All-Time Albums:#71


GARY NUMAN The Pleasure Principle

Airlane 3:18
Metal 3:33
Complex 3:14 (UK single, #6)
Films 4:09
M.E. 5:37
Tracks 2:52
Observer 2:53
Conversation 7:38
Cars 3:53 (UK single, #1)
Engineers 4:00

Numan’s second chart-topping album of 1979, just months after Replicas, was the first under his own name without the Tubeway Army suffix. The change was purely cosmetic, just as years later Miami Sound Machine became Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine and then plain old Gloria Estefan.

Anyway, on the back of a mighty breakthrough hit (Are Friends Electric?), Replicas shot to #1 but provided no further singles (this was the post-punk era, after all). When the next Numan single, Cars, also shot to the top of the listings in September 1979, demand for Replicas’ follow-up was huge. The Pleasure Principle continued the move away from traditional rock instrumentation which characterised Replicas in comparison to its predecessor (Tubeway Army, 1978). Now everything was very synth-driven, a style which would reach its zenith on the next record (Telekon).

Ridiculously included in Classic Pop’s Top 100 albums of the 1980s (if it’s from 1979 that makes it ineligible, chaps), The Pleasure Principle is still one of the finest records of all-time.

In truth, there’s not really much to choose between it, Replicas and Telekon. Fine margins and all that. The Pleasure Principle just seems to capture the Numan phenomenon at its peak, the rougher edges of the Tubeway Arny’s sound has been refined, and the creative dead-ends of the future were yet to plague him. Cars is also simply one of the greatest singles ever, with a monstrous riff and vividly paranoid lyrics.

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