Gary Numan - Premier Hits: The Best of Gary Numan

by Jim Harris Rating:7 Release Date:2001-01-01

Like probably many listeners, I lost track of Gary Numan shortly after ‘Cars’. And that catchy, giddy song was a little too stiff and robotic to have much of an impact on me. It still doesn’t impress me much but this latest collection of tracks by the dark, sinister looking and singing Mr Numan reveal there is a little more to him then electronica generated by his guitar foot-pedals and squeezed through synthesizers as odd, repetitive space music.

I got back into this 80s icon around 2003 or so, when I heard an industrial remix of his songs.  This was intriguing but I then once again lost track of him. And therein is probably the reason this collection is more a curio/retread than an actual definitive collection.

The opening tracks (And I click through ‘Cars’ every time) like ‘I Die, You Die’ and ‘Are Friends Electric’ show a certain pop sensibility in his 80s electronica but really, he comes across with that same stiff wavering synth sound on too many tracks of this lengthy collection.  Later on in his career, as this album illustrates,  he did attempt to be  more industrial with grinding guitars and bass-heavy progressions, but  still his icy spookiness that is cited as his main draw just doesn’t escape that 80s Gary Numan sound.  And even some of the edgier titled tracks like ‘White Boys and Heroes’ and ‘Stormtrooper in Drag’ don’t resonate with enough musical depth to match the lyrical content.

That said, if you are a Gary Numan fan and have followed him through the years since his debut in 1979, this is a solid compilation representative of his career.  If you are new to the Gary Numan sound you might be better served trying out his post-2003 releases, where his veering into more industrial music is much more compelling.

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