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’.
Music is such a personal choice and I'm no critic. Not surprisingly, I love some of the tracks on here and can take or leave the others. There are too many versions of 'Are Friends Electric' for me. I like the interpretations of of 'Stormtrooper in Drag' and 'Down in the Park'. If you can find it for around a fiver its worth it.
I'm my opinion Gary Numan wrote half a dozen amazing tracks along with several albums of self-indulgent dross. I had never bought any of his albums but had always been a fan of tracks like, 'we are glass' 'are friends electric?' and of course 'cars' (Maybe half a dozen was being a bit generous!). Seeing this CD which included some of my long time favourites such as Republica, Moloko, Jesus Jones, EMF, PWEI, Damon Albarn, Dubstar, the Orb and Saint Etienne I bought it straight away and was not disappointed. There are a few dud tracks but some good surprises too from bands I had never heard of such as Posh and An Pierle and Chris Holmes. After a few weeks of listening to this CD I went out and bought a few Numan compilations and was very disappointed with the originals. Basically, the strength of this CD lies in how these bands have taken these songs and made them their own. Saint Etienne have added a melody line which prevents it from become a dirge like the original and transforms it into a high powered 'disco' opener. Dubstar turn one of Numan's more stripped back numbers into a dreamy track which wouldn't sound out of place on a Dubstar album. The three diferent versions of 'Are friends electric' each offer something new and are each worthy of mention, including Republica's which features Mr Numan on backing vocals. Posh, who were unknown to me, take Numans awful attempt at Jazz Funk, 'She's got Claws' and replace the Brass with Keyboard sounds that the Tubeway Army would have been very proud of, that coupled with Siouxsie Sioux type vocals, is a very good combination. Keneckie's pop-punk rendition of 'I'm an Agent' is a gem along with EMF's 'We are Glass'. However there are a few turkeys mainly the attempts at the cold industrial sound and the awful version of 'Cars'. All in all a very enjoyable double album. No doubt Numanoids hate this album, but if like me you have fond memories of watching Numan on 'Top of the Pops' but never took him that seriously then buy this CD.!