Tin Drum (album)

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This article is about Tin Drum, the album. For the novel, see The Tin Drum. For the film based on the novel, see The Tin Drum (film).
Tin Drum
Studio album by Japan
Released 13 November 1981
Recorded 1981
Genre Art pop[1]
Length 37:49
Label Virgin Records
Producer Steve Nye, Japan
Japan chronology
Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Tin Drum
Oil on Canvas
Singles from Tin Drum
  1. "The Art of Parties"
    Released: May 1981
  2. "Visions of China"
    Released: 6 November 1981
  3. "Ghosts"
    Released: March 1982
  4. "Cantonese Boy"
    Released: May 1982
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[3]
Smash Hits 8/10[4]

Tin Drum is the fifth and final studio album by the British band Japan, released on Virgin Records on 13 November 1981.[5]


Tin Drum continued the band's now developed use of electronic elements coupled with traditional instrumentation, but leans far more towards Far Eastern influences than any of their previous albums. Guitarist Rob Dean had left the band by this point, with vocalist David Sylvian taking on his duties, which had become largely surplus to requirements in terms of their musical direction.

Four of the album's eight tracks were released as singles in the UK ("The Art of Parties", "Visions of China", "Ghosts", and "Cantonese Boy"), whilst a live version of "Canton" was issued as a single to promote the Oil on Canvas live album in 1983. Of these, the most commercially successful was "Ghosts", a minimalist, drum-free song which reached No.5 in the UK. "Visions of China" reached #32 and "Cantonese Boy" made the UK Top 25. The album itself peaked at #12 in the UK,[6] and was certified "Gold" by the BPI in 1982.

In 2000, Sylvian re-recorded "Ghosts" using the original Japan backing track and included it on his compilation Everything and Nothing.

On 6 September 2011, Tin Drum was awarded BBC Radio 6 Music's 'Goldie' award for the best album of 1981.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Sylvian, except where noted.

Side A:

  1. "The Art of Parties" (Re-recorded version) – 4:09
  2. "Talking Drum" – 3:34
  3. "Ghosts" – 4:33
  4. "Canton" (Jansen/Sylvian) – 5:30

Side B:

  1. "Still Life in Mobile Homes" – 5:32
  2. "Visions of China" (Jansen/Sylvian) – 3:37
  3. "Sons of Pioneers" (Karn/Sylvian) – 7:07
  4. "Cantonese Boy" – 3:44

Bonus disc on the 2004 CD reissue

  1. "The Art of Parties" (single version) - 6:47
  2. "Life Without Buildings" - 6:48
  3. "The Art of Parties" (live) - 5:36
  4. "Ghosts" (single version) - 4:02
  • The bonus tracks were included only on the limited edition two-disc version of the album. The single-disc version features no bonus tracks.


  1. "The Art of Parties"/"Life Without Buildings" (7"/7" fold out and 12") UK #48
  2. "Visions of China"/"Taking Islands in Africa" (7") "Swing" (12") UK #32
  3. "Ghosts"/"The Art of Parties (version)" (7", 7" picture disc and 12") UK #5
  4. "Cantonese Boy" UK #24


Additional personnel

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Steve Joule – design
  • Steve Nye – engineer
  • Phil Bodger - assistant engineer
  • Fin Costello – photography


  1. ^ Fisher, Mark. Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. Zero Books, May 30, 2014. ISBN 978-1-78099-226-6
  2. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Tin Drum – Japan". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-195-31373-9. 
  4. ^ Bostock, David (12 November 1981). "Album Reviews (Japan – 'Tin Drum')". Smash Hits (EMAP Metro) 3 (23): 25. 
  5. ^ Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 29. 24 October 1981.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Japan albums Official charts