The pioneering Gary Numan picks his 13 favourite albums of all time
Gary Numan is one of the columns on which the pantheon of pop music rests. The synth-pop master has had countless chart hits and still managed to keep to his music subversive, authentic, and always evolving. Here we’ve compiled his 13 favourite albums into an engaging playlist.
The pioneering synth-pop maestro has always been at the sharp-end of creative development in pop music. Topping the charts in 1979 with The Pleasure Principle Numan became a household name in Britain and was soon creating waves over the pond too.
With hits like ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ and ‘Cars’, Numan was soon establishing himself as a forward-thinking popstar. The songs were infectious and the expression was fresh, they would be the beginning of an eclectic and eccentric career. In this list, compiled with Julian Marszalek of The Quietus for their Baker’s Dozen feature, Numan opens up about the music which soundtracked that career.
Numan confesses to most of these selections being heavily influenced not strictly by their musical chops but by the personal impact they had on him. He even admits that he had to ask a lot of his friends and family to help him remember which albums he liked. A charming anecdote which opens up the personality behind his pop credentials.
The synth-pop star’s juxtaposing visions of pop sensibilities and avant-garde creativity is on show in the selection of his favourite albums. He selects some staples of glam rock that you might expect, T-Rex’sThe Slider, Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack, and Bowie’sAladdin Sane.
The records arriving at a time in Numan’s life when he was thirsty for the escapism of glam rock, “I’d have been 15 when Aladdin Sane came out and I was right in there. I was actually late getting into Bowie because I was a huge T-Rex fan,” he continues “It wasn’t until Bowie stopped the Ziggy Stardust thing that I then bought everything and realised my mistake.”
However, Numan also selects some more art-driven records too, from The Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die to Ultravox’s Systems Of Romance (apparently not a rival in Numan’s words), all the way to Depeche Mode’s brilliant Songs Of Faith And Devotion. The latter of which (and a few more to boot) was only discovered by Numan thanks to his wife.
Following a low in his career in 1993, the completion of his new album Machine and Soul which Numan describes as “the shittest album I’ve ever made!”, had seen the singer spiral into a poor state of mental health, “I thought I was finished”. But his wife offered some respite, “Songs Of Faith And Devotion came out – about the same time I met my wife, funnily enough – and again, it was her who introduced me to that album. She absolutely sorted me out musically, I got to say. She introduced me to things that I should have, should have been aware of.”
Numan then also finds room on his favourite albums list for some of the heavier moments of music. The singer selects Nine Inch Nails, The Sisters of Mercy, Marilyn Manson, and Rammstein adding weight to his playlist and authenticity as one of the darker souls in music.
The list of Gary Numan’s favourite albums of all time is a varied one then. From the fragrancy of synth-pop to the stadium-sized guitar riffs of Bowie and Queen and the eyeliner dripping tonnage of Rammstein et al – this list is an eclectic mix of music. As varied as it may be it is still one thing – entirely, singularly Gary Numan.