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TUBEWAY ARMY LP

1979 Aug Tubeway Army 
Title: Tubeway Army 
Artist: Tubeway Army 
Tracklisting:  01. Listen To The Sirens
02. My Shadow In Vain
03. The Life Machine
04. Friends
05. Something’s In The House
06. Everyday I Die
07. Steel And You
08. My Love Is A Liquid
10. Are You Real ?
11. The Dream Police
12. Jo The Waiter
13. Zero Bars (Mr. Smith)
How old: This Album is old!
Release Date: Aug 1979
Format: LP 
Record Label: Beggars Banquet
Catalogue No: BEGA 4
Price Guide: £6.00
Country:  UK
Additional info: Deleted This Vinyl Re-issue (November 1978) Entered Charts 25th August 1979, The highest Chart Position was at Number 14 and spent 10 weeks in the charts.
Highest Chart Position: 14
Full Artist List: Gary Numan (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards)
Paul Gardiner (Backing Vocals, Bass)
Jess Lidyard (Drums)

Produced by Gary Numan
Engineered & Mixed by Mike Kemp
Recorded at Spaceward
Photography by Mike Stone
Re-issue Cover Illustration by Garry Robson
Buy: Amazon
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ALBUM INFO

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.

REVIEW

This is pretty much where it all started for Gary Numan - a three-piece punk outfit attempting to build some kind of order into the discordant morass of six-string, three-chord excess that was apparently supposed to be the great white hope of the music industry. Those familiar with Gary's later work might be very slightly surprised by the content of this debut work - it's not dominated by synthesiser as you might expect, and the whole album sounds more like a robotic punk album than anything electro-pop.

Despite this, the album does lay down some of the foundations for Gary's more noted works. Firstly, the whole album has a very mechanical feel about it, thanks mainly to Paul Gardiner's rich, persistent bass and Jess Lidyard's (Numan's uncle) subtle, well-tempered drumming. With a strong backing group in place, Gary is thus able to develop his distinctive vocal style, a mutant crossbreed of David Bowie and the Daleks, a vocal stance so distincitive that it defied all attempts at indifference - you loved it or you loathed it. 

The groups controlled, uncomplicated nature seemed at the time to be making a statement, both against the unfocused fury of the punk movement and also the long-established prog-rock scene, by now getting so lost up it's own arse that it was rapidly losing the massive fanbase it'd painstakingly built up over the 70s. Songs like 'My Shadow In Vain' and opening track 'Listen To The Sirens' were punk in the respect that they made short, succint statements about the world around them. But somehow Numan's vision was more distorted and more disconnected than most. A critic once said it dealt with people 'Trapped in their own mind' - which sums it up better than any words of my own.

Some songs do make a definite statement. 'The Life Machine' is an anti-euthanasia piece, defying the obvious by adopting a relativley cheerful tone, whilst broadcasting his sentiments from the viewpoint of a terminally ill patient that just wants to die, but clearly can't summon up enough emotion to offer one final 'fuck you' - instead nonchantly muttering a resigned 'I know - You've got your principles' - which in it's own way has more impact than some kind of swansong obsenity. Interesting to see that out of all the 'right to die' songs that rock has thrown out over the years, this one stand alone in it's approach. 

There's some other tracks with a slightly riske feel to them. Take 'Everyday I Die', the central character being a lonely singleton with nothing better to do with his life than masturbate over dirty pictures (c'mon - what else can 'I unstick pages and read' mean). 'Jo The Waiter', meanwhile, is a strange acoustic number that hints towards trans/homosexuality. The use of an assexual name gets one wondering, though the lyrical content of the song is so nonsensically esoteric that it's true meaning is only clear if you read the album's liner notes.

There are some tracks that preserve the rough, guitar-driven sound of Gary's punk days. The high-speed babbling vox of 'Friends' is accompanied by some fiery riffs of the kind that wouldn't star again in his music for at least a couple of decades. The other notable 'rock' tracks include 'Are You Real?' and 'Steel And You', the latters fierce, dehumanising blast prefaced by some demented Moog experimentation, thus definining the two instrumental extremes of the album in one fell swoop.

It's probably true to say that many of the albums songs aren't particularly reliant on the electronics. Often they are used to 'flesh' out the songs rather than drive them, though in that respect they certainly do their job, reinforcing the icy tone of most the music. Some tracks (notably 'My Love Is Liquid') try to do something a little more creative with the primitive technologies available to them, and thus have become fan favourites, a treasured relic of Numan's embyonic synth-pop sound.

The reissued version of the album not only adds the aforementioned liner note, but also an audience recording of an old Roxy show in 1978. The sound quality isn't up to much, but it is surprisingly listenable nonetheless, offering a number of tracks from 'The Plan' (an old record company demo, later released by Beggar's Banquet), an early version of 'My Shadow In Vain' and a few songs not heard anywhere else. They also pull off a reasonable version of The Velvet Underground's 'White Light/White Heat'. It's not essential listening, but will be of great interest to those who need convincing of punk's connections with electro-pop.

It's a better album than some might imagine, this. It may essentially be a primitive electro-pop prototype, but the appeal lies in it's simplicity. Numan's lyrics have always been notoriously arty, often making vague, purposefully intelligent references to contraversial subject matters that'll go way over the heads of many casual listeners, and here is no different - there's always going to be at least one song where you'll miss the point and just go 'WHAT!?!?'. Not down-to-earth enough to be punk, but without the shimmering sheen of electro-pop, this album has failed to find it's place in music history, which is a pity, as it's surprisingly adept demonstration of how some jaded punks found a more dystopian route to stardom.

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