Gentlemen Take Polaroids

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Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Original 1980 cover art
Studio album by Japan
Released 24 October 1980[1]
Recorded 1980, AIR Studios; Townhouse Studios, London
Genre New wave, synthpop, post-punk
Length 46:26
Label Virgin Records
Producer John Punter
Japan chronology
Quiet Life
Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Tin Drum
Singles from Gentlemen Take Polaroids
  1. "Gentlemen Take Polaroids"
    Released: October 1980 (1980-10)
  2. "Nightporter"
    Released: November 1982 (1982-11)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Smash Hits 8/10 stars[2]
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]

Gentlemen Take Polaroids is the fourth studio album by the British band Japan, released in November 1980.


Gentlemen Take Polaroids was the band's first album for the Virgin Records label, after leaving Hansa-Ariola (who had released their first three albums) some months earlier. It continued in the vein of their previous album, Quiet Life, utilising a combination of electronic elements coupled with more traditional instruments, though culminating in a more sophisticated and atmospheric production than its predecessor. This was the last Japan album to feature guitarist Rob Dean, who left the band in spring 1981.

Although not a huge chart hit upon its initial release in the band's native UK (where it peaked at #45),[4] the album was later certified "Gold" by the BPI in 1986 for 100,000 copies sold.

The album was preceded by the title track which was released as a single in October 1980 and peaked at no.60 (the group's first single to make the UK Top 100). No further singles were immediately taken from the album, though "Nightporter" (influenced by the works of French composer Erik Satie, most particularly his Gymnopedies), was remixed and released as a single in November 1982, just after the band announced that they were splitting. It peaked at no.29 in the UK Singles Chart, though both the edited 7" version and the full-length 12" remix remain unreleased on CD to this day.

"Taking Islands in Africa" re-appeared as the B-side of the "Visions of China" single in 1981, remixed by Tin Drum co-producer Steve Nye.

"Methods of Dance" was also used as the title for two Virgin Records compilation albums of new talent released in the early 1980s. The track itself was used as the B-side to the 12" single of "Nightporter" in late 1982 (the B-side of the 7" single of "Nightporter" was a remix of "Ain't That Peculiar").

An unreleased track from the Gentlemen Take Polaroids sessions, "Some Kind of Fool", was rerecorded by David Sylvian in 2000 and included on his compilation album Everything and Nothing. The song was pulled from the Polaroids album at the last moment and replaced by the track "Burning Bridges". A number of original vinyl copies of the album have "Some Kind of Fool" listed as the third track on the rear of the sleeve even though they play "Burning Bridges". The original recording of the song circulates amongst collectors, albeit in poor quality.

The album was reissued in 2003, with slightly different cover art (taken from the same photo session as the original cover) and three bonus tracks (see below).

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Sylvian (Copyright Opium Arts Ltd.), except where noted.

Side A:

  1. "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" – 7:08
  2. "Swing" – 6:23
  3. "Burning Bridges" – 5:23
  4. "My New Career" – 3:52

Side B:

  1. "Methods of Dance" – 6:53
  2. "Ain't That Peculiar" – 4:40 (Smokey Robinson/Warren "Pete" Moore/Marvin Tarplin/Robert Rogers; Jobete Music UK Ltd.)
  3. "Nightporter" – 6:57
  4. "Taking Islands in Africa" – 5:12 (Sakamoto/Sylvian)

Bonus tracks on the 2003 CD reissue

  1. "The Experience of Swimming" (Richard Barbieri) – 4:04
  2. "The Width of a Room" (Rob Dean) – 3:14
  3. "Taking Islands in Africa (Steve Nye remix)" – 4:53
  • "The Experience of Swimming" and "The Width of a Room" are instrumentals by Richard Barbieri and Rob Dean respectively. They were originally B-sides of the "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" single, and also appeared on a 1990s US Caroline CD issue of the album, where they were placed after "Burning Bridges" and "Nightporter" respectively.


Year Song UK Chart Additional information
1980 "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" 60 released as a double single pack: "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" (edit)/"The Experience of Swimming" and "The Width Of A Room"/"Burning Bridges" (a Sylvian-produced version unavailable elsewhere).
1982 "Nightporter" 29 released edited and remixed with "Ain't That Peculiar" (remix) on the 7" single, and "Methods of Dance" on the 12" single.


Additional personnel


  • Produced & Mixed By John Punter
  • Recorded & Engineered By John Punter, Colin Fairley, Nigel Walker & Steve Prestage
  • Nicola Tyson – back cover
  • Stuart McLeod – front cover


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Taylor, Steve (13 November 1980). "Album Reviews (Japan - "Gentlemen Take Polaroids")". Smash Hits (EMAP Metro) 2 (23): p29. 
  3. ^ Raggett, Ned. Gentlemen Take Polaroids at AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  4. ^ Official Charts Company (Japan albums)