Rain Tree Crow reissued on 180g vinyl

As predicted, when the David Sylvian vinyl reissues were announced, the 1991 Japan reunion album called Rain Tree Crow is also getting the same reissue treatment in March.

Recorded in 1989 and 1990, the album featuring David Sylvian, Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri, and Mick Karn (with additional contributions from Bill Nelson, Phil Palmer, and Michael Brook) and most of the material on this album was derived from group improvisations, in the studio. It was the first time the four members of Japan had collaborated since 1982.

It has been 28 years since this has been available on vinyl. This new edition is a 180g pressing and comes with a download card. It’s released on 29 March 2019 and is available via the SDE shop, as well as the usual channels.

Compare prices and pre-order

Rain Tree Crow

Rain Tree Crow [VINYL]


Side A

1. Big Wheels In Shanty Town
2. Every Colour You Are
3. Rain Tree Crow
4. Red Earth (As Summertime Ends)
5. Pocket Full Of Change

Side B

1. Boat’s For Burning
2. New Moon At Red Deer Wallow
3. Blackwater
4. A Reassuringly Dull Sunday
5. Blackcrow Hits Shoe Shine City
6. Scratchings On The Bible Belt
7. Cries and Whispers

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Jim Frost

Does anyone know what quality the download is?

As an aside I wish that when a vinyl has a download mentioned it would give this information. I’ve had everything from 160k mp3 up to 24bitWAV over recent years and it is usually a lottery as to what you get until you enter the code. At least with Bandcamp for instance the download is a minimum of “CD quality” and more often higher.


My pre-order from Amazon Canada was just cancelled…

“We’re sorry to report the release of the following item has been cancelled:

  Sylvian, David “Rain Tree Crow (Vinyl)”

Although we’d expected to be able to send this item to you, we’ve since found it won’t be released after all.  Please accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience we’ve caused you.”

Is this true?

FYI it’s still showing on the Amazon US & UK sites. Have put in another order on A.UK.

Chris Hanington

I had the same email sent to me. Not sure why this is but perhaps Amazon.ca will re list it again. Otherwise, I guess I will be ordering it from Amazon UK.
Does anyone know anything that we should know?


Amazon.ca has relisted the vinyl. Put in another order today


What I really would like and buy would be a first vinyl release of “Everything and Nothing”.
Just to give Lord Sylvian credit where credit is due. Even if his snobbery wouldn’ t deserve it too much.

Even though age (and snobbery) make you see life in a completely different way and this obviously influences your creativity leading it towards bleakness, sometimes for a change it is good for an artist to go back.
Just give a call to Sakamoto, another one disappeared up his arse as Kevin here below would say, and write something along the lines of Heartbeat and the “Beauty” LP.

Kevin Galliford

I agree Cris, someone on here said a while back that DS had actually retired, does anyone know if this is true? Realistically I Don’t see another proper album even though everyone in his fanbase would buy it! Or are we all just going to Le left with the choice of whether or not to buy a fifty quid book & that’s it?


I don’t think he retired per say. He had health problems (serious back injury) in 2011 and cancelled the Implausible Beauty tour. Since Manafon (his last album if you don’t count There’s a Light That Enters Houses…a one track cd) in 2009, he’s mainly worked on compilations, reissues, spoken word and side projects with other artists. Maybe he hasn’t fully recovered (it’s tough to have back problems at his age, it takes a lot of time to heal and sometimes you never really heal and have to deal with pain daily). His friend Ryuichi Sakamoto battled cancer, Mick Karn and Holger Czukay died so maybe he’s more concerned about his previous works and legacy after seeing so many of his artist friends die in the past few years.

Kevin Galliford

Thanks poptones. Better just keep enjoying the back catalogue! Listening to “Manofon” as I type actually. Might well be followed by “Approaching Silence” – my favourite instrumental pieces by the man.


I was always wondering how David Sylvian can afford a retirement. I don‘t think that he has earned enormous amounts of money during his career. And „Playing in the Schoolhouse“ doesn‘t pay your rent for sure.

Kevin Galliford

Ted, he’s charging 50 quid for a photo book on his website & it was 65 for an autographed book if you were quick enough so he ca’t be a pauper at those prices! 2 more books to follow too! Maybe he could do a box of 12″ singles & charge Depeche Mode prices if he’s short of a bob or 2,…

Chris Squires

Kevin, just paid £150 (December) for a signed Lyric book by Kate Bush and £375 (January) for a doodle by Yoko Ono so £65 for fantastic pictures of David in his pomp is an absolute steal, particularly if it is signed..


About the book Like Planets by Yuuka Fujii, there were 500 copies nulbered and signed by him and David Sylvian. I paid £65 for it when I pre-ordered the item and I don’t regret it. I love the photographs, it’s a true work of art, the book is superb and I don’t think I overpaid for that. It’s quality paper, quality photos and overall an art book and these books are often pricey. For what it’s worth, I paid £20 for each of the Trophies books (lyrics of David Sylvian) at the time they were released and the Trophies books were much smaller and the paper thiner. £50 for Like Planets seems fair to me and charging only £15 more for a numbered and signed edition doesn’t seem excessive for me.

Kevin Galliford

Pop tones, I bought the photo book too. I agree, it’s very well done & also interesting as obviously there was a lot going on behind the scenes with Japan breaking up & the start of his solo career ( which still gives me a lot of pleasure by the way ) but it was a lot of money for what it’s worth. Manic Street Preachers have done 2 large format photo books which cost nothing like 50 quid!. I’m not moaning by the way, no one forced me to pay it but it shows you what people are willing to pay! Even the PSB “Catalogue” book a few years back was nothing like 50 quid back then. My only regret is I never got a DS autographed edition as by the time I found out about it, the signed copies had gone & I never got one of the random signed editions. As a side comment, the Bowie “Ricochet” book cost me only 20 quid & that is better in every department than the DS book but that’s just me.


Surely Everything and Nothing was superceded by A Victim of Stars?

As for this album, I’m not a fan. I bought the CD single and was underwhelmed. It wasn’t like Japan and wasn’t as good as any of the solo stuff released by any of the four either.

Kevin Galliford

I never liked this at the time & I would’nt buy it on any format let alone vinyl. I hear what people are saying about him basically disappearing up his own arse with the spoken word / poetry excerpts but there’s something strangely beautiful about his music & I find it timeless to listen to after a day dealing with bollox in work , it’s perfect & chillin without ever being boring. Make no mistake, some of it is bloody hard work on the first few listens ( Manofen being a prime example) but after a while appreciation for it grows. He’s the perfect antidote to the Shiite on the radio & best of all, every time I find it difficult to sleep, “Plight and premonition “ is perfect for rectifying the problem & has been for 20 odd years now. Now can we have an album of proper songs please? Ha ha ha. I don’t know know of anyone who likes his music so it’s great to be able to discus it here so thank you Paul!.


Rain Tree Crow is a great album. I have the original 1991 Deluxe Japanese CD edition with the superb black cover and an additional booklet with the lyrics in japanese and english and photographs by Katsuhiro Kinoshita and also the 2003 remastered edition which contains a bonus track (I drink to forget). I don’t have it on vinyl so I will probably buy this vinyl reissue it as the price is friendly.

About the album itself and David Sylvian, I don’t really understand people who complain about the album not being pop enough or Sylvian being pompous, arrogant, too intellectual. Mick Karn told in an interview the sessions lasted almost 2 years and it was decided from the beginning :
– they would use the Rain Tree Crow moniker
– they would release 2 or 3 albums under that name
– the album would be poppy and influenced by the solo works of each member

They entered the studio without any material or demos, they improvised and created all the songs in the studio. As they progressed sessions after sessions, tensions started to arise and they found out their work was less pop than they thought and they ran out of money because it took too long to complete (almost two years). Then Virgin offered more money to the band but only if they accepted to release the album as Japan. Mick Karn, Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri accepted but Sylvian didn’t want to make that compromise. Mick Karn explained he only agreed to change the name to Japan because he thought the album was obscure and experimental and not going to chart or even get exposure and he thought it would be a shame because he was happy with all the songs they created in the studio. That’s why he thought if people saw the name Japan instead of Rain Tree Crow on the cover, fans, newspapers, magazines, critics, radios would notice the album and give it a chance. Mick Karn also explained they only made one album because it took them two years to finish the sessions and there was no way they would spend two more years on a follow up album. But he said all band members were happy with the sessions, orchestrations and the sound, they just didn’t like it when Sylvian decided to mix the album himself with the help of Steve Nye and Pat McCarthy. The name Japan was just supposed to help them sell more albums and Virgin wanted to release a Japan compilation soon after. Sylvian didn’t care about sales or a Japan compilation, he wanted to be true to the project and band name they all agreed on before the sessions started. Japan belonged to the past and there was no artistic reason to use that name and I agree with him even if I understand Mick Karn’s point of view.

Hans Utrecht NL

GREAT album this is. I just keep on playing it. Wonderful to have it on Vinyl.
Recommended to all my friends.


I love “Catch the Fall” by the Dolphin Brothers. Currently nowhere in stock, are there plans to reissue that one also?


My Favorite: “My Winter”


I read the recent biography of the members of Japan post 1984 and there is a very detailed chapter on the Rain Tree Crow sessions.
The recording sessions all went very well and this was to be the first of a series of three albums.
But when the project went over budget this precipitated a fall out.
Virgin agreed to provide additional funding on the basis that all releases come under the name ‘Japan’ and not RTC.
Sylvian (against the wishes of the other members ) vetoed the idea of a reunion so for months the recordings sat in limbo.
Eventually Sylvian took all the master recordings and at his individual expense made the final album mix, song choices, running order, etc.
Virgin agreed to release this material as RTC but this effectively ended the reunion.
It is known that additional tracks were completed – Sylvian finished mixing 20+ tracks so there is at least about half an album in the vaults.
These recordings have not been recycled on later Sylvian releases so it is a disappointment.
Sylvian is a contrarian. The band was called Japan, he chose the name, he promoted the name, he can’t have it both ways. I remember when the LP was released, when a song was introduced on the radio they had to say formally Japan. Talk about a buzz kill.
It would not have killed him to work with his band mates, Mick Karn deserved more, there are some great songs on that LP but Sylvian wanted it to fail by the sounds of it, a glorious failure.

Morrissey said that he did not eat meat but would sooner have his own privates fried and served to him to him than reform The Smiths.

Sylvian thought the same but wanted both.


Yes had read that, and it tells you why Japan broke up and Sylvian had to follow his own path. Surprising then that they even tried together, but again it wasn’t in studio conflicts that “split up the band” again.
Sylvian of course had at that time continued to work with the lads, incl 2 brilliant tracks off Mick Karns ’87 album – ‘buoy’, ‘when love walks in’.


Some third-party Amazon sellers reporting that existing Marketplace listings of used/new Sylvian vinyl are being removed by Amazon presumably in an effort to boost sales of these significantly more expensive re-releases.

Seeing this more and more now. Pretty despicable if you ask me whether it comes from Amazon or the record company in thinking they can fix the market in this way.


Amazon get about 15% on the sale of media from third-party sellers. They make more than that by selling it themselves so it does make sense to steer sales back to themselves wherever possible.


When I sell on Amazon I rarely make much. If I sell a cd for $5 I get about $3, but they charge$3.99 for shipping out of which I get about $1.50 of that. After I spend $3.50 for shipping there is $1.00 left for me.
I don’t sell enough to justify their monthly selling fees.
I do sell some higher priced items, but rarely. Sellers are very competitive and continually adjust their prices. High volume vendors can sell for next to nothing cause they shift a lot of product and they recieve a higher percentage of the shipping and that is their profit.
This may be different in the UK. I purchase from UK sellers all of the time and get great prices cause I don’t pay VAT.


This was a brilliant album – sad that the perceived self importance of some of the commentators here has overtaken any positives about this work.


Can we stop the Sylvian bashing for once? There is not one single instance on the net these days when Japan or Sylvian are discussed where David Sylvian doesn’t get hailed with harsh criticism, personal attacks (his name dragged in the mud) and doubts about his validity as an artist. Enjoy the music and refrain from judging!

Archie Dalrymple

“Refrain from judging”? isn’t that the definition of “enjoying”?
I like some things, don’t like others – how do I do that without judging?

related to this release…
I totally “got” Japan, I didn’t “get” Rain Tree Crow…..then again Radiohead lost me for about 15 years and now I consider them one of the most important bands the uk has ever produced.

Apologies for all the “inverted commas”.

Mike the Fish

Don’t “worry” about it.


Totally agree Dr Volume… I can’ t remember if there were also “legal” reasons or simply final arguments on the part of arrogant Sylvian for not using the name Japan…
Of course Japan was one of the great aspects of Pop in the Eighties, when we could choose among many “currents” and music was not homologated hip-hop as today (as Steven Wilson rightly said in an interview); Tin Drum was not Rio nor Lexicon and people who decided to listen to Japan would have been perfectly capable of following them in further more elaborated developments.

This said, at the time I was enthusiastic for the reunion and totally disappointed by the album, which, talking about names, could have had “David Sylvian” written on it. Pretentious, arrogant, minimalist… You don’ t reunite Japan for this.
I will not criticise other people’ s tastes, because my pop “sensibility” and search for a song structure may sometimes interfere.
But you can be “art” and “intellectual” still producing great pop: see Brilliant Trees (first and last example in Sylvian’ s snobby solo career based on “spoken word”, “samples”, “poetry excerpts”, and other such nonsense, also demonstrated in his live appearances) and see all of poor Mick Karn’ s (a REAL musician) production, even with the two other intellectuals Jansen and Barbieri as JBK. For instance, Dali’ s Car is not “accessible”, but it is marvellous art pop.
As always, at the time I was 21 and now I am 49: you change with age and accumulation of new music you listen to, so I may give it another listen. But I think I already did so more than ten years ago, and my point of view did not change. Only anger at what such reunion COULD have produced, which is, ironically and almost as an insult added to the injury, hinted at in certain moments of the record (probably Blackwater as someone mentioned, I can’ t really remember), with brilliant sparks of the old Japan promptly muted by his Excellency David of Sylvian.

Chris Squires

I will nail my colours to the mast, “I am a huge fan of David Sylvian” and whilst I can agree with quite a bit of what you say Cris, I would just make one short rebuttal. “Secrets of the Beehive”.

I am a massive Pop fan and can Kershaw, King, HoJo and Wham! along with the best of ’em and whilst Secrets is not exactly nine “Wake me up before you Go Go”s it is so much more than snobby and inaccessible. You can have some of the other stuff but I want Secrets of the Beehive as one of my Desert Island discs. It’s almost perfect as an entire album.


Hi Chris yes you have a very good point there… You are right regarding SotB.
Lucky there are Boy with the Gun and Orpheus to counterbalance Maria and Let the Happiness In, but that’ s just me as I said before, so you get my point. It’ s not Wham! but it is not supposed to be. A homogeneous album indeed.

P. S.: Dr Volume: just found out that the mixing engineer on the RTC album was one “Pat McCarthy”… You get away by the skin of your teeth there as regards unwanted guests..!

P. P. S.: R.naud: no idea of what’ s going on on the i.net concerning Sylvian. Just expressing my opinion. (and maybe that of a friend who went to see him live years ago and paid something like 48 Euro for the ticket: Sylvian came, played for 46 minutes, came back, played the first five notes of Forbidden Colours on the piano and then went definitively away. We always laugh so much when he ends the recount saying: “I practically paid a Euro a minute for that *****!!!”)

Dr Volume

Always thought it rather pompous of David Sylvian to insist on calling this Rain Tree Crow instead of Japan…as if to suggest this is something elevated above the mere Pop froth that preceded it. Insulting to the intelligence of the fans I thought, as if to suggest they couldn’t accept something a bit more ambient and improvised from the group called Japan, as if they weren’t capable of holding more than one thought about what Pop music can be. ‘Tin Drum’ was hardly ‘Rio’ or ‘Lexicon of Love’ was it”?

I’ll get this one though, reasonably priced and at least Fab Macca isn’t a guest on it otherwise it’d cost 300 quid and come in a bucket of actual rain, with a tree shoved in it and a stuffed crow nesting on top..and a jigsaw.


I’ve just choked on my Egypt Station breakfast cereal!


now, if I were on social media i’d ensure that “Egypt Station breakfast cereal” (and thousands of other permutations) was trending….
*!*CLASSIC*!* thumbs up to MarkyP

Tim Abbott

‘Tin Drum’ was hardly ‘Rio’ or ‘Lexicon of Love’ was it”?

It certainly wasn’t. ‘Lexicon Of Love’ is high watermark for art-pop, and is miles better than anything Japan ever did, regardless of what they called themselves.

Chris Squires

In your humble opinion… I am sure you meant to add.
Just to check one sentence.
“Lexicon of Love is miles better than anything Japan ever did.”


Mike the Fish

I’d take Quiet Life over Lexicon of Love.

Tom from FIN

Yep, Tin Drum is more. A masterpiece and Japan’s saturation point and surely above Rio. Not pop. Breaking even with Lexicon of Love. Durans’ debut BTW beating Rio musically. LOL

Wondered why Japan camp has not been able to produce any kind of deluxe editions. No bonuses of any kind in reissues. Hardly about demand potential.


I remember reading somewhere that Sylvian intended to use Rain Tree Crow as an umbrella name for a series of improvisation based albums with different collaborators. He worked with the other Japan members on the first one as he felt they knew each other well enough to be a good first improv project – although he never told them that was his intention.


Hi Tom
There was a boxed reissue of Tin Drum with a four track EP of extras called The Art Of Parties with 2 versions of Parties 12″ and live, single of Ghosts and Life Without Buildings. I don’t know if they did any of the other albums though

Dr Volume

But it *was* Pop (and I mean that in the best possible sense like the aforementioned ABC etc). Japan were in Smash Hits, they were on Top of the Pops, they were glam and wore poptastic clothes and make up to Duran and co and used some of the same instrumentation, they duked it out in the charts with Shakin’ Stevens and Bucks Fizz …that’s what I liked about Japan, they were essentially a pop group but they were tinkering at the margins and bending Pop into their own weird shape, see ‘Ghosts’ turning things ice cold on ToTP.

Alone With Strangers

PS Paul, there were five members of Japan, not four…..


Well, I wouldn‘t count Rob Dean in. He left the band after GTP and didn‘t contribute to their final album.

Chris Squires

This discussion has been had before when the last Sylvian reissues were launched.

And I agreed with you at the beginning Tcf, I too discounted Rob Dean. I had to admit by the end though that I was wrong. It’s difficult to discount Rob Dean, he may have been in some way a different beast than the other boys but he was a key part of Japan for 80% of their Studio output before he was sidelined. That’s more than people like Fish, Peter Gabriel, Andy and Roger Taylor et.al. gave to their respective bands.


You are absolutely right that Rob Dean contributions were important for Japan as a band. Just think of his superb e-bow on the track “Gentlemen take polaroids”. Love it. Not to talk about Japan Mk I (Adolescent Sex/Obscure Alternatrives) where he was a very important part of the sound of the band. But I’m quite sure that he never ever was on the cards for the Rain Tree Crow Project.

Alone With Strangers

Well he’s a very good friend of mine and I think he’d be pretty aggrieved by “Well, I wouldn‘t count Rob Dean in. He left the band after GTP and didn‘t contribute to their final album.” considering he contributed a signature sound to 80% of their studio content.

Yours sincerely.


Interesting that UMG has retained the original artwork, unlike the Sylvian solo releases due out this weekend. Glad that it’s available once again

Brian McNeill

Very welcome reissue and one I shall be getting as the rest of the vinyl reissues have all been top notch, but all done by Uni via Look Out Joe who also did the eno half speed vinyl remasters as well, so they will look and sound amazing, I’m In!


I cannot wait to get this! Fantastic record by Japan under a different name. Their Americana album (and a precursor to the americanisms of Dead Bees on a Cake…)


It would be fantastic to have these Japan remasters as a quality CD edition.

Alone With Strangers

As with the other Sylvian releases, they aren’t remastered: Universal are using the original masters so if you have the original CDs then you will already have these versions on CD.


wonder why it’s not in the US store


love the album but it’s bittersweet given how it all unfolded during and after recording it.

Mr Steven Porter

Are any of these releases remasters I wonder?

alan hansen

an incredibly underrated album by the Japan-gents; not just based on the resulting quality of the work, but also the methods and strategies used to achieve it. I don’t need this vinyl release, but it’s always nice to see this title in mention.

Chris Squires

This is a fabulous album, utterly beguiling, and shows where Japan could have gone if other things hadn’t got in the way.

Bang goes the value of my original, but it is great that others might find this wonderful album.

Tyronne Mayadunne

Blackwater is my favourite song of ALL time!


A very noble outlook Chris S given that the value of your original has reduced. Fair play to you, but I don’t know if it’s my age or what…. the Lennon / Ono Wedding outing gets the 50th anniversary SDE treatment whilst Rain Tree Crow is a youthful 27 years of age.. Maybe it’s indicative of vinyls / musics final fling??


All I ever wanted was for Japan to never break up. All the rest is just words. Who knows what great music could have been created by such great musicians. It is a matter of cooperation and respect for each other. Sadly Sylvian’s music turned into sadness.. although I greatly enjoy listening to many of his songs, which are splendid compositions, It always leaves a taste of depression in my mouth that is not so easily accessible to most. Especially in his latest work where depression has grown out of proportions…