“The Pleasure Principle” by Gary Numan - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

After fronting two album with Tubeway Army, the 21-year-old delivered his first solo full length in September '79. Coming off the back of a number one album (“Replicas”) and single (“Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”) it was a bold move signalling the utmost confidence when Gary Numan dumped the group moniker in favour of his own individual stage name; his own personal Coup d'état! Tubeway Army founding member, Paul Gardiner (bass) stuck with him, but Uncle Jess on drums bowed out of the spotlight, replaced by the excellent Cedric Sharpley. The first release as Gary Numan was the “Cars” single in August '79, memorable for that super-robotic vocal (all over in the first 90 secs), that domineering minimoog bass and waves of mysterious, brooding synths that take over for the final two minutes. It was an unusual structure, but he was working instinctively: “This was the first time I had written a song with the intention of 'maybe it could be a hit single… I was in traffic in London once and had a problem with some people in front. They tried to beat me up and get me out of the car. I locked the doors and eventually drove up on the pavement and got away from them. It's kind of to do with that. It explains how you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world… When you're in it, your whole mentality is different… It's like your own little personal empire with four wheels on it.” And so Gary Numan rose to #1 in the UK pop charts for the second time in 1979. He had a world famous hit on his hands, with an image to go with it; this guy made pop stardom seem easy!

His amazing run of success continued with the resulting full-length, “The Pleasure Principle”, again carrying on from where Tubeway Army had left off, at the very summit of the UK Album charts. The album's second (and final) single, “Complex”, was released in time for Christmas, and gave him a surprise #6 hit, given the moody nature of the slow-to-mid-tempo piece, gracefully augmented with some very nice viola from Chris Payne, the versatile keys man proving to be an asset. Side one goes from strength to strength with “Films” and “M.E.”, all apocolyptic, lonely and, actually, very lovely, with touches galore, both plucked and pushed. Flipping over, the aforementioned heavy moog bass is to the fore on the trio of “Observer”, “Conversation” and “Cars”, the former bordering on the facsimile of the famous single. We'll let him off though, eh? It's been a very busy year. He's come a long way in a very short period. Exciting times.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:18] 5.7.png Gary Numan - Airlane (Gary Webb) Electronica
A2 [03:32] 5.6.png Gary Numan - Metal (Gary Webb) Electronica
A3 [03:12] 6.5.png Gary Numan - Complex (Gary Webb) Electronica
A4 [04:09] 6.9.png Gary Numan - Films (Gary Webb) Electronica
A5 [05:37] 7.1.png Gary Numan - M.E. (Gary Webb) Electronica
B1 [02:51] 5.7.png Gary Numan - Tracks (Gary Webb) New Wave
B2 [02:53] 7.4.png Gary Numan - Observer (Gary Webb) New Wave
B3 [07:36] 6.4.png Gary Numan - Conversation (Gary Webb) New Wave
B4 [03:58] 9.4.png Gary Numan - Cars (Gary Webb) New Wave
B5 [04:01] 5.7.png Gary Numan - Engineers (Gary Webb) Electronica

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