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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Gary Numan and Tubeway Army

Replicas

Review by Gary Hill

Tubeway Army was the band Gary Numan was with before he started his solo career. This was their second disc and has some amazing music on it. Sure there are some weak points, but really the strength of a few tracks by themselves make this worth having. It seems to cross the lines between electronica, prog rock, punk rock and rock and roll. There has never been a band with a sound exactly like this and you will find some incredible music on the disc. This reissue includes quite a few bonus tracks not on the original album – including a vocal version of a song that’s an instrumental on the main disc portion.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Me! I Disconnect From You
Beginning with a keyboard sound that feels as if the instrument is in pain (but in a good way) the rhythm section enters after a few measures and we’re off. This is a fast paced jam that’s hard edged and tasty. Numan’s vocals are suitably cold and detached – like some kind of alien machine. In many ways this feels like some of the more hard rocking Hawkwind music.
Are friends Electric?
I remember the first time I heard this song thinking that it was revolutionary and amazing. It still feels that way to me. The sound is in keeping with some of the other music Numan would do in his solo career and yet the lush keyboard dominated arrangement is almost symphonic in nature. There’s a certain machine-like beauty to this and at times it feels like progressive rock. Numan’s vocal line is sheer brilliance, too – understated and a bit awkward. The keyboards on the spoken section are wonderful and again Numan delivers it “just right.” We also get some killer crunch guitar at the close of this portion. 
The Machman
Here is something different. It’s got a lot more of a guitar oriented structure. This is sort of a rubbery, nearly punk rock sound. There are some keyboards here and there, but this is closer to the punk driven new wave music of the time than the lush electronic brilliance of the first two pieces.
Praying To The Aliens
There’s a stuttering sort of texture on this and the track is suitably alien in texture. It’s somewhere in between the style of the first couple cuts and the last one.  It’s definitely one of the most stripped down songs on the set.
Down In The Park
Although slower, this is closer to the two opening numbers than anything since. This one is also more like the music that Numan would be doing in his solo career. It’s got a proggy keyboard interlude. 
You Are In My Vision
This is a bass driven tune that’s more like “The Machman.” It’s not really a standout cut, but still reasonably solid. 
Replicas
Now this is more like it. There’s a real prog rock feeling to this. It’s got a bouncing rock groove and some prominent keyboards. I like this one a lot and would consider it to be a highlight of the disc. It’s one of the most successful at merging a hard rock sound with the lush electronica. There’s also some extremely tasty guitar work.
It Must Have Been Years
This is definitely a rock and roll song, heavily based on a cool guitar riff. The thing is, it’s much more successful than the other rockers on the disc. There’s a smoking guitar solo and this is like Gary Numan does Led Zeppelin.
When The Machines Rock
There’s a lot more light-hearted feeling to this instrumental. It’s bouncy and fun – and much like it must be when the machines do rock! I get a definite Kraftwerk vibe off of this.
I Nearly Married A Human
I hate it when that happens. Another instrumental, this is slower in pace and lush. The keyboard textures on this really would feel quite at home on some progressive rock CD.
Do You Need The Service?
Here’s another that’s a pretty successful merging of hard rock with the more electronica side of Numan. I like this one a lot. It seems to sit somewhere in between classic rock sounds and punky new wave.
The Crazies
Bouncy and fairly stripped down, this is actually quite cool – if a bit understated. 
Only A Downstat
There’s not a huge shift in terms of the style here, yet this song has a real groove to it. It’s another great one. There are some killer moments here with the guitar styled keyboard textures especially. 
We Have A Technical
Some of this is among the more proggy music on show here. Yet the rhythm section calls to mind “My Sharona” by the Knack. 
We Are So Fragile
Just keys and voice on parts of this, they power up to a more hard rocking approach on the rest. Here’s another that’s good, but not great.
I Nearly Married A Human
This is a different version of the track that showed up earlier. Here there are some vocals and the percussion feels more prominent.
 
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