This one’s from 1978 - Japan’s second album, Obscure Alternatives. The band folded long ago, but its singular frontman David Sylvain is still out there, doing provocative solo and collaborative work which is, on the whole, more sophisticated than the earliest Japan material. Though the seeds of his iconoclastic sensibility are lurking in Rhodesia, this is an altogether earthier, more visceral vibe than the coolly detached, almost clinical approach of later Japan albums. The song jacks in and opens up straight away; the beat, the way the instruments and vocals mesh together with so much brash attitude - it's simply brilliant. The fretless bass has to be the best thing about it - it’s muscular, elastic, effortless and always supremely melodic. Mick Karn, who died in 2011 at the age of 52, had superb chops and instincts. The vivid lateral poetry of the lyrics are a challenge to decode, and what it all means is probably very much beside the point - it’s a number which grooves with swagger and verve. Rhodesia mashes up funk, rock and reggae in a sublimely off-kilter manner.
Posted by Max MacDonald