Music Reviews

“numan_gary”

Gary Numan/Tubeway Army

The Plan

Beggars Banquet

Gary Numan

Dance

Beggars Banquet

Remember him like this.

Dispel the last fifteen unkind years from your mind. Forget all recent Numan sightings, and that DOES include his interview on VH1’s (kill me) Where Are They Now , any Eighties retrospective shows, those godawful Cleopatra reissues, and especially his “collaboration” with Fear Factory. Tripe. Bollocks. Shit. THESE are the official documents from the Numan canon. Beggars Banquet are answering to a higher calling now, the mission of setting the record truly straight and telling the world about the once-daunting genius of Gary Numan.

Remember him like this.

When he emerged at 20 like a cipher at the tail end of the British punk scene with a head full of Burroughs, eyes glazed over with Bowie, and his uncle on the drums. This is The Plan , a compilation of early Numan oddities, EPs, and singles that Beggars released years ago to capitalize on Numan’s then-rampant success. But does it work? Yes, it does. Numan v. 1.0 is much more guitar driven than “Cars-boy” (as heathen know him), but the angular coldness of his riffing serves as a thrilling herald of what was to come. Numan, even as a naive, bleach-haired punkboy still had an incredible sense of dance rhythm that jostled its way rudely to the front on songs like “Bombers” and “Something’s in the House.” Hey, at 24 songs, this CD is a fucking steal, plus you can play it to all your pop-punk pallies and turn your nose up at them when they ask you who it is.

Dance is an altogether different and more difficult kettle of fish. This is a portrait of Gary Numan before the fall. My chronology may be somewhat off, but this is after Numan had done his godlike “retirement” shows in front of adoring fans (ala David Bowie), reaching pinnacles that he would never reclaim. And he’s still in his early twenties! Things were not well in Numan land, however. The pressure of stardom was getting to him, his musical peers treated him as a joke, he’d just had his first hair transplant operation, breakups, drugs… What’s a boy genius to do? Record a dark dance-funk-electro masterpiece that still has yet to get its critical due? Why the hell not! Against my better judgment, I HAVE to say that Dance is THE Gary Numan album that everyone has to own. Most challenging, most paranoid, most songs featuring a violin player who wears mummy wrappings to hide his face, and so on. But seriously, “Crash,” “Slowcar to China,” and “She’s Got Claws” have yet to be equaled by Numan and his ilk. And believe me, Japan tried. Oh, did they try. Beggars’ reissue includes loads of extra goodies including the unparalleled “Stormtrooper in Drag,” and brilliant packaging with numerous photos of a silver-lipsticked Numan protectively clutching a fedora hat to his head. God, you’ve got to fucking love Gary…

Beggars Banquet, 580 Broadway, Suite 1004, New York, NY 10012; http://www.beggars.com


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