The Art of Parties 7in 1981 front

The Art of Parties is the title of a song by Japan released as a single on Virgin records in April 1981 and later included in a re-recorded version on the group's final studio album Tin Drum. The song was written by David Sylvian and arranged by Japan and produced by John Punter and Japan.

Single release

The Art of the Parties was the first new track to be released after the Gentlemen Take Polaroids album and associated singles. The track featured a new sound for the band, with a more 'funky' bassline and brass section plus female backing vocals. Writing in Smash Hits reviewer Mark Ellen described the single as "..."a safety shot". It keeps a finger in every pie known to modern music". [1]

Initial copies of the 7" were issued in a special fold-out sleeve with cover concept and design by David Sylvian and photographs by group drummer Steve Jansen (Sylvian's brother). A standard 7" picture sleeve was then used. The front cover features a picture of Sylvian listening to music on a Sony Walkman which were just coming into use at the time.

A 12" version featuring a longer version of the track was also issued. The B-side another new track Life Without Buildings. Like previous singles this one also failed to chart.

The release of the single was supported by a short UK tour which included two nights at Hammersmith Odeon, London. (pics here)


  • 7" VS 409

A. The Art of Parties (3:55)

B. Life Without Buildings (6:40)

  • 12" VS 409-12

A. The Art of Parties (6:41)

B. Life Without Buildings (6:40)

  • 12" VEP 305, Canada.

A1. The Art of Parties (6.41)

A2. The Width of a Room (3:14)

B1. Life Without Buildings (6:40)

B2. The Experience of Swimming (4:06)

The Arto f Parties single release and tour dates ad Smash Hits, April 30, 1981 - p.22

Album version

A newly recorded version of the song is featured as the opening track on Japan's final studio album Tin Drum. This version is slightly longer than the single recording and was produced by Steve Nye and the band, with a sound more coherent with the rest of the album.


  • Guitarist Rob Dean is not credited on the single although did play with the group, for the last time, on the tour.


Japan - The Art of Parties (Old Grey Whistle Test, 1982)

Japan - The Art of Parties (Old Grey Whistle Test, 1982)

Japan perform The Art of Parties live on OGWT, 22 October 1982.