Friday, January 22, 2010

Worth Another Listen - The Vapors

This UK-based band burned fast and bright. David Fenton, Howard Smith, Edward Bazalgette and Steve Smith were together only 1979 thru 1982, and put out two studio albums, and still be memorable. It started with the 1980 release of Turning Japanese, their claim to fame. Off the album New Clear Days, much was discussed about the song that went to #36 on the Billboard chart, from questioning if there was intent to suggest cultural prejudice, or is the song about masturbation.

The band was discovered by John Weller, father of UK icon Paul Weller, who saw them with Bruce Foxton, bassist for Paul's band The Jam. Turning Japanese was produced by a producer who was working with The Jam, a fantastic puck band of the time. The second release, Magnets, hit the stores in 1981, and had little success. The single, Jimmie Jones, reached #39, and was the only one to chart.

Shortly after the release, the band called it a day. Lead singer Fenton went on to be a lawyer in the music industry. Guitarist Bazalgette went on to direct for television. And all will have Turning Japanese to fall back on whenever anyone asked what they did in the old days.


  1. Can you imagine having Sushi with some lawyer & asking what he did before his law career, & he says- "oh yeah, I was a musician with a couple of my mates & we had a minor hit with a song & a couple of albums in the 1980s". What was the song? "Well, it was called Turning Japanese..."

  2. When I saw the title of this post on my blogroll, I thought, "Cool. New stuff."
    I was pleasantly surprised to find I knew The Vapors, or at least I knew "Turning Japanese."
    From the past.

  3. I did love the Vapors back in the days, as they say. Good choice.

  4. A coworker and I used to turn up the radio and pogo to "Turning Japanese." Silly straight girl didn't know what the lyrics meant. When I think of the 80's, this is one of the first five songs that pop into my head.

  5. So funny...a friend and I were talking just yesterday about "Turning Japanese"! One of the funnest songs from the 80's, and I know all the words. :)

  6. Classic 80's - I first saw them on Solid Gold in 1980 and fell in love with the song - one of my friends had to explain to me why the reference as to masturbation - too funny!

  7. Stephen, I know, I thought the same. How could you not giggle?

    Bob, the Vapors were too much fun.

    Stan, thanks!

    Behr, I wanna see a YouTube clip of that dance!

    Beth, but isn't it a song that randomly comes up all the time? It does for me.

    SteveA, so much fun!



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