TS: Gary Numan's Replicas Vs. The Pleasure Principle

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you have to go with the one you heard first, really. which in my case was Replicas. but other reasons for picking that one might be:
- the (underrated) contributions of Paul Gardiner on bass and Jess Lidyard on drums, beautifully recorded
- the whole concept/story thing behind all the songs, which the CD reissue with the unreleased tracks highlights beautifully
- lots of great air guitar (!) moments

zebedee (zebedee), Monday, 21 July 2003 11:22 (seventeen years ago) link

I have ALL of Numan's studio albums. Yes, that includes Outland and Mach...oh wait, no, I don't actually have that one. All except that one. Anyway, for those interested in post-Telekon Numan albums, you MUST get 'Dance' (1981) and 'I, Assassin' (1982). The latter is a near-perfect record thanks to fretless bassist Pino Palladino. And if you like that one then it's worth it to get 'Warriors' (1983), especially since it has now been reissued with bonus tracks. There really are great songs on that album as long as the production doesn't bother you too much. I have grown to love it. It may be somewhat "cheesy", but the sound is very organic, somewhat jazzy, and there's nothing else like it really. And listeners are treated to another fretless bass player, Pino Palladino's teacher! 'Berserker' (1984) is a good, but flawed album. A few duff tracks keep it from being a lot better. At the time it was considered his "return to form".

From then on Numan becomes a singles artist. The Fury (1985) would be a lot better if he didn't use that new keyboard he got. Pretty bad production in my opinion. Still, have the songs are good (especially the ballads). The more atospheric 'Strange Charm' (1986) has maybe two good tracks, neither of which are even memorable though. You can tell Numan had run out of ideas. From then on he wouldn't break the one-album-per-year tradition. 'Metal Rhythm' (1988) is cheesy white funk. It's okay if you're in the right mood, but it all begins to sound the same. I wouldn't bother. And definitely avoid 'Outland' (1991?) and 'Machine and Soul' (1992), which are almost totally worthless. It's like they got New Kids on the Block's backing band for 'Outland'. I don't even totally remember what 'M + Soul' sounds like anymore really, but I know it sucks. I think it even has two prince covers.

Of the Goth Years: 'Pure' (2000) is probably his best. I'm not a fan of the heavy guitars either, but the synths and his voice create a pretty spooky atmosphere. 'Exile' (1997) is sort of similar, but not as memorable really. And 'Sacrifice' (1994) sounds like his really old stuff on a few good tracks, but I really wish he'd lose the drum loops. The album could have benefitted from better production. Frankly, I'm not thrilled with where Numan is headed. Leave God and the Devil and whatever out of the material, tone it down a notch, and write some catchy songs. A few remixes on 'Hybrid' had the right idea. The fact that his upcoming album is titled 'Jagged Halo' isn't the best sign.

Patrick South (Patrick South), Monday, 21 July 2003 14:03 (seventeen years ago) link

And listeners are treated to another fretless bass player, Pino Palladino's teacher!

His teacher? That's Palladino himself on the album...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 21 July 2003 15:12 (seventeen years ago) link

it just happened to be lying around the studio and I thought, that looks cool.

haha also pretty much the starting point of his career

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Monday, 21 July 2003 15:30 (seventeen years ago) link

Wow Patrick! You are a true Numanite - you journeyed into the plastic white heart of his 80's Numa period, breaking for air only on the legendarily bad Machine and Soul. Few of us had the nerve. You, sir, are a Warrior and a Beserker.

colin s barrow (colin s barrow), Tuesday, 22 July 2003 21:56 (seventeen years ago) link

Ned--I am afraid not! Pino only plays on 'I, Assassin'. His career had been catapulted and was apparently busy when Numan wanted him back. So who better to ask than his teacher, Joe Hubbard? He had a very similar style of course.

Colin--If I had it to do all over again...wouldn't change a thing!

Here's a questions: What's with Numan's fascination with singing about "boys" (especially in the mid to later '80s)?!

Patrick South (Patrick South), Tuesday, 22 July 2003 22:42 (seventeen years ago) link

That's a very good question. I always wondered about that. Could it have been a homoerotic thing? It wasn't always other 'boys' either. Often he was, er, one of the boys. Eg: "Boys like me, we get used to lies like yours'. Like he was running with some kind of android gigolo pack?

colin s barrow (colin s barrow), Tuesday, 22 July 2003 22:50 (seventeen years ago) link

I have a couple of acquaintances who were involved in the 'I Assassin' sessions. They have some fine stories to tell of rock 'n' roll excess.

colin s barrow (colin s barrow), Tuesday, 22 July 2003 22:52 (seventeen years ago) link

there's a guy on the web who does an entire gay/transsexual reading to replicas and pleasure principle (as well as kraftwerk's menschmaschine). i'll have to find it and link to it.

Tad (llamasfur), Tuesday, 22 July 2003 23:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Boring answer I know, but I still like Replicas best

And what about "boys" as simpler 80s-centric Dick-style emblem of anemia, unreality, artificiality, alienation, the posteverything continuum, etc?

New thread: discuss Gary's footwear only on Dance gatefold (I have no theories).

brian nemtusak (sanlazaro), Tuesday, 22 July 2003 23:23 (seventeen years ago) link

replicas rubato

Tad (llamasfur), Tuesday, 22 July 2003 23:37 (seventeen years ago) link

Yay Terre Thaemlitz. I was actually on a gay/bi-themed Numan discussion list for a while -- I might have been the token straight guy, not sure.

Ned--I am afraid not! Pino only plays on 'I, Assassin'.

Ah, see, I read too quickly and I thought that's the album you were talking about!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 00:39 (seventeen years ago) link

"Are 'Friends' Electric" is quite possibly the best song ever written...

Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 01:33 (seventeen years ago) link

Esp. the weird souped-up "loud" version (I dunno where it's from, it's not the one on Replicas).

brian nemtusak (sanlazaro), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 02:02 (seventeen years ago) link

There are a couple of remixes and live versions that have officially seeped out over time...wonder which you've heard?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 02:14 (seventeen years ago) link

It's on a collection in this one jukebox (at the Black Beetle in Chicago) ... I think he's lookin' pretty good on the cover, no bad shoes anyhow ... (lotta help I am)

brian nemtusak (sanlazaro), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 02:19 (seventeen years ago) link


Tad (llamasfur), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 08:05 (seventeen years ago) link

Has anybody read Numan's autobiography, 'Praying to the Aliens'? It's an interesting read, though I wish he spent more time talking about the albums in detail and less about his love of flying planes (though there are some exciting stories). Anyway, he talks about how he was fascinated with the band Japan after they released 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' (which is sooo awesome of course...Ned, I know you'd agree--I like your Japan reviews and Japan-related reviews [Dali's Car, No-Man, etc.]). And he wanted to hang out with the band a lot or something, but for whatever reason they didn't like him or his image or whatever so they ditched him at some point, which really hurt his feelings (I forget the exact details here). And then of course Mick Karn showed up on 'Dance'. Must have been a nice guy! Anyway, I like what Japan's influence did to Numan's career. There really is nothing else like 'Dance', 'I, Assassin' or 'Warriors'. I only wish he was able to come up with so many ideasfor another 5 to 10 years. He would truly be a legend. All those albums from '85 and beyond really did taint his career. The only ones looked fondly upon by casual fans are the two in the thread title (and maybe Telekon, depending on how casual a fan we're talking about here). Okay, I don't really know where I'm going with this post. Just throwing things out there to spur Numan discussion.

Hey, who's dissing his footwear on the 'Dance' insert? He has similar white loafers (is that what you call them) that can be seen on the 'I, Assassin' cover. Do you think the macho choice of dress for 'Warriors' was him trying to prove his manliness? This was right after he started flying planes in order to prove to his dad that he was a man and not some makeup-wearer. Then again, he went right back with makeup on the 'Berserker' cover, so who knows.

That 'Replicas Rubato' album looks interesting. Thanks to whoever posted the link. I'm trying to download it. Pretty good selection of songs (like "Sister Surprise", "Dream of Siam", "Cry the Clock Said"). That site has an interesting essay too.

Right now I'm listening to Numan's four albums released between '80 and '83.

Patrick South (Patrick South), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 16:06 (seventeen years ago) link

"I Nearly Married A Human" tips it

Paul (scifisoul), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 16:21 (seventeen years ago) link

Numan is wearing a ton of makeup on the Warriors cover! And his ludicrous getup is certainly peculiar, but macho...?

Sean (Sean), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 17:51 (seventeen years ago) link

I'd say so. He has a club or something.

Patrick South (Patrick South), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 19:11 (seventeen years ago) link

Anyway, I like what Japan's influence did to Numan's career.

Agree %100. Japan is so so awesome.

brian nemtusak (sanlazaro), Wednesday, 23 July 2003 21:19 (seventeen years ago) link

seven years pass...

Saw Numan tonight playing all of The Pleasure Principle. Tremendously great - wish "Tracks" could have lasted for hours.

Bonus points to his band for keeping the finesse of the old stuff without being totally retro about it.

Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet (Elvis Telecom), Friday, 5 November 2010 12:01 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

unashamedly enjoy these, even the additional trenty piano part


Milton Parker, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 22:28 (eight years ago) link

it's so hard because even the bonus tracks to both are great - I love the live stretch of TPP where he does Bombers, Remember I Was Vapor, and the cover of On Broadway using the same beat the whole time, but some of those Replicas outtakes...

frogbs, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 22:30 (eight years ago) link

Sonically, TPP. Compositionally and lyrically, Replicas.

but he go's to a resturang and then die in a toilet (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 30 May 2012 22:31 (eight years ago) link

book sold for £850

it looks like something rupert the bear would wear (Algerian Goalkeeper), Thursday, 31 May 2012 21:09 (eight years ago) link

Replicas for sure but I think I might like that first Tubeway Army lp better than either of those. But...what makes Replicas really swing is the drumming. It really warms that shit up.

kwhitehead, Friday, 1 June 2012 00:21 (eight years ago) link

I'm more likely to reach for Replicas over The Pleasure Principle, and I'm more likely to reach for Telekon or Dance over both of these albums. However, I couldn't choose between all four of those albums, I think they're all pretty damn great and I've had an excellent time listening to all of them at some point or another.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Friday, 1 June 2012 13:25 (eight years ago) link

I think I might like that first Tubeway Army lp better than either of those.


Snowqueen's Icedragon (crüt), Friday, 1 June 2012 13:31 (eight years ago) link

I like Tubeway Army plenty, but there's no way on Earth I'd rank it higher than Replicas or The Pleasure Principle. Some great songs on it, though: 'Listen To The Sirens', 'My Shadow In Vain', 'Something's In The House', 'Everyday I Die' etc. Although I think Numan did better versions of some of these tracks with his Pleasure Principle-era band on the Living Ornaments '79 album.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Friday, 1 June 2012 13:34 (eight years ago) link

IMO the first album is on far with the next two - very different feel but it's like glam-techno rock and doesn't have any bad songs!

frogbs, Friday, 1 June 2012 13:39 (eight years ago) link

Yeah, it definitely does have a different feel to what came after, and that really isn't a bad thing at all. Don't get me wrong, I do have a lot of time for the album. I'd personally rank it after Replicas, The Pleasure Principle, Telekon, Dance and Sacrifice, with Pure and I, Assassin just behind it.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Friday, 1 June 2012 13:56 (eight years ago) link

Or: Dance > Telekon > Replicas > The Pleasure Principle > Sacrifice > Tubeway Army > Pure > I, Assassin > everything else.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Friday, 1 June 2012 13:58 (eight years ago) link

Dunno if it counts but I really dug the Hybrid album. A bit too far on the nu-metal goth thing but some of the remixes of the Pure tunes were great - I think he finally found the sound he was looking for.

Just finished listening to the Berserker-era live album "White Noise" - it's actually pretty good!

frogbs, Friday, 1 June 2012 14:34 (eight years ago) link

Ah, Berserker is such a frustrating album for me, because if Numan had spent more time on the songwriting than acquiring and pissing about with the then-latest technology and his record label it could have been fantastic. Sometimes I listen to Berserker and there are parts of a song which'll make me go: "fuck, that's a really great bit", but it'll be surrounded by bits that aren't so great. The best example I can give of this is the track 'The Secret', which must be one of the greatest, fist-pumping and (dare I say) uplifting choruses he's ever written. But everything else in the song completely sucks!

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Friday, 1 June 2012 16:15 (eight years ago) link

"A Child With The Ghost" is like that as well, great chorus but the verses really slump.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Friday, 1 June 2012 16:22 (eight years ago) link

From the show back in 2010. May have posted this elsewhere, but it's THAT GOOD


Elvis Telecom, Friday, 1 June 2012 21:22 (eight years ago) link

^my favorite Numan song

but he go's to a resturang and then die in a toilet (Jon Lewis), Friday, 1 June 2012 22:47 (eight years ago) link

six years pass...

what else sounds like this stuff (besides Bowie & Iggy albums from the same time period)?

Οὖτις, Thursday, 10 January 2019 00:05 (one year ago) link

Early Ultravox has the synth/rock hybrid sound too.

earlnash, Thursday, 10 January 2019 00:14 (one year ago) link

I assume you mean pre-Vienna

Οὖτις, Thursday, 10 January 2019 00:19 (one year ago) link


frogbs, Thursday, 10 January 2019 01:07 (one year ago) link

Systems of Romance and Vienna by Ultravox, the first two Visage albums, Magazine's Secondhand Daylight, Quiet Life and Gentlemen Take Polaroids by Japan, Empires and Dance and Sons and Fascination by Simple Minds.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:17 (one year ago) link

I guess the first two John Foxx solo albums fit too, even though Metamatic takes a slightly different approach to Numan 1979-1980, stuff like 'Underpass' fits. Non-album single 'Miles Away' definitely does.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:21 (one year ago) link

while we're on the topic did anyone else think the title of that song was "Underpants" for a long time

frogbs, Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:22 (one year ago) link

No, you were the only one :P

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:29 (one year ago) link

thx guys - some of this stuff (Japan, Ultravox "Vienna") I'm familiar with, will check out the rest

Οὖτις, Thursday, 10 January 2019 16:22 (one year ago) link

Metamatic is more to Telekon or Dance, as it is more full electronic sound. That said, Metamatic's sound holds up pretty well for a nearly a 30 year old synth pop record.

I just listened to the first two Ultravox records in a mix with early PIL, Wire, Cabaret Voltaire and others of that turn of the decade sound and their sound fit in very well.

earlnash, Friday, 11 January 2019 01:25 (one year ago) link

I don't really know of any other electronic rock music that feels like Pleasure Principle. Its sound to me is primarily defined by a patient loping which is heavy as fuck. Other records which have that feel are all by solidly guitar based artists. I don't know of anyone else using mostly synths to go to that place. It is in retrospect such an obvious idea. Synths of that time were heavy as living fuck if you only had the simplicity to let them be so.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Friday, 11 January 2019 14:54 (one year ago) link

digging Ultravox's "Quiet Men", that hits the spot

agree that Numan's setup in this era seems both unique and sort of "duh, why had no one thought of this before". Sorta like the Ramones.

Οὖτις, Friday, 11 January 2019 16:25 (one year ago) link

Yeah not a lot else has that Numan crunch... I want to say Gary Wright for some reason lol

brimstead, Friday, 11 January 2019 22:26 (one year ago) link

The impressive thing about The Pleasure Principle is that there's no guitar on it at all. In fact, it's probably the only guitar-less Numan album.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Friday, 11 January 2019 22:34 (one year ago) link

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