The eagle-eyed amongst you may be sensing a certain feeling of deja-vu right now, thinking “well, this all seems rather familiar?” – but there is good reason for me posting a newly-edited version of one of our earlier pieces.
This week, we lost a very lovely man and fellow fan Jonathan Cluroe (1960 – 2015)
He was an active and charming member of our on-line community and was always full of positivity and enthusiasm for all things ‘japan’. He loved his old vinyl and would often post pictures of his turntable playing his chosen music for the day……….hence, it seemed appropriate to re-post this piece, which looks at Steve’s iconic record covers.
So this is posted today with much sadness – for Jonathan, with love and respect – we will miss you, and your hair-related anecdotes, dearly. xxxx
THE ART OF PARTIES
Steve’s first foray into photographing the band specifically for a record sleeve came in 1981 with The Art of Parties. The photos were taken at Mick’s flat, a bucket of water on hand to give the impression of tropical humidity…….and resulted in these beautifully captured portraits of each of the members of ‘japan’. These pictures were a million miles way from the perfectly sculpted images we had been used to seeing of the band; only a few months earlier we had been presented with the almost Newtonesque cover of Gentlemen Take Polaroids and yet here we see them in just a dash of eye-liner, looking sultry and sweaty……. The ltd edition 7″ fold out version (which is featured here) is, without doubt, my favourite Japan sleeve……
Not so much another infamous Jansen “selfie” when it came to his photo – Steve set the shots up and one of the other members clicked the shutter…..
VISIONS OF CHINA
In October 1981, Visions of China was released and this Jansen cover, featuring a segment of the iconic picture of Chariman Mao, alluded to what was to follow – the Tin Drum cover would also feature this picture of Mao – and the emerging interest that the band had developed in Chinese music.
Masami Tsuchiya (& Mao) photographed in Kensington by Steve Jansen
March 1982 saw the release of Japan’s most successful, and yet least commercial sounding, single…….the photo that featured on the 7″ version was taken by Steve, on the roof of his flat.
Confusingly, the photo which features on the 12″ version (below) was credited to Yuka Fujii and, due to the similarities in style, I had always assumed the 2 were taken at the same session. However, Steve explained this wasn’t the case….
(photo by Yuka Fujii)
“they were not taken at the same time, (as far as my memory serves) – I don’t even know which session came first. Mine were taken on the roof of my London flat which was only accessible via a very difficult to negotiate skylight suspended over a deep stairwell (and this was not a flat roof) and the purpose was to experiment with infra-red film, but as it turned out the location had no bearing whatsoever on the shot used for the cover.” Steve Jansen (Dec 2014)
David Sylvian – shot on infra-red monochrome film on the rooftop of 23 Stanhope Gardens, London, for ‘Ghosts’ cover (shortly before Steve fell through the skylight – I kid you not!!!)
Steve has recently added another of the ‘Ghosts’ outtakes to his imageshop – you can read about this in more detail here: https://jansenphotographyblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/the-purchase/
2 months later came the final Jansen cover for a Japan release. This one perplexed many fans, as it featured an image of the Japanese photographer, Yuka Fujii – but most people assumed it was a picture of a young Chinese man. Such are the dangers of taking things too literally! This photograph of Yuka was also featured in the Parco Exhibition in Japan in 1982
Bringing us bang up to date, Steve has included some of his own photographs on his more recent ‘download only’ releases, which are available via ‘burning shed’, including this image ‘hotel room, pusan’ on the cover for ‘exit north’
Details of how to purchase one of Steve’s prints can be found here: http://www.stevejansen.com/imageshop/