In Praise of Rob Dean

Dolphin Brothers, JBK, Rob Dean, and others...

In Praise of Rob Dean

Postby Slope on Fri Sep 04, 2015 5:30 am

Finding the Rob Dean interview last week prompted me to dig out the first few Japan albums again, and it struck me what a large (and largely unrecognised) contribution he made to the band.

For the first two albums, he may have been the most proficient musician in the band, and he injected some quite tasteful solos into the more primitive music. THEN, when the music changed with Quiet Life, some would say he took a back seat but that's where I believe he truly shone - his playing and soloing on QL and GTP is stunning, restrained and tasteful, and had he been allowed to continue along that vein, I believe he would be a much more lauded guitarist then he currently is. I may be alone in this, but I believe that Japan lost an important dimension in their sound when Rob was "let go", which was never recovered even with Masami Tsuchiya, who (tho these ears, at least) tended to overplay often.

I'd be interested to hear what others think of Rob's work.
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Re: In Praise of Rob Dean

Postby Slope on Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:18 am

.............................Well, I like him anyway. :D
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Re: In Praise of Rob Dean

Postby Blemished on Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:27 am

I discovered Japan a few years after their prime, so Rob always seemed an 'outsider' to me when I first got into the music: he wasn't involved in TIn Drum, was the only one with a "normal" name :shock: , didn't seem to be part of the "image" and didn't really having a solo career to follow. I know the inside story is totally different though and that. Will be interesting to see what Anthony's book has to say on the subject.

I think his contribution is - as you suggest- very much underrated. Some of the guitar work - the ebow solos especially - on QL and GTP is sublime and an essential part of the sound. In a way though, Japan were 3 bands - (1) first two albums, (2) QL and GTP and finally (3) TD. Rob was an essential part of the first two. That the commercial success came with the more synth-driven final incarnation is perhaps why he hasn't been given his due?
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Re: In Praise of Rob Dean

Postby Bern on Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:47 am

I think he is obviously a talented guitarist and was treated quite shabbily by Sylvian on his departure from the band if the account in Mick's book is to be believed
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Re: In Praise of Rob Dean

Postby hislefteyebrow on Wed Oct 07, 2015 5:56 pm

For what it's worth, it seems like guitarists during those years of transition from glam/70s Rock to New Wave were sidelined or overshadowed by synths or were just plain phased out intentionally because they didn't fit the image of the New Romantic. The genre did not celebrate the guitar solo or even the sound. Also, Dean looked like a regular bloke - not some exotic creature from a distant world and who knows what happened interpersonally between the band members at that time. I saw how it happened with other bands at the time. I don't think the music suffered per se, but looking back, perhaps the personality/influence of Dean as guitarist might have injected some vital earthiness or grittiness or balance into the lineup both musically and personally. Maybe I'm way off but Dean's contribution in the early years deserves much credit and appreciation because his evolving style allowed the band to segue into new territory. I always thought his playing was subtle even when he was tearing up a solo.

The fact that Gary Numan invited Dean to play on the "Dance" album proves Dean's worth and ability to work within an experimental and avant guard setting.

Alas, Dean has forged his own life on his own terms, developing other talents (illustration) and areas of expertise (ornithology) in addition to music so good on him.
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