Ahem. Anyway. For those of you who don't care - most of you, I expect - I'm about to listen to the Gary Numan, Associates and John Foxx albums and say what I think of each of the tracks. And since none of you know who the heck any of these people are, or have ever heard any of the songs (this with the possible exception of asrana, who will have heard them but not remembered them), I'm guessing this won't be particularly riveting. So I'm not asking anyone to read it, I just want it down here. (Apologies for typos.)
Gary Numan : Telekon
It's got such a dramatic beginning that I'm surprised it wasn't a bigger hit; the reason for that is probably the singularly obscure lyrics ("My mirror tarnished with 'no-help'...This wreckage I call me would like to frame your voice") and the wailing - it turns out this is in fact the Japanese for "I leave you", a reference to Gary's premature statements of leaving showbiz forever.
The Aircrash Bureau
Somewhat of an unfortunate title for the moment, but since this was released in 1980, one can hardly blame Gary. This begins with some distinctly Japan-influenced bass work which very much suits Gary's voice, as he went on to prove on the following album "Dance" (which this track could have slotted comfortably into). By Japan, of course, I mean the group and not the country - Numan was a fan and borrowed Mick Karn from the group for "Dance", but this seems to be all his own work. It's impressive and extremely melodic. I like this very much.
Even though this is the title track, it's hardly one of Gary's strongest songs. With some piano accompaniment reminiscent of the scariest kind of horror films, this is extremely dark, discordant and totally incomprehensible ("You end on real one." Excuse me?). It does feature one of my favourite ever lyrics though : "My dog runs AWOL, I blame you all". Sounds like Gary's lost his mind as well as his dog, to be perfectly honest.
Remind Me To Smile
A song that reminds *me* why I love Gary Numan's voice so much - it's not often in pop music you get a cockney robot singing at you. This is fabulous, a song of epic sonic proportions with excellent use of whatever that synth is that he puts to such good use on "We Are Glass". Not sure why he felt he needed the two-way-conversation in the middle of the song, but it doesn't detract too much. This is on the live album I bought recently, and I can only imagine with tears in my eyes what it must have been like live.
Sleep By Windows
Oh, my god, what a beautiful sound he's used on the beginning of this - it sounds like the synthesiser is crying. This is Gary Numan at his melodramatic best -
"But I don't love you
No I don't love you
Do you dream?
I can forsee this as one that I'll be playing on the piano in a couple of weeks. Imagine if you can a cross between "Down In The Park" and "She's Got Claws" and you're about halfway there. Wonderful. Incredible.
We Are Glass
One of my personal favourites of the songs Numan actually released, now that I can actually read the lyrics, it...ah...makes less sense than it used to. But it is still one of the best, about which I really have nothing much to say. It's catchy. It's good. Whatever.
I'm An Agent
Ouch! I had ears, you know...*had*...before Gary tried to sing too high and destroyed them for life. I don't know what he's an agent *for*, but I don't think he's doing them any favours shrieking like this. I have certainly heard worse, even from Mr. Numan, and a couple of the instrumental bits are even good (some Egyptian influences in there, followed up on "Dance"), but overall I think this should have been consigned to the "rare and unreleased" basket. Sorry.
I Dream Of Wires
It begins rather like an Erasure song or something similar; the only way I can describe it is to ask you to think of a synthesised wobbleboard. I was intrigued by the title as to what this song might be like...the answer seems to be 'subdued and surreal'. But no! Hark! The song has acquired a beat and a bass synth. Ah, well - I was sort of enjoying the quietness. Gary's singing is more than usually out-of-tune here, but given the robotic nature of both the melody(??) and the lyrics ("We drove to work by proxy/I plugged my wife in just for show") it doesn't matter very much.
The song is...odd. Not stunning, certainly not bad, just very, very weird, going off in the direction you least expect it to *when* you least expect it to. I think I'm probably quite impressed.
Remember I Was Vapour
Well, the lyric sheet for this reads like the 'let's all sing along' board at a Wombles gig, and the song itself seems to be quietly searching for its own point. "Remember I am human," Gary groans, as if in veiled apology for this song. "Remember I could end all this," he moans. Do, Gary. Please.
Please Push No More
I'm not sure what he means by the title - believe me, the lyrics don't clear it up - but the song's bearable enough, quiet piano and barely-there synth combining to make this sound like TV backing music or something similar. The instrumental parts made me smile - he has a very interesting noise on there, vaguely reminiscent of a pleading seal cub. Very sweet.
The Joy Circuit
Gary Numan does violin! I love it when he does that - not that he actually plays it or anything, but the songs he writes using violins are so great (see "Complex" from 'The Pleasure Principle' for proof) that it wouldn't matter if it were Nigel Kennedy playing it. The song's exciting and, as the title suggests, joyful, albeit in a very Gary Numanly depressive way. The only thing I'd wish for this song is that he'd shortened the slow instrumental breaks, because they make the song feel oddly disjointed. This is very, very, very good and I am very, very, very happy.
I Die : You Die
Since this was a single, I've heard it before, but it always makes me grin a lot and dance around filled with Numanoid glee. It's fantastic - from the first line "This is not love, this is not even worth a point of view" to the twinkly synths to the "We Are Glass"-like sonic enormity of the chorus to Gary's desperate-sounding vocals to the absolutely cracking synth backing to the Eno-esque ending, this is just one to *love*.
A Game Called Echo
The lyrics are some of Gary's weirdest - I'm sure you'll appreciate what an achievement that is - and this song just doesn't seem to fit together quite right, as if someone'd been assembling it with instructions in Swedish. The synthesiser interludes are classic Numan, but the verses are cheese to their chalk and more like the jerky vocals of his later work than anything else. This wasn't, of course, recorded to be included on the album (we're into extra tracks now) but it was at least recorded at the same time. Odd.
One of Gary's comparatively rare instrumentals - there really aren't as many as you'd expect - this is thoughtful and rather beautiful, even if it does appear to have Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata as its grounding.
Down In The Park (Piano Version)
Well...I probably wouldn't have recognised it. Richard Clayderman does Gary Numan. Actually, that's not being fair to this; he's woven incredibly beautiful harmonies around the original melody and this is fascinating to listen to if you've ever heard the original. We are obviously - and yes, I really do mean this - dealing with a complete genius. Quite brilliant.
Trois Gymnopedies (First Movement)
Gary, this was possibly your most bizarre concept ever. Yes - Gary Numan and his army of synthesisers take on classical composer Erik Satie, and I'm genuinely not sure who wins. It's not bad; it's probably more interesting than the original, which I like very much; it's very strange in*deed*. I've never been sure what to make of this and I'm still left in the dark. I'm not sure Satie would have approved; I'm not sure I do, either.
Well, that was Gary Numan. Onward, now, to John Foxx.