Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.

Thursday

Principles Of Pleasure



The most popular of all the Gary Numan albums is undeniably 1979's The Pleasure Principle. The reasons are simple; there is not a single weak moment on the disc, it contains his worldwide No. 1 hit, "Cars," and new drummer Cedric Sharpley adds a whole new dimension with his powerful percussion work. The Pleasure Principle is also one of the first Gary Numan albums to feature true ensemble playing, especially heard within the airtight, killer groove of "Metal" (one of Numan's all-time best tracks). Starting things off with the atmospheric instrumental "Airlane," the quality of the songs gets stronger and stronger as the album progresses -- "Films," "M.E.," "Observer," "Conversation," the aforementioned "Cars," and the U.K. Top Ten hit "Complex" all show Numan in top form. If you had to own just one Gary Numan album, The Pleasure Principle would be it.




After the runaway success of Tubeway Army’s ‘Are Friends Electric?’, Gary Numan went the whole hog and created a purely electronic debut solo album, ditching any traces of his punk past and cementing his place as one of England’s newest genuine superstars (a status that proved to be short lived, in hindsight) with the commercial success of ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and its most memorable single, ‘Cars’ - both of which topped the contemporaneous UK album and single charts, respectively.
It’s almost unavoidable when reviewing this 1979 outing, not to start with ‘Cars’ - such is its iconic, classic status. It’s about as perfect and memorable as a pop song could be, with every detail being a polished and catchy affair. Consider the ‘moogy’ beat, the glorious wave of synth, the sprightly bridge, or perhaps simply, Numan’s waling-like-a-banshee vocals, singing a typically paranoid of tale of a protagonist who feels “safest of all” in the shelter of his automobile; it all combines to form about as thrilling and satisfying a 4 minute pop cocktail could ever hope to be.
The record also boasts another classic, in the robotic, electro-pop brilliance taking the form of track number five; ‘M.E.’. Featuring a tune that’s not quite as sublime as the propulsive glory of ‘Cars’, yet still insanely catchy and memorable; ‘M.E.’s status and recognisability was boosted when its melody was heavily sampled by Basement Jaxx for their nonsensical hit ‘Where’s Your Head At?’, years later. It’s driving, robotic force and nervous synth backing proved to be the perfect infectious backdrop to Numan’s familiar paranoid and alienated lyrics: “Now it’s over, but there’s no-one left to see / And there’s no-one left to die / There’s only me”.
‘The Pleasure Principle’ wouldn’t be as revered as it is, if all that was worthwhile was the aforementioned couple of hits, something which the rest of the track list fortunately solidifies. Numan was an early fan of the original Ultravox line-up, whose punks with synthesisers aesthetic, coupled with singer/songwriter John Foxx’s seeming fascination with machines and technology, rubbed off on an impressionable young Numan who would attend several of the group’s gigs around the London area. Tracks like the grinding, icy-cold ‘Metal’, and the, quite literally mechanical, ‘Engineers’, bares witness to this influence especially well, but the album has a predilection for robotic beats and frosty synth flitters in general.
The overall tone of the album, being as frozen, machine-like, and paranoid as it is, may wane on some listeners towards the end, and the fact that the album is a tad samey in places surely doesn’t help in its defence. Take ‘Tracks’ for example - it just doesn’t deviate enough from the areas explored on the first half of the album to seem a worthwhile excursion; and elsewhere a few other niggles are present, with 'Observer' sounding dangerously similar to 'Cars' at times, and 'Conversation' dragging its ‘blurgy’ melody on for too long. Still, they are only minor niggles, and for the most part, said tracks are still very enjoyable, just less so than more distinctive numbers like the nervous, blur of 'Airlane', or the menacingly grim 'Films'.
‘The Pleasure Principle’ is one of the most important and iconic electronic albums of its time, and fortunately, for all the right reasons. Arriving at the tail-end of 1979, the record helped blueprint the way for swathes of other young British groups who were bored of punk and were looking to experiment with new-fangled synthesisers as tools for making pop music. As it turned out, few did it better, with ‘Cars’ becoming a serious chart presence on both sides of the Atlantic, the album reaching number one in the UK, and Numan himself failing to scale the lofty heights he reached here, ever again, with a series of increasingly disappointing albums leading him down a steady slope to cult-status, rather than maintaining the sheer commercial superstardom he managed here. 37 years on, tracks like 'Cars', 'Metal' and 'M.E.' are still blisteringly good, and Numan’s icon has swelled immeasurably since his solo debut, with a mass of covers and remixes of his most memorable songs, and references of influence by the likes of artists such as Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. In short, ‘The Pleasure Principle’ is a fantastic listen, and nothing less than essential to fans of electronic music at any level, despite one or two minor niggles.


Ripped from a rather lush 1998 remastered and extended CD to that poor man’s excuse for actually owning the CD, MP3 @ 320kbps

Gary Numan; The Pleasure Principle

1.     Airline
2.     Metal
3.     Complex
4.     Films
5.     M.E.
6.     Tracks
7.     Observer
8.     Conversation
9.     Cars
10. Engineers
11. Random (Demo Outtake)
12. Oceans (Demo Outtake)
13. Asylum (B’side Of Cars)
14. Me! I Disconnect From You (Live) (B’side Of Complex 12”)
15. Bombers (Live) (B’side Of Complex 12”)
16. Remember I Was Vapour (Live)
17. On Broadway (Live)

Tracks 14-17 were recorded live on the Touring Principle tour at the Hammersmith Odeon, London on 28th September 1979 and did not feature in the original album.
 


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