RIP Mick Karn

It was awful news to hear yesterday that former Japan bassist Mick Karn had died. He was 52 and had been suffering with cancer.

Micka Karn’s bass playing was a big influence on me as I grew up through my teens in the 80’s. Some would say Japan were the best band to come out of Catford. Actually most would. In fact most would say that they were the best thing to ever come out of Catford.

Managed by Simon Napier-Bell their first 2 albums (my favourites) Adolescent Sex and Obscure Alternatives went mainly unnoticed in the UK at a time when their punky sound was waning in popualrity. It wasn’t until follow up album Quiet Life was launched in 79 that they started to get radio and TV airtime over here.

Karn had such a unique style and sound and played a part in influencing how the bass guitar became played and how basslines in general were made more prominent in modern and electronic music. Here’s a great quote of his from the New York Time article today:

“I wanted to be able to slide and bend notes as I’d learnt to do with the violin, and so decided to take all the frets off the bass guitar,” he explained. “I couldn’t help but feel that bass players were always hidden somewhere in the background, whereas I was determined to be heard.”

And from the Daily Mail:

Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine added: ‘Nobody who loved music in the early 80s can have missed Mick Karn. His bass playing was at the forefront of every important Japan song – sensual and stylish.’

I feature the track The Unconventional from Adolescent Sex in my All Time Top Ten Tunes blog post last year, and righty so. It has all the greatest Japan qualities – each musician allowed to perform there absolute best, but all tied together by that stonking Mick Karn bassline.

Japan, and David Sylvian in particular, have influenced many of the artists I still listen to today, including Goldie, Roni Size & Tricky. Check out Goldie’s Dragonfly to hear influences from Ghosts by Japan. This is what I love about music – how influence adapts what we hear over time 🙂

Here they are on Top of The Pops with silky smooth Quiet Life. RIP Mick Karn. Ledge.

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One of my favourite songs ever. RIP Mick.

Not in the least bit copyrighted by Tim Aldiss 2012