Music Reviews

The Church of Gary Numan

A Dark Celebration: A Tribute by Jim Collins

People do lots of bad things in the name of religion. They murder doctors. They start wars. They stage Spanish Inquisitions. And sometimes, sometimes they record really crappy tribute albums. Now I don’t wanna piss on anyone’s pure love and idolatry for something or someone, especially not Gary Numan, of all people. Anyone who’s read any of my reviews knows that I’m the biggest Gary Numan booster at Ink 19 EVER. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not a discerning Gary Numan fan. For instance, I know that The Fury sucks. I also know that Exile sounds like it uses the same drum beat on EVERY single track. Can you tell I’m stalling for time? For ONCE, I don’t want to critically savage a record; the therapy must be working. Jim. Can I call you Jim? Jim, I think it’s a really sweet gesture, interpreting all of your favorite Gary Numan songs and releasing it as kind of a platonic love letter. And your recasting of “Love is Like Clocklaw” as delicate dreampop is actually kinda nice. I understand where you are coming from. But, Jim, the record just isn’t that good. In fact, it kind of sucks. What’s with all the goth-ish photos of tombstones on the cover? Numan’s music (at least the songs you presented in YOUR tribute) is not about graves and dark grandeur, it’s all about a cold and metallic vision of the future where we dream of wires, and duck in and out of dark corners, Machmen close on our heels. The music and vocals lack the dramatic tension and paranoiac minimalism that made these songs so essential in the first place. “But these are my interpretations,” you say. Well, sir, your interpretations are hamfisted and clumsy. You soak nearly every song in crappy sub-metal guitars, your choice of synth and drum machine settings are pedestrian, and your vocal performances are uninspired and boring. I actually experienced palpable dread during “Down in the Park,” I was so goddamn stressed out about what blunder Collins was going to pull next. And please, save the acoustic performances of Numan songs (“Dominion Day”) for local coffeehouse open-mic nights. Would you believe AOR Numan-lite? A+ for intentions, D- for having to listen to it more than once.

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