Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gary Numan - Living Ornaments '79 and '80 (1981)

I will never fully understand how Gary Numan, with a string of dystopian, synth-driven art rock albums, became a certified pop megastar in the late '70s and the early '80s. I get that cocaine was very popular. And I get that using synthesizers to make pop music was still very cutting edge, making Numan somewhat of a musical visionary. Still... this shit is bizarre. His biggest hit was, as was the case with pretty much all of his early songs, an ode to emotional detachment and paranoia stemming from a semi-romantic obsession with technology, his live shows involved him careening around the stage in a futuristic wheelchair and singing about something called a "rape machine," and he resembled a Berlin trilogy-era Bowie minus the charisma and looks. Yet, for a couple of years, Gary Numan was an unstoppable commercial force.

Living Ornaments '79 and '80 compiles two live albums, and can be considered a live document of Numan's most artistically and commercially fruitful era. Recorded at two separate London concerts - the first, three days after the release of The Pleasure Principle; the second, less than two weeks after Telekon's release - Living Ornaments features prime cuts from the first four Numan/Tubeway Army full-lengths, impeccably performed and recorded. For the uninitiated, the studio albums are certainly more essential, but there's still a lot to love here.

Track listing:
1. Airlane
2. Cars
3. We Are So Fragile
4. Films
5. Something's in the House
6. My Shadow in Vain
7. Conversation
8. The Dream Police
9. Metal
1. This Wreckage
2. I Die: You Die
3. M.E.
4. Everyday I Die
5. Down in the Park
6. Remind Me to Smile
7. The Joy Circuit
8. Tracks
9. Are 'Friends' Electric?
10. We Are Glass

We are not lovers
We are not romantics
We are here to serve you
A different face but the words never change

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