Top positive review
on 1 June 2016
Having given up on pop music (including Mr Numan) in the late 1980s, I do not know most of the artists and bands who have taken part in this project, which hopefully has resulted in a more objective review. This double-CD tribute set of twenty-six cover versions of Gary Numan’s music was released in 1997. The shortest lasts three minutes; the longest, ten. There are three versions of ’Are Friends Electric?’ and two of ‘We Are So Fragile’. Alas some favourites – ‘Complex’, ‘Music for Chameleons’, ‘Slowcar to China’, ‘I, Assassin’ – are not covered.
The styles adopted on the tracks that are featured are truly multifarious: from dance (St Etienne & Chris Holmes), to rock (Gravity Kills, Peck Slip, Jesus Jones, Posh, Kenickie, Pop Will Eat Itself, & Windscale), to classical (An Pierle), to acoustic (Magnetic Fields), to rap (Underdog), to techno (Jimi Tenor), to soul (Moloko), to pop (Towering Inferno, Dubstar, & Republica) to jazz (Amanda ghost), to ska (BIS). Then there are those that are overtly Numanesque (Matt Sharp & Damon Albarn, EMF, Earl Brutus, Deadsy, and Dave Clarke). And finally there are those that I find difficult to define (Sukia, The Orb). Shame there is no opera aria version or no Schubertian lied!
Some tracks here improve on the original; some are worse; many merely ‘different’ – and this latter aspect is what often makes such cover CDs welcome: no slavish reproductions. Sometimes, indeed, one wonders at the fact that there is anything of the original to be found in its cover!
For me the best – and only five star tracks on this double-CD – are An Pierle’s solo piano version of ‘Are Friends Electric?’, and Dubstar’s pop rendition of ‘Everyday I Die’. Republica’s rock-pop version of ‘Are Friends Electric’ comes close to perfection and is a well-earned third in the ranking. The worst of the set is Underdog’s rap version of ‘Films’: awful, truly awful.
So you pays your money and you takes your choice, but there should be something of interest here for anyone. And for Numanoids it is, for sure, a ‘sine qua non’.