The Vapors

The Vapors were an English rock band that released the 1980–81 albums New Clear Days and Magnets on United Artists–Liberty. They foreshadowed the Second British Invasion with their transatlantic hit “Turning Japanese.” 

Members: David Fenton (vocals, guitar), Edward Bazalgette (lead guitar), Howard Smith (drums), Steve Smith (bass)

The Vapors assembled in Guildford, Surrey, in 1978 when guitarist, singer, and songwriter David Fenton teamed with lead guitarist Edward Bazalgette, bassist Steve Smith, and drummer Howard Smith (no relation) — all newcomers to the scene. They gigged locally as The Vapours but soon switched to the American spelling (no “u”).

Their early show at the Three Lions pub in Farncombe impressed Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, who linked them with manager John Weller (father of Jam frontman Paul Weller). The Vapors were the opening act on The Jam’s 1979 Setting Sons tour. United Artists signed The Vapors and issued their first single that autumn.

26 Oct 1979
A. “Prisoners”
B. “Sunstroke”


“Turning Japanese”

25 Jan 1980
A. “Turning Japanese”
B. “Here Comes the Judge (Live)”

Australia (Kent Music Report) 1
UK Singles (OCC) 3
Ireland (IRMA) 4
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 6
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 9
US Cash Box 31
US Billboard Hot 100 36

New Clear Days

The Vapors released their debut album, New Clear Days, in May 1980 on United Artists.

1. “Spring Collection” (2:52)
2. “Turning Japanese” (3:44)
3. “Cold War” (3:57)
4. “America” (2:22)
5. “Trains” (3:26)
6. “Bunkers” (3:54)

7. “News at Ten” (3:18)
8. “Somehow” (3:33)
9. “Sixty Second Interval” (3:52)
10. “Waiting for the Weekend” (3:07)
11. “Letter from Hiro” (6:23)

Basing Street, London
Roundhouse, London
The Town House, London
Producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven

6 Jun 1980
A1. “News at Ten”
B1. “Wasted”
B2. “Talk Talk”

5 Sep 1980
A. “Waiting for the Weekend”
B. “Billy”


6 Feb 1981
A. “Spiders”
B. “Galleries for Guns”


The Vapors released their second album, Magnets, on March 9, 1981, on Liberty.

1. “Jimmie Jones” (3:23)
2. “Spiders” (4:57)
3. “Isolated Case” (Edward Bazalgette, Steve Smith) – 3:30
4. “Civic Hall” (3:39)
5. “Live at the Marquee” (4:04)

6. “Daylight Titans” (3:23)
7. “Johnny’s in Love (Again)” (3:45)
8. “Can’t Talk Anymore” (3:18)
9. “Lenina” (2:46)
10. “Silver Machines” (3:52)
11. “Magnets” (6:14)

Recorded November 1980
Studio Rock City, Shepperton; Farmyard Studios, Little Chalfont
Producer David Tickle

Robin Lumley – keyboard programming
Joe Blaney – assistant engineer

22 May 1981
A. “Jimmie Jones (Remix Version)”
B. “Daylight Titans (Remix Version)”


  • New Clear Days (1980)
  • Magnets (1981)


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