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Tubeway Army – Replicas / Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle / Telekon

The Arkive/Beggars Banquet

Gary Numan’s Top Of The Pops performance of “Are Friends Electric” was the Bowie “Starman” flashpoint for my generation (those creeping around the 50s age bracket). In school the next day we had many discussions about it, the weird music, the weird look, etc; it was like Kraftwerk but darker and, to be honest, just seemed alien to us.

That performance changed lots of people’s lives and here I am, thirty-six years later, reviewing some beautiful audiophile 180 gram vinyl re-pressings of Numan’s three most important albums of his early career. So please bear with me if some nostalgia creeps into my review as I go along, because in a strange way it’s difficult to review these albums that have been part of my life for so long without straying back to my 14-year-old self. I’m going to use these albums in context with other releases, but

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Gary Numan (live at The Forum)

Gary Numan live at The Forum October 2015

London 23 October 2015

Can you imagine how hard it was being Gary Numan in 1989? A decade earlier, shortly after “Are Friends Electric?” had been released in May 1979, Tubeway Army made their triumphant appearance on Top of the Pops, and the sound of a generational gasp could be heard all the way from Truro to Inverness. Punk’s white light had burned away so much dead wood, reinvigorating youth culture and opening the door for those with the boldness of vision to step through it. Now, a new dream of futurism seemed completely embodied in Tubeway Army’s woozy Polymoog synth wash and Numan’s cold, android stare. Like the Apollo space programme earlier in the decade, Numan’s emergence into the musical firmament promised a new dawn that felt so close you could almost reach out and touch it.

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Gary Numan (live at The Forum)

London 7 December 2012

Picture copyright (C) Emerson Tan 2012It’s cold outside… but nice and cosy warm in The Forum, where the throng of Numanoids, all wonderfully resplendent in black, have gathered to hear the music from the master. While the intro music plays the anticipation and tension mounts. Crys of “NuuuuuuMaaaaan!” ring out around the venue. Then suddenly the lights go out and a massive roar goes up from the crowd as the stage set is revealed. Two synthesizer players sit either side of a drum kit surrounded by their keyboards, all three atop a platform that has cold white lights shining from inside. This design reminded me a little of his ’79 Living Ornaments set, and it was perfectly in keeping because tonight

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Back to the Phuture: Gary Numan/Motor/John Foxx (live at The Troxy)

The Troxy London 2 April 2011 So nostalgia culture bravely forges into the ever more recent past. John Foxx ambles amiably on; I think people are welcoming, the odd chin wobbling in appreciation, but this is not a high energy crowd. I am used to hot venues, sweat dripping off the walls, a cloud rising off the mosh-pit. This, however, is the heat of the retirement home and it is soporific. Mr Foxx traipses through “Underpass” and “Hiroshima Mon Amour”but, but… do all electronic classics lose their charm when they sound like they have been run through pro-tools? I’m sure it is technically better but that isn’t the point. I liked the sound of people stretching the barriers of what could be done at the time, so if you are going to be bothered going over it all over again why

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