Artist: Gary Numan
Album: The Pleasure Principle (Deluxe Tour Edition) Release date: September 28, 2009
Label: Beggars Banquet Live Dates: The Pleasure Principle Tour 2009 Nov 17, Brighton Dome; 18 Southampton University; 19 Cardiff Sub 29; 20 Sheffield Corporation; 21 Manchester Academy; 23 Cork Pavillion; 24 Dublin Tripod; 25 Leeds Academy; 26 Edinburgh Picturehouse; 27 Glasgow ABC; 28 Sunderland The Campus; 29 Norwich UEA; 30 Wolverhampton Civic; Dec 1. Cambridge Junction; 2 Nottingham Rock City; 3 London Indigo
Gary Numan’s classic, influential album, The Pleasure Principle is being re-released as a double CD edition (featuring demos and B-sides on the bonus disc) 30 years after it debuted at Number 1 in the UK charts. The singer’s single from the album, ‘Cars’ also climbed to the top of the charts, an achievement he’s celebrating with a 16 date UK tour starting in mid November.
The Pleasure Principle was the point where Numan became a huge international solo star, reaching the Top 10 in the States with ‘Cars’ and Top 20 with the album. Given the conservative nature of the music scene in America at that time and the fact that the LP didn’t even feature any guitars, let alone conventional song structures (‘Cars’ doesn’t even have a chorus), this is one of those special moments in pop music when a new idea breaks through all the boundaries. The Pleasure Principle pioneered electronic pop music on a new scale, becoming a much bigger hit worldwide than Kraftwerk or anything from the Bowie/Eno ‘Berlin’ trilogy. And the fact that it was so different and had such a major impact in America (crystallised when Numan performed ‘Cars’ and ‘Praying To The Aliens’ in front of 40 million people on the Saturday Night Live Show) means that there’s a direct link from The Pleasure Principle to the new musical forms that were born in the USA over the next decade – namely hip hop, industrial and techno.
As the NME recently noted, ‘every hip-hop production titan ever ˆ notably Dr Dre ˆ has nicked the opening beats from the track ‘Films’. The likes of Timbaland and The Neptunes’ minimal pop ˆ comprised of just exquisitely produced drums and simplistic synthlines ˆ are heralded as been futuristic genius in the 21st century; The Pleasure Principle shows that Gary Numan was doing the same thing 30 years previously. His influence on hip-hop, while rarely recognised, is enormous. His influence on electronic music in general is unparalleled.’ When GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan’s covered ‘Films’ last year, he was actually taking hip hop back to its roots as the track features one of the original break breats (in fact it features on the hugely influential, Ultimate Breaks & Beats compilation series) . Former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren recalls his first encounter with hip hop in the early ’80s: ‘I remember hearing Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’ and looking at this madly volatile black crowd in the middle of the South Bronx ˆ my first visit to witness a party that I was invited to by Afrika Bambaataa. I, a naïve white honky, thought that it was in some apartment building, but it turned out to be this massive debris site and there in the middle of it was these guys telling their stories, freestyle, to Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’. My thoughts were interupted when waves parted in the crowd like the Red Sea and there, in a pool of light on the floor, came characters who started to spin and break dance. I’d never seen anything quite like it, I thought it was amazing.’
In industrial music both Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson have namechecked Numan as a significant influence, with the former currently performing the track ‘Metal’ on his tour. ‘After hearing ‘Cars’ I knew I wanted to make music with synthesizers,’ says Reznor. ‘The Pleasure Principle is fucking great because it’s so cold sounding.’ Meanwhile, techno pioneers ranging from Carl Craig to Juan Atkins were grabbed by this strange, futuristic music, creating a relationship between Numan and dance music that has spawned the likes of the Basement Jaxx’s ‘Where’s Your Head At’ (samples ‘M.E.’ from The Pleasure Principle) and the ‘Cars’-mutating ‘Koochy’ by Armand Van Helden. As the newly reformed Devo recently commented, The Pleasure Principle is, ‘so original and cool and ground breaking and in a way classic. Like, it still sounds great today . . . like nothing sounds like that today.’