Gary Numan/The Numa Years Boxset-Disc 1

The Numa Years Boxset is a comprehensive collection of releases issued on Numan’s own label Numa Records. The following is a review of this boxset, disc by disc. These are historic recordings and pivotal in the maturing process of Numan’s career.

Disc 1: Berserker [1984]

Berserker—-Numan spent a number of years with female back up singers and a more funk fueled delivery. This song is a prime example. The music seems less electronic and incorporates more ‘real’ instruments. The saving grace is the vocal of Gary…the cool dissonance and sense od disconnection in fully in place and adds a sharp contrast to the style of music. This is a great live piece that Numan occasionally plays today.

This Is New Love—-The sound of the song seems empty and full of tin. The emotion is cold and distant. The machines seem to be in hibernation. The back-up singers take most of the spotlight and at times the music is like Numan attempting to channel Duran Duran. When Gary does enter the fray, he holds firmly onto the vocal style that made him famous…the feeling is cold and with a slight whine that comes across remarkably well. All of the horns and beefed up female singers take from the magic that Numan had….not a favorite, but still a piece of history.

The Secret—-Again, full of synth produced soul, the song sounds like it was written to cash in on the 80’s new romantic movement that swept the world during this time. The chorus is a damn catchy affair that draws you in….the lyrical content a bit more dark ad Numan like. The failing of the song, is the music…it just sounds empty and uninspired. The vocal…classic.

My Dying Machine—-Hyper and generic, the synths are a cheap imitation of sound. In 1984, there were MANY bands making music far superior to this. I love Gary and his history….this type of music was a mistake and admittedly, Numan looks back on it and admits he was making music for all the wrong reasons at the time. The emotion and commitment to the music was gone….the song has some brilliant high points, namely the brilliant delivery of Numan when he is at his most empty.

Cold Warning—-The song begins with an odd Middle Eastern musical sound that is most awkward. The intro falls away into yet another uninspired synth line falls flat. The Middle Eastern tone returns and seems now almost Celtic in sound. Numan delivers a vocal that is so empty. disconnected and full of desperation that it will give your entire body goose bumps. When Numan delivers his trademark upper register, filled with emotion….you just fall into the darkness. Wonderful.

Pump It Up—-Again, sounding almost like a cheap Duran Duranimitation, the horns and female back-up singers do nothing for the song. The synths are empty and technologically behind the times. The song has a complete and total empty feel…not in a good way. Disappointing.

The God Film—-Much better… once the song seems fuller and more up to date. The mood is darker and more somber and the title suggests the beginnings of the Numan obsession….GOD. The song comes alive at the second bar, and although it includes some cheaper sounds, the vocal is the saviour of the song. The lyrical content is one that any fan will become more familiar with as later releases are issued. Numan has a way of delivering a line that keeps all of he darkness and sarcasm as the idea that generated it. This is great.

A Child With The Ghost—-Now…..this is the Numan we all believe in and hold close to us. The song is full of dark atmosphere and intense lyrics. The desperation of the voice is inspiring. The only negative is the recurrence of the annoying female vocals…they hadd nothing to the bleak and deep sense of the song. All in all, this is masterful!!!

The Hunter—-The song has a grand entrance, and as the synths die out, you are greeted again with some kind of funk inspired track that just does nothing for me. Numan delivers a saving vocal that is full of melody and urgency. The music falls a tad flat, although some of the synth sounds hearken back to classic Numan songs. A nice big chorus saves the song from obscurity.

Bonus Tracks:

Empty Bed, Empty Heart—-This has a full and dense sound to it that is courtesy of great synth driven, machine generated music. The vocal is slow and plodding and fits the Numan persona like an old glove. The atmosphere swirls around your head and pulls you into a darkness best not visited to often. Fantastic.

Here Am I—-Again, a much fuller sound and more powerful synth lines. The musical sound of the song is huge and almost as good as anything else on the original release. The vocal is freakin’ magnificent….this is the Gary I love. He does not, and never has, needed back-up singers or sounds to bolster his vocal. This is pure Numan…at his best. Wonderful!!!

She Cries—-The song immediately has more melody than one is accustomed to. The music is grand and swirling and has a comfortable feel. Numan sings in his upper register,,,this allows the feelings of pain and isolation to shine through to a masterful effect. I hate to use the word ‘classic’ too often, but this defines the word. The Gary I love!!!!

Rumour—-The opening strains are full of sounds that we would all become familiar with in the future…the dark machine made growls and atmosphere. The voice is almost sweet in delivery, as the synth pounds you forehead with gentle urgency. The genius is undeniable. The feel of the song is only interrupted by the annoying female vocals…so unneccessay and a distraction to the power of the song.

The Ship Comes Apart—-The release ends on a sour note, as Numan again reverts to the heavy female inspired, faux funk/jazz feel that he never fit into at all. The feel of the song is again full of cheap imitations….this is not ABC you know. Too bad, but thank heavens, this was a passing phase and the best for Numan was yet to come.

*** out of 5


One Response to “Gary Numan/The Numa Years Boxset-Disc 1”

  1. the ringbearer Says:

    Cant disagree with any of your comments about this album,on reflection i now regard this myself as a true classic among others such as (replicas pp,telekon,dance,i assasin,warriors).
    I personnely think gary lost his way completley after that (apart from a couple of good tracks on strange charm),but luckily since sacrifice he has just got better & better down the years, lets hope with all the new exposure of late (on tour with NIN ) that he has gained loads more fans & get back to somewhere close to the top like he was back in 79/80.

    all the best.

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