John Taylor: The Japan Album (1999)

Album playing with vibrant colors

John Taylor - The Japan AlbumDid you know John Taylor, of Duran Duran fame, has a string of solo albums? I did not, until very recently. Though a little digital crate-digging I managed to find his 1999 release, John Taylor and give it a listen.

To be entirely fair to the album, I’ve only given it one listen so far and I’m probably going in biased. What do I want from a John Taylor album? Well, if I’m being honest, something a little closer to mid-80s Duran Duran with a lot of bass. The Power Station with less cheesiness and schmaltz. (Really, The Power Station minus Robert Palmer…)

This is not that.

The Japan Album

According to the Duran Duran Wiki (and who am I to doubt them?), John Taylor is more commonly known as The Japan Album because it was recorded for a Japanese label (Avex Trax) and only has “John Taylor” on the cover.

The album is a grab bag of styles. There’s a fairly banging cover of The Zombies’ “She’s Not There,” a short instrumental cover of a 16th century Christmas Carol (“Coventry Carol”), and fiddle-forward tune called “Hollow Victory” that features an unspecified female vocalist.

“Air Miles” is a bit more bass-forward and experimental. If I didn’t know better, I’d have pegged it for something from Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart . (That’s not a bad thing, btw.) If Wobble and Taylor haven’t collaborated at some point, they should.

“Getting Intimate” is OK musically but falls down a bit vocally and lyrically. Taylor’s vocals are all over the place on the album. In a few songs it feels like he’s trying to channel David Bowie, others are a little too earnest. “Fields of Eden” is well done, but the lyrics are super-repetitive.

If only Taylor was in a band with another strong songwriter and a better lyricist and singer. Oh, wait…

Overall, I came away planning to give the album another listen down the road. It’s not amazing, it’s not embarrassing. It has a few tracks that might find their way into mixes. If you want to give this a listen… good luck. I had no luck finding this on Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music, or elsewhere. You can find a few copies on Discogs for semi-reasonable prices.

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