Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Musical Puzzler: Big In Japan

Big in Japan was a punk band that emerged from Liverpool, England in the late 1970s. They are better known for the later successes of their band members than for their own music. According to the Liverpool Echo, Big in Japan were "a supergroup with a difference - its members only became super after they left."

Last time on The Puzzler I asked you if you knew any members of Big In Japan, and of course, my sister did - when it comes to music of that era she has a somewhat encyclopedic brain. So now I shall list for you the members of said band. Some names will be familiar to you, some not so much, but I shall help you, never fear.

  • Bill Drummond (later notorious as manager of The Teardrop Explodes, founder of Zoo Records, then went on to fame as lead singer of The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu who were later known as The KLF and The Timelords)
  • Kevin Ward (only band he was ever in was this one, but he later went on to do artwork for many other bands, and then went on to make models for petrochemical engineers)
  • Phil Allen (brother of Deaf School lead singer Enrico Cadillac Jr., became a session musician)
  • Jayne Casey (now an artistic director, she left Big In Japan to form Pink Military and then Pink Industry)
  • Ian Broudie (after Big In Japan he formed The Original Mirrors, then Care, then spent most of the 80s producing material by other bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen, The Fall and The Icicle Works. In 1989 he formed The Lightning Seeds ("Pure", "Life Of Riley"))
  • Clive Langer (after Deaf School and Big In Japan he went into production with partner Alan Winstanley, producing Madness, Dexys, Elvis Costello and Teardrop Explodes)
  • Ambrose Reynolds (with Jayne Casey he formed Pink Industry. They also formed their own label, Zulu Records, which in 1984 released an album called The Zulu Compilation. this LP featured an early version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes. Ambrose then went on to release a solo album consisting of speeches and assassinations from the 1960's set to music. In 1987 he formed Urban Strawberry Lunch, a band specialising in making music from recycled materials.)
  • Holly Johnson (lead singer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, he left in 1987 and won a court case against the label ZTT freeing him from his contract. In 1989 he released the album Blast, which spawned the hit Americanos. Since that time he has worked primarily as a painter, although he has released three more critically acclaimed albums. In 2011 he announced plans for a new album.)
  • Budgie (born Peter Clarke, he joined The Slits after Big In Japan, playing on their album Cut. Later that same year he joined Siouxsie and the Banshees as a temporary replacement for Kenny Morris who had left the band two days into a tour, and ended up staying. In 1981 he and Siouxsie formed The Creatures. He has also collaborated with John Cale and The Indigo Girls.)
  • Steve Lindsey (the former Deaf School member later formed The Planets, who had a minor hit and TOTP appearance performing "Lines".)
  • David Balfe  (former member of Dalek I Love You, he became keyboardist with Teardrop Explodes and co-founded the Zoo label with Bill Drummond. He later managed the groups Brilliant (featuring later KLF member Jimi Cauty) and Strawberry Switchblade ("Since Yesterday", "Let Her Go", "Jolene"). Next he founded the Food label and signed Voice of the Beehive, Zodiac Mindwarp, Diesel Park West, Jesus Jones, and finally Blur. During the 90s he went into semi-retirement and moved to a house in the country, inspiring Blur's Damon Albarn to write the song "Country House". After two years he took the job of Head of A&R at Columbia Records, signing Kula Shaker.)
Big In Japan only recorded a handful of songs in their brief existence. Here's one of their rare tracks.

OK, new question: what was the original name of the band Blur?

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