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The Pleasure Principle was Gary Numan’s commercial supernova. The album’s worldwide success exploded him into rock’s stratosphere, blinding the world with synth-pop science. This reissue, in a sense, is every bit as prescient as its original 1979 release. Here we have some of Numan’s best known and most influential techno- rock inventions– analog masterpieces that became blueprints for much of today’s digitally- wrought electronic music. Numan seemed to put an elegant Brit-pop spin on the gritty American synth-punk sound Martin Rev and Alan Vega helped innovate. Of course, Numan covers familiar lyrical territory: songs that speak of alienation, distrust of humanity, the frighteningly close relationship between man and machine, and general existential paranoia.

Proof of Numan’s odd genius is best captured on “Films.” Evident are his patented two-tiered keyboard textures: those thick, sinister, basso drones overlapped by a light, high- register Moog blanketing, as a sinuous electric viola thread winds its way through. Nimble bass lines groove along nicely, getting a kick from behind by some heavy- duty funk- inflected drumming. Carrying such a strong rhythmic undertow, songs like “Films,” “Airlane,” “Conversation” and “M.E.” fuse the driving force of rock and roll with a comfortable measure of disco danceability.

“Oceans” presages the more ambient, orchestral turn Numan took on 1980’s brilliant Telekon. On the instrumental “Asylum,” Numan’s nightmarish piano/ synth dissonance perfectly compliments the title. And yes, there’s the hugely popular and mildly ironic take on humanity’s fanatical dependence on mechanized transportation, “Cars.” This reissue also features live versions of “Me, I Disconnect From You,” “Bombers” and “Remember I Was Vapour.” Numan also performs a humorous reconstruction of “On Broadway,” recasting the classic song as a curious tongue- in- cheek abstraction.

Even by today’s standards, The Pleasure Principle can rightfully take its place along the outer limits of modern techno-rock. Gary Numan continues to be one of the few signs of truly intelligent life in that charlatan- filled universe now known as electronica.

-Michael Sandlin,

256kbps MP3


  1. gary numan, wall of voodoo, king bro’s==dude, this blog is T-O-P-S

  2. Funny that picture has Numan playing guitar when every fan knows this was his first album not to feature a single guitar note. He did bring back guitars on later albums though.

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