The Vapours: Turning Japanese (1980)

 |   |  1 min read

The Vapours: Turning Japanese (1980)

Ever wondered why the English New Wave band The Vapours were just a one-hit wonder with Turning Japanese? They don't. They know exactly why.

A little background though: they were from Guildford and the mainman was singer/songwriter Dave Fenton who had a day job as a solicitor. Playing as the Vapours, the four-piece were spotted by Bruce Foxton of the Jam who was impressed.

The Vapours were given a couple of support slots with the Jam and then the Jam's manager John Weller took them on. They were duly signed to the Liberty label (for the album New Clear Days) and after the unsuccessful single Prisoners they unleashed their finest and briefest moment, a song which took its title from an expression for masturbating: Turning Japanese.

The single did well in the States especially, their second album Magnets of '81 produced by David Tickle who had worked with Split Enz did well also on release in March '81 . . . and that was it. Within a few months they had split.

Why?

Fenton said that when they were working on a new single the record company guy said he loved it -- but then cancelled the sessions. So Fenton figured, "Sod this" and went back to the day job. Apparently he's a music industry lawyer these days.

There is another and more intriguing version however: that Paul Weller was miffed that Turning Japanese spent more time in the UK top 20 than the Jam's Going Underground so told his dad to drop the Vapours from his roster. Which he did.

Either way, with no management and no honesty from the record company, the Vapours simply disappeared -- but they did leave behind a cracking pop single in Turning Japanese.

Almost as good as the Knack's My Sharona!

(Thanks to the website ModPopPunk Archives here for keeping this music and these stories out there.) 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with a backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

The Viscounts: Harlem Nocturne (1959)

The Viscounts: Harlem Nocturne (1959)

In the final month of the Fifties, the Viscounts covered this piece which Ray Noble and His Orchestra had introduced two decades previous. But to it the Viscounts brought a sleazy menace in the... > Read more

Peter Cook: Bedazzled (1968)

Peter Cook: Bedazzled (1968)

Although best seen in the context of the hilarious Bedazzled film -- where poor Dudley Moore is granted wishes by the Devil (the smarmy and petty Peter Cook) -- this song still resonates for its... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HUGUES PANASSIE: Writing a line through jazz

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HUGUES PANASSIE: Writing a line through jazz

Depending on what angle you look at Hugues Panassie from, the Parisian was either jazz's greatest European advocate and instigator in the Thirties and Forties. Or he was a divisive and... > Read more

FRANK TURNER: AUDIO INTERVIEW (2010): The documentarian of politics and the soul

FRANK TURNER: AUDIO INTERVIEW (2010): The documentarian of politics and the soul

British singer-songwriter Frank Turner moves between many worlds with ease: he plays to hardcore audiences (and started his career in such bands) but also works the folk circuit. He also plays huge... > Read more