The hatred of Gary Numan


Thumbing through my old copies of the NME – and by the way, I found out the NME itself has no copies of its old issues pre-1983 – I couldn’t help noticing that Gary Numan was not a performer held in the highest affection.  Even though his material has been sampled since and I think history has been kinder to him.  But the savaging he got at his career peak was ceaseless.

Nick Kent of the NME had resolved to destroy him by April 1981 – thirty years ago.  I’ve got the article in front of me and it’s cruelly hilarious.  “…Ground control is evidently calling your number as I write in the same harsh, hollow cadence you yourself have utilised for your sound…”     Ouch.

Numan was frequently accused of having snaffled David Bowie’s mantle while the great man took a break for various reasons before bouncing back with Let’s Dance.  Nick Kent said Numan must have been feeling the heat by 1980 when Steve Strange and John Foxx were taking the limelight but the return of the thin white duke himself meant the end.

“…David Jones from Beckenham (Bowie in case you didn’t know) had returned from his sojourns out in left-field to claim his throne, the very chair your bum has been keeping warm in his Nib’s absence for – how long is it now? Two years, at least, eh?”

Kent said that Steve Harley had kept Bowie’s seat warm in 1974, Numan had done so for a while and Steve Strange was performing that task as he wrote.  It was time, Kent felt, for Numan to go away.  Which as it goes, is pretty much what he did.

 

 

Best tunes in the first half of 1981


NME
The NME in 1981 – at the height of its influence

Hard to imagine a time when the New Musical Express was a style and music bible we read voraciously from cover to cover. And yet it was. What the NME told us was good….we generally believed.

NME journalists polled themselves in July 1981 to see what they thought were the best tunes so far that year.  Some of the songs I wouldn’t argue with while others seem a strange choice looking back.

1 – Me No Pop!     Coati Mundi

2 – We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thang     Heaven 17

3 – Being With You     Smokey Robinson

4 – Walking on Thin Ice     Yoko Ono

5 – Adventures on the Wheels of Steel     Grandmaster Flash

6 – Reward    Teardrop Explodes

7 – Chequered Love     Kim Wilde

8 – Pull Up to the Bumper     Grace Jones

9 – Birthday Party     Grandmaster Flash

10 – Pocket Calculator     Kraftwerk

Top album was Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places by Kid Creole and the Coconuts.   Germanic misery merchants DAF came fourth with Alles ist Gut.  Black Uhuru were deservedly in the chart and the Au Pairs.