5 Very Important British Electronic Albums Up To 1989

5. Gary Numan – Replicas/Living Ornaments/The Pleasure Principle

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Here’s how it went (allegedly – I didn’t do History at school)

Top of The Pops Studio “bod”, sometime August 1979: OK, Gary, we remember what you were like when “Are Friends Electric” went to Number 1, but what we would REALLY like you to do now, is to, well, you know, PLAY THE GAME. PLEASE?? Smile a bit. SMII…III…LE!! That’s it, Gary ! Bit less make up, people! Well done, Gary! Errr…Gary?

Gary: No. F*ck off. I don’t do smiling. I do moody. And mean. And dangerous. That’s what the f*ck I do. Could be worse, I might not do stairs. Or soft lighting. Good luck in the future with those, by the way. What I’m ALSO going to do is have somebody playing the keyboards whose sole role is to hit ONE key on the piano to simulate a handclap. HE might do smiling. Go ask him. I don’t. So F*ck off.

And thus, Gary did Cars on Top Of The Pops. And it went to Number One. Britain fell in love. Vince Clarke decided to jack in his Accountancy course at college (I dunno, I’m not Wikipedia) and buy a keyboard (or three). Phil Oakey got a haircut. So did Martin Fry. And a nice suit.

Anyway, Gary! He’s Mean! Moody! Dangerous! He doesn’t smile! He went on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop! He didn’t even smile on that!

The music? Does it matter? Oh, alright then, listen to anything from him in this era and remember that British Electronica owes, well, most things to Gary Numan. (Just don’t tell Brian Eno).

Don’t listen to: Music for Chameleons. Expunge those three words from your memory. And certainly don’t watch the video.