I mean, look at that cover, it’s a masterpiece of laziness. It goes beyond just half-hearted design into something absurd and beautiful. Even Beggars Banquet (the label who were shortly to bring us the font of eye candy that is 4AD) knew it. Within a year of the release of Tubeway Army’s eponymous 1978 debut (the singles from classic albums Replicas and The Pleasure Principle dominated TOTP in 1979), frontman Gary Numan would be the biggest pop star in the country, prompting a hasty reissue and a rethinking of that much-derided blue cover.
Yep. Nice work, guys.
It’s up there with the first Megadeth LP for facepalm.
In more recent years, Replicas and The Pleasure Principle have been issued in deluxe multi-CD remasters, accompanied by big sold-out tours that cemented Numan’s return to critical (and commercial) acceptance.
He probably won’t ever tour Tubeway Army, the fantastic original synth-pub rock incarnation of which kind of scanned like if Philip K. Dick had done for Dr Feelgood what Michael Moorcook did for Hawkwind. And I know what you’re thinking: speculative fiction-conceptual late Seventies pub rock. UH OH. I didn’t spend eight years rewiring my taste neurons to the caprices of this blog just so you guys could tell me to go and listen to Dr Feelgood! But it’s totally as good as Wire, and everyone loves them, right?
Numan’s (or ‘Valerian’ as he originally credited himself) lyrics rewrote the 1970s London punk scene into a paranoid Naked Lunch-meets-Neuromancer dystopia, populated by junkies, male prostitutes, and (yes!) lonely androids.
(STOP. Now read Terre Thaemlitz’ writing on Numan. CONTINUE.)
Everyday I Die from Tubeway Army is a very overly-earnest song about a subject close to the hearts of many young men, the lyrics of which have been known to raise eyebrows in polite company (“I unstick pages and read. I look at pictures of you. I smell the lust in my hand.”).
But very much a favourite of Gary’s. He reworked it for later live performances with big pop star synths.