`Machine & Soul' is generally viewed as the creative nadir of Gary Numan's career, especially by the artist himself. Certainly his popularity had reached an all-time low by this point, with even die-hard fans like myself beginning to drift away.
Musically however, this album is nowhere as awful as some reviewers would have you believe and in my view is a slight improvement over the horror that was previous album `Outland', although perhaps not in terms of songwriting, more in terms of overall sound.
`Machine and Soul' was co-produced by guitarist Kipper (hmm), which had the effect of giving the music a more full and forceful sound, but at the expense of anything that actually sounded like Gary Numan. So we have a shiny, well-produced cyber-funk record that could be by anyone, it's so characterless.
The songs were still very weak too (although I can't help but nod along to the bouncy title track) with no highlights to speak of, and it's difficult to see which sector of the record-buying public this material was pitched at; certainly not at the fans.
Inevitably it sank without trace immediately, which was a probably a good thing because it helped prompt Numan to rethink his entire approach and paved the way for the massive creative resurgence he was to experience from this point forward.
So not quite his worst album (but pretty close) and not quite as bad as you've heard (but still pretty grim), it is nevertheless hard to see who could possibly want this album now. If you're a Numan fan, you'll already have at least one copy of `Machine & Soul'. But under all other circumstances, you really don't want this one...just let it lie.