Crusaders Games

Gary Numan

Gary Numan is a favourite music artist of mine since i heard ‘Are Friends Electric’ on Top of the Pops in 1979 and bought the album ‘Replicas’ from my local record store. There have been high and low points since then, but his ongoing musical journey has been a part of my life. With the release of his latest album ‘Intruder’ in May this year it will be 19 solo studio albums, and 21 if you include his two Tubeway Army ones, and still more if you add in collaborations. I set myself an impossible task to try and list my two tracks from each of my favourite albums. I may adjust the rank order as i go along.

gnreplicasReplicas (1979) – Are Friends Electric / Down In The Park

Replicas was pretty thematic album throughout, based on a futuristic sci-fi world featuring robot relationships with humans. When i first listened it was so different to anything i had heard before i instantly knew this was my music. Are Friends Electric is a more lengthy song with an off key bridge which still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and I can get lost in its synth keyboard notes, as it relates the story of futuristic relationships with robot prostitutes that all look identical. Down in the Park was an unsuccessful single release, which is even darker are more sombre both lyrically and musically telling the story of the robot Machmen who hunt humans for sport. I also loved the way the album cover tied in well with the theme and lyrics.

gnppPleasure Principle (1979) – Cars / M.E. 

The Pleasure Principle was the follow up album to Replicas as he went solo by name and released one of the greatest synth albums, with has an amazing use of swirling chords and deep bass note rhythms. Cars was of course the huge single success, and another offering with an unusual song structure as the lyrics disappear half way leave you with a long instrumental ending. It remains a great pop single, and the way the late swirling chords phase across the speakers is still mesmerizing to me. Selecting a second to highlight was tough but M.E. is an epic tale from the perspective of the last machine on a dying planet.

 Telekon (1980) gntelekon– I Dream Of Wires / The Aircrash Bureau 

Telekon was the next album release after The Pleasure Principle, with a more layered approach to the songs and arguably his best ever album overall musically. I Dream of Wires is an amazing build up track, from a pulsing quieter opening but drums kicking in with a great bass rhythm half way through. I love the lyrics on this song, plus the downscale twinkling of the electric currents appearing from time to time. Aircrash Bureau is just a beautiful arrangement of classical string-like chords with an excellent bassline and piano overlay, truly a lovely track. There is so much to love on this album and i even had the leave out the excellent title track, and the singles released at the time were not even on this album.

gnsplinterSplinter (2013) – We’re The Unforgiven / The Calling 

Jump forward decades to the release of Splinter : Songs from a Broken Mind and we have an amazing return to top form throughout this album, which had been building through his previous releases. This album is themed on horror of a broken mind through the images and lyrics. We’re the Unforgiven is just a masterfully intricate merging of pulses, sounds and dark rhythms which build threateningly, and the construction of strange sounds and bridges in this song is just amazing. It tells of a godlike race that were once worshipped but their actions led to their own downfall. The Calling is a movie soundtrack style epic where someone is resisting being called to a purpose.

gndanceDance (1981) – She’s Got Claws / Slowcar To China 

Dance was the follow up album to Telekon and was the start of a fretless bass period, which ultimately led to a reducing commercial popularity. However this album for me remains a great one, mixing really lengthy songs over nine minutes with more shorter pieces. The longer tracks such as the epic journey that is Slowcar to China is unlike anything he did before, while She’s Got Claws was the more a commercial single style, but both featured a move away from sci-fi towards a new image and have a great funky groove to them. I still think this album is an underrated masterpiece though that is a bit of a classic in retrospect.

gnsavageSavage (2017) – The End Of Things / And It All Began With You 

The follow up to the album Splinter was Savage, another great album where it is hard to pick a favourite track from a number of great ones. The End of Things however is a strange mix of a more melodic verse followed by an angry and frustrated chorus that just pulls you into those moments where you really want to let rip on the darker sides of living. Behind these strong lyrics sits an almost ethereal chord chorus. It All Began With You is another of Numan’s great build up tracks that just escalates from a quiet beginning into emerging rhythms with piano and then an exquisite randomized note finish which just carries you away.

gnassassinI Assassin (1982) – A Dream Of Siam / The 1930’s Rust

The follow up album to Dance continuing with it’s familiar sound and more fretless bass, interspersed with occasional saxophone and soaring chords. There are plenty of stand out moments in here, and the album blend as a whole is really very nice. The rhythmical groove and eastern variation of A Dream of Siam of War Song is excellent and it is hard not to be impressed with the bassline lead, as is true with The 1930’s Rust which feels like it should form the backdrop a old detective movie. Whilst these are my favourite selections i have even managed not to highlight the two main singles which maybe shows the depth of this album which has a neat groove that has grown on me over the years.

gnjaggedJagged (2006) – Halo / Blind 

The turn of the century brought him back to top form with both the Pure and Jagged albums. Of the two i personally prefer Jagged, but both should be considered pretty dark and menacing compositions, generally leaving you with a feeling that something terrible is watching you or about to happen. On this album, Halo is a more melodically sung and single style track with a deep guitar driving it along but lyrically is asking questions of our perceived self justifications. Blind is a standout clever song with an anthemic chorus, neat piano interludes and background keyboards, but another dark theme looking at the thoughts of a man lost in darkness and despair.

gnberserkerBerserker (1984) – My Dying Machine / The Hunter 

The final album before he musically for me went astray for a while, this is a great piece of programmed wave synth with repeating drum an bass rhythms. It also has one of his last iconic album covers and outfits, as the bold blue and white iceman. This album is industrial and is still a favourite of mine with My Dying Machine being one of his great tracks including a nine minute extended version, referring to the breakdown of a ruling system or government. The Hunter is a faster paced song which neatly captures lyrical references from elsewhere in the album and has the emerging realization that an escape is impossible.

gnstrangeStrange Charm (1986) – My Breathing / The Sleeproom

The follow up to The Fury and while a mixed bag of tracks it does contain an all time favourite of mine called My Breathing, which is one of the few songs he has done with female vocals included that actually works well. I saw this played live at the Royal Albert Hall with an orchestra backing him and it was the best song of the evening for me as it really has a nice strings feel to it. The Sleeproom nicely fits alongside my other selection from the album with a pulsing bass synth, a nice melody and lost of added sound effects. The rest feels quite industrial, whatever that really means, and it was the start of a decline but just hangs onto being a good listen with some high moments.

gntubewayTubeway Army (1978) – The Life Machine / Something’s In The House

The forerunner to Replicas with a more raw sound at the back end of the punk era, this is still a great selection of tracks, much more guitar and rock and roll driven but the keyboards are in there as are the sci-fi influences in here which would be more fully formed in the next album. The Life Machine is a more keyboard led track for this album and certainly shows a glimpse of the future direction, while Somethings in the House is more guitar led rock track with great bassline and a groove to it. I can remember listening to this at school in the classroom.

The remaining albums in a rough ranking order :

Sacrifice (1994) / Dead Son Rising (2011) / Pure (2000) / Exile (1997) / Warriors (1983) / Metal Rhythm (1988) / The Fury (1985) / Outland (1991) / Machine & Soul (1992)