|Studio album by Japan|
|Singles from Obscure Alternatives|
Japan's first album, Adolescent Sex, had been unsuccessful on the British charts, and their record company required another album, this time aimed at the lucrative US and European markets where rock was dominating the airwaves. Still working with Ray Singer as producer, singer and songwriter David Sylvian in particular found it difficult to take a back seat and began to demand more control over the eventual presentation of the material.
Trouser Press wrote that the album "adds more keyboards but still relies on Rob Dean's buzzing guitars and David Sylvian's sneery vocals for its sound". Certain tracks contain elements of funk and reggae. AllMusic's Amy Hanson described "Automatic Gun" as "a spit-shined punk shocker backed by bright pop guitar". The title track is described as "wonderfully atmospheric and slightly menacing", while "Love Is Infectious" "put the band completely into discordant post-punk art house-dom". "....Rhodesia", Hanson writes, "brought the funk back and infused it with a Caribbean essence.
The final track, "The Tenant", a piano based instrumental, was the first notable shift towards the direction their later material would take. "The Tenant" also marks bassist Mick Karn's recording debut on saxophone.
Obscure Alternatives was released in October 1978, only seven months after Adolescent Sex. As with the first album, Obscure Alternatives was commercially unsuccessful in the UK, but garnered moderate success in Japan, where it peaked just outside the Top 20.
The tracks "Deviation" and "Sometimes I Feel So Low" were released as singles in certain countries, the latter as a double A-side with a re-recorded version of "Adolescent Sex" (the title track of their first album, re-recorded during the sessions for this album). It became Japan's first European hit single, and the re-recorded version of "Adolescent Sex" is featured on the 1981 compilation album Assemblage. Both tracks were mixed together to form "I Can't Wait", which was club hit for L'il Devious in 2003.
The album was remastered and re-released in 2004, and included a video for "Sometimes I Feel So Low".
AllMusic was more positive, writing retrospectively: "Although the set isn't quite up to par with its predecessor, Obscure Alternatives is still a challenging listen."
Sylvian has gone on record saying that Obscure Alternatives should have been their debut album.
All songs written by David Sylvian.
- "Automatic Gun" – 4:07
- "...Rhodesia" – 6:48
- "Love Is Infectious" – 4:10
- "Sometimes I Feel So Low" – 3:46
- "Obscure Alternatives" – 6:50
- "Deviation" – 3:23
- "Suburban Berlin" – 4:59
- "The Tenant" – 7:14
|2004 remaster CD bonus tracks|
|10.||"Obscure Alternatives (Live)"||6:05|
|11.||"In Vogue (Live)"||6:12|
|12.||"Sometimes I Feel So Low (Live)"||4:06|
|13.||"Sometimes I Feel So Low" (video)|
- David Sylvian – lead vocals, guitar, mixing
- Rob Dean – guitar, backing vocals, mixing
- Richard Barbieri – synthesizer, keyboards, mixing
- Mick Karn – bass, backing vocals, saxophone, mixing
- Steve Jansen – drums, backing vocals, percussion, mixing
- Additional personnel
- Ray Singer – production, mixing
- Chris Tsangarides – engineer, mixing
- Ian Cooper – mastering
- Fin Costello – sleeve photography
- Hanson, Amy (2011). "Obscure Alternatives – Japan | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
- Robbins, Ira; Aswad, Jem. "TrouserPress.com :: Japan". Trouser Press. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Severs, Joanna (2003). Buckley, Peter, ed. The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 534. ISBN 9781843531050. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
- Paul Rymer, liner notes, Obscure Alternatives, SONY BMG, 2006