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Album Review

The classic self-titled debut by Gary Numan's Tubeway Army was finally reissued by Beggars Banquet, who have done a masterful job remastering the tracks and adding a live set from 1978 as a bonus. In the past, many have felt that Numan's debut disc didn't measure up to his later triumphs (1979's Replicas, 1980's Telekon, etc.), but listening to it today, you discover that it's the most underrated of all his early albums. Numan & the Tubeway Army were one of the first new wave/punk bands (along with Kraftwerk and Devo) to successfully fuse robotic synthesizers with rock & roll. Gary Numan's guitar riffing is more prominent here than on any other of his albums, which gives the tunes a splendid Ziggy Stardust feel at times. Kicking things off with several strong compositions — "Listen to the Sirens," "The Life Machine," and "Friends" — the album sags momentarily in the middle ("My Love Is Liquid"), but soon returns to its high standards with "Are You Real?" and "Jo the Waiter." The reissue of Tubeway Army wraps up with the 13-track Living Ornaments '78: Live at the Roxy set, which was previously released only as a bootleg. Although lo-fi, it's an audience recording containing songs that didn't make it to the debut. [Note: In addition to bonus tracks, all of the Gary Numan/Begggars Banquet re-releases contain classic photographs and informative liner notes by Numan biographer Steve Malins.]

Biography

Born: 08 March 1958 in Hammersmith, London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the founding fathers of synth pop, Gary Numan's influence extends far beyond his lone American hit, "Cars," which still stands as one of the defining new wave singles. That seminal track helped usher in the synth pop era on both sides of the Atlantic, especially his native U.K., where he was a genuine pop star and consistent hitmaker during the early '80s. Even after new wave had petered out, Numan's impact continued to make itself felt; his dark, paranoid vision, theatrically icy alien persona,...
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