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 2021 it will be 19 solo studio albums, and 21 if you include his two Tubeway Army releases, and still more if you add in collaborations. I set myself a tough task to try and rank the albums and list my two tracks from each. It was awesome to see and hear him on tour again in May 2022.

Pleasure 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 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.

Replicas (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.

Telekon (1980) – 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.

Splinter (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 by an unknown being.

Dance (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 at over nine minutes with more standard length pieces. The longer tracks such as the epic journey that is Slowcar to China is unlike anything he did before and meanders through a mesmerising musical journey. She’s Got Claws was of a more commercial single style, but both featured a move away from sci-fi towards a new image and feature a more funky groove to them. I still think this album is an underrated gem that is also quite boundary pushing in retrospect.

Intruder (2021) – Now And Forever / The Gift

The latest release and a great mix of darkness and melody, where the planet earth is crying out to mankind over it’s devastation and destruction. Now and Forever is one of my favourite tracks of his, a tale of devotion to the love of his or her life, and the lyrics even bring a tear to my eye when i think of how much i love my lovely wife. The Gift has a really nice melody and rhythm and becomes another highlight from his more recent era of writing. The highest points on this album for me exceed his recent releases and it is generally great throughout anyway. The Intruder title track and The Chosen also get a special mention even though they didn’t quite make my top two.

Savage (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.

I 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.

Jagged (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.

Berserker (1984) – My Dying Machine / The Hunter

The final great album of the 80’s before he musically for me started to produce records with more mixed results, 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 a trio of amazing tracks well supported elsewhere, Berserker and on the run theme, My Dying Machine referring to the breakdown of a ruling system or government, and The Hunter a faster paced song which neatly captures lyrical references from elsewhere in the album and has the emerging realization that an escape is impossible.

Dead Son Rising (2011) – Dead Sun Rising / Rest of My Life 

This album was put together initially by producer Ade Fenton, building from off cut track sessions and creating full songs. It was intended as a filler album between Jagged and Splinter and ended up as a mix of instrumentals and vocal tracks, but overall is another great album from the more recent era, fitting in well alongside the Jagged album in particular. Favoured tracks include Dead Sun Rising and Rest Of My Life. The latter is a heartbreaking tale of the loss of loved one. It a also reprised as a piano instrumental. This album contains loads of off key melody notes which i really like and is pretty unique.

Tubeway 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.

Strange 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.

Pure (2000) – Walking With Shadows / Pure

Onto his heaviest album in terms of its industrial guitar rock, and lyrically explores menacing themes from the shadows and dreams, but also covers the severe emotions from loss. Walking with Shadows is a dark and almost hypnotic pulsing song which tells the story of a girl in a coma who is being menaced by dark entities while unconscious, and is not for the faint hearted. Pure is one of a trio of angry tracks and on the heavier side, where the chorus comes close to a rant and depicts an attack on angels. This album is possibly the most threatening of all his releases and becomes more of an acquired taste.

The remaining albums in a rough ranking order :  Sacrifice (1994) / Exile (1997) / Warriors (1983) / Metal Rhythm (1988) / The Fury (1985) / Outland (1991) / Machine & Soul (1992)