Its hard to imagine Gary Numan's impact in 1979 (along with the Police, he was the biggest star to emerge from the punk and new wave explosion). Unfairly derided in some quarters as a mere Bowie clone, the critics missed the point completely, that a new type of pop star with an eye to future musical trends had emerged. Perhaps even more galling for the critics was that he sold millions of records, sold out concert tours instantly [ when you actually had to queue outside venues for tickets, not click a mouse!]. Here was a genuine pop phenomenon with a visionary bleakness, who was , albeit unintentionally, pushing forward thinking pop music into a new decade. Without Numan, there would have been very few musical openings,for OMD, The Human League, and their ilk..
The Pleasure Principal brilliantly capitalised on the success of Replicas, opting for a more synthetic approach than its predecessor, taking the themes of urban isolation, fame,and technology to new extremes. If Kraftwerk positively revelled in their vision of the future, here was an artist who held an entirely different point of view.The Pleasure Principal is full of great music [ Complex, M.E. and of course Cars], and without a single weak track stands as perhaps Gary Numans finest recorded output.
As with the excellent Replicas reissue there is a feast of demos,b' sides and oddities to make revisting The Pleasure Principal worthwhile. The demos have a welcome rough edge [Airlane for instance really rocks on the demo version],and give the overall impression that Numan's vision fo the album was fully formed prior to entering the studio to cut the album. To my ears the demos have a life of their own, and whilst lacking some studio gloss and trickery, are equal to their shinier counterparts. Perhaps the one disappointment on this disc is a lacklustre run through of Cars, but ,of course, this was soon to be improved in the final recording.
Overall another fantastic reissue from an artist who is yet to fully receive the recognition he deserves.