Mick Karn RIP
One of the most unique bassists of the 1970’s and 80’s was Mick Karn from Japan, fronted by David Sylvian, who straddled a pop-punk Euro-decadent sound and influenced many a New Romantic who came out of England in the day. John Taylor from Duran Duran offers his tribute:
Nick and I first saw Japan at Barbarellas in Birmingham on their ‘Obscure Alternatives’ tour and were blown away. They were so fresh, while every other band in town were tripping over each other in a rush to play the same three chords, Japan were brave in many ways. When I think back to that night the image that first comes to mind first is beautiful Mick, red hair and Ibanez bass, shaved eyebrows and ballet shoes, shuffling around the floor like a docile robot, playing also with great beauty and verve, punching delicate holes in the fabric of the songs; in Mick Karn’s basslines no notes were ever wasted. Mick changed my life in a good way, ‘Quiet Life’ and ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’, ‘Adolescent Sex’ and ‘Tin Drum’ are amongst the best recordings made during the post-punk era in my view. Mick’s sax playing also was always interesting.
I too adore his funky Badalemti-esque saxophone, particularly on the track, “Burning Bridges,” from my favorite Japan LP, 1980’s “Gentlemen Take Polaroids.” The live clip above from “The Old Grey Whistle Test” show features “My New Career,” an atmospheric song with Mick Karn’s truly individual and underappreciated liquid style. Godspeed.