“Replicas” by Tubeway Army - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Arriving in April, 1979, just five months after their debut, was the second long player from the London trio fronted by Gary Numan (vocals, keyboards, guitars) with Paul Gardiner (bass guitar) and Jess Lidyard (drums). Traces of a punk past are largely erased; science fiction is the play, distinctly futuristic and as cold as ice. A bleak future is foretold, where evil machine men with machine minds rule. Our first glimpse of the troubling future ahead arrived via “Down In The Park”, the album's lead single in March. This is not a nice park. It's described in Wikipedia as “a futuristic park in which Machmen (androids with human skin) and machines rape and kill human beings to entertain spectators who, along with their numerically-named robotic "friends" ("Down in the Park, with a friend called Five"), view the carnage from a nearby club ("Zom Zoms").” Fans of J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick would recognise this apocalyptic alternative reality. Pop fans said no. The single failed to chart, although it became a cult-classic.

Opening the album was “Me! I Disconnect From You”, underlining a core theme of loneliness and isolation, fitting perfectly with the album's cover depicting Numan as one of these Machmen staring out of his window, willing to watch, but unwilling to be seen. Immediately following this, was the second single, which proved to be life-changing for the artist. “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”, a reference to Dick's “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, was released in May, and rose all the way to #1 in the UK chart. In TV performances, the group were dressed in black and distant, whilst Numan looked as if he'd just stepped out of the Starship Enterprise; the perfect visual accompaniment to his half-man-half-android vocal. Their image was unforgettable and the song had all the unconventional hooks necessary to capture everyone's imagination, although it's doubtful many were thinking “wow, Robotic sex 'friends' for hire”. Blimey. Best on side two are the post-punkish “You Are In My Vision” and the brooding title-track, awash in layers of synth. “So I turned on the crowd, And I screamed 'you and you', It could have been you”. What really went on there? The world of machmen, humans and robots sounds like a right nightmare. Let's hope it stays an enjoyable work of science fiction, eh?

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:23] 7.4.png Tubeway Army - Me! I Disconnect From You (Gary Webb) New Wave
A2 [05:25] 10.0.png Tubeway Army - Are ‘Friends’ Electric? (Gary Webb) New Wave
A3 [03:08] 6.7.png Tubeway Army - The Machman (Gary Webb) New Wave
A4 [04:00] 5.9.png Tubeway Army - Praying To The Aliens (Gary Webb) Electronica
A5 [04:24] 6.4.png Tubeway Army - Down In The Park (Gary Webb) Electronica
B1 [03:15] 6.7.png Tubeway Army - You Are In My Vision (Gary Webb) New Wave
B2 [05:01] 7.5.png Tubeway Army - Replicas (Gary Webb) New Wave
B3 [04:02] 5.8.png Tubeway Army - It Must Have Been Years (Gary Webb) New Wave
B4 [03:15] 5.4.png Tubeway Army - When The Machines Rock (Gary Webb) Electronica
B5 [06:31] 5.9.png Tubeway Army - I Nearly Married A Human (Gary Webb) Electronica

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