A Nacho production.
Crystal Japan was originally released as a single in Japan in February 1980. A year later it was finally released in the UK as the B-side of the Up The Hill Backwards single. In ’92 Ryko included it as a bonus track on their reissue of the album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).
The footage here is from three of the1980 Japanese TV commercials for Crystal Jun Rock, a Japanese liquor. The ad featured Crystal Japan in the soundtrack.
Quoting Chris O’Leary, from his always excellent blog, Pushing Ahead of the Dame:
“In early 1980, Bowie did a TV ad for a Japanese shochu manufacturer, Crystal Jun Rock, filming a spot at a Kyoto temple and licensing out an instrumental outtake called “Fuji Moto San” (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “Fuje San Moto”). “The money is a useful thing,” Bowie later said, also noting that he got more airplay via TV ads then he did with radio at the time.
Though often referred to as a Scary Monsters outtake, and originally intended to be the album’s closer (a Japanese counterpart to “It’s No Game (No. 1)”), it’s likely that at least some of “Crystal Japan” was recorded prior to those sessions, possibly in Mountain Studios in Switzerland. (It’s established that Bowie filmed the ad in March 1980, in a break between Monsters‘ recording sessions.) “Japan” sounds unlike anything else from Scary Monsters, too—it’s far more in line with earlier ambient pieces like “Moss Garden.”
While it made sense to cut it from Scary Monsters, where “Japan” would have been an even more anomalous LP closer than “Secret Life of Arabia,” it’s a shame that “Crystal Japan” has been generally forgotten, as it has some of Bowie’s most gorgeous melodies of the period: the first childlike motif that begins at :25, the subsequent “choral” melody and development that follow it, and the resolution, with a rising-and-falling synthesized bass (almost gong-like), and the tiny three-note patterns that appear before the curtain falls. It’s “Warszawa” in miniature.”
Another desperate attempt to create something from the Scary Monsters era. But actually, this video had to happen; the material was just begging for it!
Erasing the Japanese script was tricky and created a few unresolvable glitches, but overall I think it works quite well.
Hope you dig it!
Do me an’ yerself a favor – watch it in the Highest Def available with the sound UP LOUD!
If anyone has any other footage, or ideas for another video project, of material from Bowie’s classic period, do please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Putting this video together was another huge labour of love, made with love and with respect for the source.
I don’t own the rights, and I’m not making any money out of this etc. Just a fan making videos for other fans.
Nacho, 4th January 2017.