A Tourist’s Guide to ‘Life In Tokyo’ – Part 1

March 2021 will see the latest re-release for Japan’s third album, ‘Quiet Life’, this time in a super deluxe boxed set edition, amongst other remastered formats (single CD, vinyl LP on different weights/colours). That particular deluxe re-issue is set to include a CD of contemporary extras (‘A Quieter Life: Alternative Mixes and Rarities’) which will include the 7″ and 12″ remixes of ‘Life In Tokyo’ made by Steve Nye and released in September 1982 in the UK, as well as ‘Life In Tokyo (Theme Giorgio Moroder Version 1979)’, the exact nature of which is yet to become clear at time of writing.

Various 1979 and 1981 singe releases of 'Life In Tokyo'
^ Various 1979 and 1981 singe releases of ‘Life In Tokyo’

In a move that is either likely be a) highly sought after, b) frustratingly blood-boiling in its expense and exclusivity to get hold of, or c) pointlessly repetitive at the number of barely different versions… orders placed from the official Japan online store can also come with an optional extra ‘Life In Tokyo’ CD EP for £5 more – albeit only with selected formats (some now sold out) – that gathers up no less than nine different mixes of that one song. The bad news, apart from being sold out in some options, is that the official store is a) in general more expensive compared to other outlets for the same product and b) eye-watering in postage costs to non-UK customers, likely the killer factor for many who would really like to get hold of it.

Regular viewers of the excellent and informative Japan fan site ‘Nightporter’ will likely already be familiar with the listing of the versions that the Japan songs and versions checklist contains, but with all this ‘Life In Tokyo’ version craziness coming down the line, time perhaps for a deep dive…

The 1979 release versions

‘Life In Tokyo’ (Short Version aka Single Version) (3’30”)
‘Life In Tokyo’ (Part 2) (3’29”)
‘Life In Tokyo’ (Long Version aka ‘Disco Version’) (7’05”)

‘Life In Tokyo’ (Short Version aka Single Version) (3’30”)

This is the original 1979 7″ A side mix and the most widely available of all the versions, with it being a staple whenever a Japan singles / best of compilation tracklisting is drawn up. The single was released across various territories – on 7″ editions it is normally just referred to as ‘Life In Tokyo’ on its own, but when the West German and UK 12″ singles include it on the B side then this particular mix is then appended the ‘Short Version’ subtitle.

Clocking in at a classic three and a half minute pop single format, it remains a work of disco-era genius with the great Giorgio Moroder producing and co-writing and was where the band began to shed their earlier glam-rock stylings and point towards a more sophisticated, electronic driven sound that the ‘Quiet Life’ album would finesse.

The song has been found on almost all of the various Japan compilation albums, starting with 1981’s ‘Assemblage’ onwards, and it would likely be easier to list only the albums that did NOT feature this particular version – but we’ll leave the listings for below…

‘Life In Tokyo’ (Part 2) (3’29”)

Found on the 7″ B side of those original 1979 single releases in West Germany, Japan and the UK, this was a continuation of the groove, built upon large chunks from the 12″ Long Version – locked into that slowly building repetitive groove, largely instrumental for the the first near 2 and a half minutes save for a ‘Life In Tokyo’ near chant throughout, it builds and eventually breaks and the chorus vocals burst into life and repeat to fade. Essentially, take the first 31 seconds of the Long Version and then jump cut to the 4’13” point of the Long Version and continue on from there and that is pretty much the Part 2 version in a nutshell.

As of writing this article, the only CD releases for ‘Part 2’ have been the Japanese double CD edition of ‘Assemblage’ from 1995 and the Japanese ‘The Singles’ double CD from 1996, in both cases remastered from vinyl.

The crucial thing to understand with that ‘The Singles’ compilation is that most of the tracks it contains (perhaps even all?) are mastered from vinyl copies – high quality, for sure, but the tell-tale rumble from vinyl can be heard at the end of outro fades and the like if you listen closely enough.

'Assemblage' 1995 Japanese 2 x CD edition
^ ‘Assemblage’ 1995 Japanese 2 x CD edition – CD1 is like the standard version of the album, but CD2 comes with a variety of different versions and mixes.
'The Singles' 1996 Japanese 2 x CD compilation
^ ‘The Singles’ 1996 Japanese 2 x CD compilation – meticulous in reproducing versions from UK Ariola Hansa era singles, occasionally duplicating them where B sides on both 7″ and 12″ were the same, for example – mastered from vinyl copies in most cases though.

‘Life In Tokyo’ (Long Version aka ‘Disco Version’) (7’05”)

The glorious Giorgio Moroder original in full panoramic format, stretched out to just over 7 minutes. Depending on the territory and the release this can be referred to as ‘Long Version’ or ‘Disco Version’ and in fact gets even more muddled – e.g. the original UK 12″ sleeve refers to ‘Long Version’ on the record label but ‘Extended Version’ on the front cover hype blurb. As you will see in this series of posts, with so many versions about, it all gets very confusing how they are referred to…

After its original 1979 release, this Long Version saw light of day again on the A side of the 1981 single re-releases of ‘Life In Tokyo’ in West Germany and the UK (where the label now called it ‘Extended Version’).

On CD however, it would have to wait a good long while. Once more, the Japanese double CD edition of ‘Assemblage’ from 1995 and the Japanese ‘The Singles’ double CD from 1996 both featured this mix amongst the tracks included (as well as the standard 1979 ‘Short Version’ for good measure). Note – of these two CDs, these are not the same mastering – ‘The Singles’ definitely comes from vinyl, as the very end of the fade out reveals. Several years later, the original 2004 first pressing of the remastered ‘Assemblage’ included it by mistake as track 14. It should have been the remix that first appeared on the 1982 ‘Assemblage’ Special Edition Double Play cassette to be included (and as referenced on the back cover tracklisting) – that version was included on re-pressings of the digipak version* and the 2006 jewel case edition.

So, oddly enough, st time of writing, it is not so easy to come by this mix on a Japan CD these days, since those 1995 and 1996 Japanese double CD editions aren’t easy or cheap to come by and, as discussed, you’ll need to check out the finer details of the 2004 ‘Assemblage’ remaster to know for sure which version you are getting.

UPDATE: Thanks to Paul Rymer for commenting (see below for fuller detail) the good news is that ‘Life In Tokyo’ (Long Version) included on the 2004 CD first pressing was from an original tape source and not a rip from vinyl.

'Assemblage' - the 2004 digipak remaster
^ ‘Assemblage’ – the 2004 digipak remaster – every edition will contain the standard 7″ mix, but watch out for which version is which if looking for a particular long mix of ‘Life In Tokyo’.
'Assemblage' 2004 remaster first pressing disc numbers close-up
^ ‘Assemblage’ 2004 remaster first pressing disc numbers close-up
'Assemblage' 2004 remaster later re-pressing disc numbers close-up
^ ‘Assemblage’ 2004 remaster later re-pressing disc numbers close-up

* Short of looking at the discs themselves, not easy to spot the digipak re-pressings – on the outside, the only difference between them for me was that the original had a hype sticker on the front cover, the re-pressing didn’t. On the discs themselves, the original has the codes IFPI L502 82876566962 01 deluxe, the corrected re-pressing has Sonopress 51316550/82876566962 21. If in doubt, play safe and go for the 2006 jewel case issue, I guess.

The original Long Version looks to have been included on a few various artists compilations too…

It is definitely on the various artists compilation ‘New Wave Club Class-X – Sinner’s Day 2016’ [2016, EU, Sony Music 88985381682] – it’s listed as ‘Life In Tokyo (12″ Extended Version)’, which was initially confusing but having now heard it first hand I can confirm that it is the original Long Version, based on what was discussed in part 1 of how the 12″ record labels themselves describe their mixes contained in the groove.

New Wave Club Class-X - Sinner's Day 2016 compilation CD
^ New Wave Club Class-X – Sinner’s Day 2016 compilation CD

Similarly, I can confirm for sure that the compilation ‘Electric 80s’ [2005, UK, Sony BMG Music Entertainment 82876705382] – listed as including ‘Life In Tokyo (Original 12″ Version)’ with a timing of 7’08” – is also the original Long Version.

Electric 80s compilation CD - case, insert and disc 1 (of 3).
^ Electric 80s compilation CD – case, insert and disc 1 (of 3).

Finally, I can now confirm that the following also contains the original ‘Long Version’ – ‘Twelve Inch Eighties (Rhythm Is Gonna Get You)’ [2016, UK, Crimson TWIN80003] – listed as including ‘Life In Tokyo (Disco Mix)’ with a timing of 7’09”.

Twelve Inch Eighties (Rhythm Is Gonna Get You) compilation CD front cover and disc 1
^ Twelve Inch Eighties (Rhythm Is Gonna Get You) compilation CD front cover and disc 1
Twelve Inch Eighties (Rhythm Is Gonna Get You) compilation CD - rear cover
^ Twelve Inch Eighties (Rhythm Is Gonna Get You) compilation CD – rear cover

Coming in Part 2… repackage, remix… version craziness abounds…

4 Replies to “A Tourist’s Guide to ‘Life In Tokyo’ – Part 1”

  1. As much as I love JAPAN, and as much as I try to have every mix of everything, things like this make my brain seize up! I spent weeks trying to determine what/how/where was necessary to make my “Bento” set of JAPAN rarities some years ago. I leaned HEAVILY [and even donated for hosting afterward] to Paul Rymer’s site, as it was essential to salvaging my sanity. I eventually put this together. It’s flawed, I now know. At the time there was no word on the “Visions of China” 12″ mix.

    Japan: Bento 3XCD-R [2009]

    DISC 1
    1. Stateline
    2. Adolescent Sex [ver. 2]
    3. Life In Tokyo
    4. Life In Tokyo [part 2]
    5. Deviation [live in Japan]
    6. Quiet Life [JPN 7 edit]
    7. Life In Tokyo [long ver.]
    8. I Second That Emotion
    9. Life In Tokyo [best of synth 12” remix]
    10. Obscure Alternatives [live in Japan]
    11. European Son
    12. Life In Tokyo [1982 special remix 7]
    13. Quiet Life [UK 7 edit]
    14. A Foreign Place
    15. Life In Tokyo [theme]
    16. I Second That Emotion [1982 remix 7]
    17. Virgin Video Jingle

    DISC 2
    1. In Vogue [live in Japan]
    2. European Son [ext. 12]
    3. All Tomorrow’s Parties [ver. 2]
    4. Life In Tokyo [souvenir from japan mix]
    5. European Son [1982 remix 7]
    6. Sometimes I Feel So Low [live in Japan]
    7. I Second That Emotion [1982 remix 12]
    8. European Son [1982 remix 12]
    9. Life In Tokyo [1982 special remix 12]
    10. Gentlemen Take Polaroids [UK 7 edit]
    11. The Experience Of Swiming
    12. The Width Of A Room
    13. Burning Bridges [ver. 2]
    14. European Son [ext in vogue ver.]

    DISC 3
    1. The Art Of Parties [UK 12]
    2. Life Without Buildings
    3. Taking Islands In Africa [1981 steve nye remix]
    4. Ghosts [UK 7 edit]
    5. The Art Of Parties [version]
    6. Nightporter [1982 remix 7]
    7. Ain’t That Peculiar [ver. 2]
    8. Oil On Canvas
    9. Nightporter [1982 remix 12]
    10. All Tomorrow’s Parties [1983 UK 7 remix]
    11. Voices Raised In Welcome, Hands Raised In Prayer
    12. Temple Of Dawn
    13. All Tomorrow’s Parties [1983 UK 12 remix]
    14. Ghosts [2000 vocal ver.]
    15. Some Kind Of Fool
    15. The Art Of Parties [UK 7]

    But my goal was to have as complete a set of JAPAN songs/versions as apart from the studio albums as possible.

  2. Well, I would be putting my cash down to buy such a set in a heartbeat, for sure. When it gets to the various edits of ‘Quiet Life’, for example, it gets much more into hair-splitting territory, I can fully understand that many might tune out. The ‘Visions of China’ 12” mix remains a mystery to me, as the compilation it is featured on is too difficult and expensive to come by as yet – and that seems to be its one and only release. Perhaps the forthcoming ‘Quiet Life’ box set might help the case for a further trawl through the Japan archives, though there doesn’t seem to a champion in the ex-Japan members for that kind of project in the way that other bands seem to have a resident archivist within their ranks that make these things happen.

  3. Great piece. The Long Version on the first run of the digipack CD Assemblage came from a tape sourced in LA, so it was definitely not sourced from vinyl, unlike the Japan Singles 2CD. The original plan for the 2004 was to include all the 12″ mixes of Tokyo, but this would have taken the running time into 2CD territory. The 2004 releases were done on a budget. The decision was made to include the 6.19 remix that had been on In Vogue in mono – at the time it was therefore unavailable on CD aside from a deleted Old Gold compilation. In 2004 it was still possible to pick up the two Japanese comps with the original 12″ so it was decided to drop that track, and also the Nye European Son remixes. Sadly I wasn’t deeply involved in the 2021 Quiet Life, though was in the loop to some extent as an employee of Mr. Barbieri. I was much more involved with the 2004 releases, which were an attempt to include as much value as possible for fans within the budgetary limits imposed. The live show was also considered for release back then but we wanted to source better quality recordings so the idea was dropped. BMG Japan were involved but had nothing unreleased; the LA tape of Tokyo, originating from the studio the track was recorded in was the main find of a worldwide search. There was another song on the master tape, labelled as Japan but it turned out to be by another unknown artist who must have been working with Moroder at that time. I heard the song, as the tape was baked and copied for review, and it was definitely not Japan and not the Foxes OST demo that was the song Tokyo was based on.

  4. Thanks very much Paul for commenting – great additional detail and glad to hear confirmation about the source for ‘Life In Tokyo’ (Long Version) on the 2004 CD first pressing of ‘Assemblage’ – I’ve added an update to that effect in the main post – cheers!

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