Tubeway Army was Gary Numans first album, albeit as part of the band Tubeway Army. Originally released in 1978 Tubeway Army was recorded in just a few days at Spaceward, a demo studio in Cambridge, England. Full of Numans early explorations into electronic music Tubeway Army has now been digitally
remastered. This new version also includes tracks from the famous Tubeway Army bootleg 'Live At The
Roxy' when Tubeway Army was still a punk band.
Tubeway Army is the debut album by Gary Numan and his band Tubeway Army, released in 1978. Its initial limited-edition run of 5000 (known unofficially as the Blue Album due to its coloured vinyl and cover) sold out but did not chart. When reissued in mid-1979, following the success of the follow-up Replicas, the more commonly-known cover art featuring a stylised portrait of Numan was introduced. This release made number 14 in the UK album charts.
Although only the band's debut, Tubeway Army has been seen as a transitional record, linking the punk flavour of early singles "That's Too Bad" and "Bombers" with the electronic music and science fiction imagery of Replicas. The lead-in track, “Listen to the Sirens”, borrows its opening line from the Philip K. Dick novel Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, whilst "Steel and You" contains references to androids ("Just my steel friend and me / I stand brave by his side"). These and a number of other tracks feature primitive synthesizer effects, the legacy of Numan chancing upon a Minimoog in the recording studio one day.
Elsewhere the album’s lyrics generally inhabit a seedy world that has been compared to William Burroughs, an author whose influence Numan has acknowledged. "Friends" concerns male prostitution. "Every Day I Die" is about teenage masturbation. "Jo the Waiter" references drug addiction. "The Life Machine" is told from the perspective of a comatose man on life support who can only "watch from somewhere as the loved ones come and go".
Sonically the album ranges from hard rock with heavy metal overtones, such as "My Shadow in Vain", "Friends" and "Are You Real?", through the post-punk "Listen to the Sirens" and "The Dream Police", to the predominantly acoustic "Every Day I Die" and "Jo the Waiter". Influences cited for the album have included David Bowie (both 'Ziggy' and 'Berlin' eras), early Roxy Music and Brian Eno, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, and early Ultravox. No singles were released from the album.
A recent CD reissue of Tubeway Army includes a live concert, originally a bootleg called Live at the Roxy and now retitled Living Ornaments '78 - a retrospective reference to Numan's official live albums Living Ornamants '79, '80 and '81. It includes early versions of "My Shadow In Vain" and "Friends" ("Do Your Best") as well as a cover of The Velvets' "White Light/White Heat".
Gary Numan has regularly performed tracks from this album since early on in his career, including "My Shadow in Vain", "Something's in the House", "Every Day I Die" and "The Dream Police". Others that have made their way into his live repertoire in recent years include "Listen to the Sirens", "Friends" and "Jo the Waiter". On the Random Numan tribute album in 1997, Pop Will Eat Itself covered "Friends", The Orb "Jo the Waiter" and Dubstar "Every Day I Die". Terre Thaemlitz recorded a piano version of "Friends" on the Replicas Rubato Numan tribute album in 1999.