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Cries and Whispers

Cries and Whispers 1983 - 1991 (Anthony Reynolds)

By • Apr 23rd, 2019 • Category: Feature

Japan were, to me (at least before I read this book) a distant memory and a fleeting footnote in the history of pop.

They had the misfortune to be around when David Bowie and Roxy Music were in their prime and always seemed to be thought of as semi-talented fanboys, fated to worship fruitlessly at the altar of both. Anthony Reynolds clearly does not agree.

His book starts off at the point Japan’s career finishes. You get a real sense of intimacy, with the clipped, precise text and a selection of photographs which could have tumbled out of a family photo album. It seems that the last days of Japan were a pressure cooker, fraught with internal tension. The photographs and the text display a real sense of individuals who have grown up and become completely different people. There is a real sense of relief and release in the recollections here and the pictures which support them. It is a joy to read.

With enthusiastic, information-packed sentences and paragraphs, Reynolds has taken care to research each source carefully, asking of both us and himself, what value is held in this?

He avoids the traps of getting bogged down in too much information, or skipping over things for the sake of getting to the good bits. It is a book that draws you in, allowing you to get in sync with its’ rhythms.

Reynolds has clearly been given access to several members’ private photographs and recollections. Because of this, he has been able to go through both triumphs and setbacks in equal measure. We, as readers, whether devoted fan or casually interested observer, are taken on a real emotional journey with the band.

Indeed, there were several points at which I found myself having to stop and check that I was reading a biography and not a novel, so deeply did I find myself caring for the people. You may not always like them but you will be turning the pages to find out what happens next to them.

For example, something such as the plane trip which kicks off the first tour described in the book, horrendously frustrating at the time, becomes something we join the interviewees in looking back and laughing at, chalking it up to another great experience in the ongoing journal of life, as Mr Sylvian himself may have put it.

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