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Customer reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6 out of 5 stars

on 16 December 2016
This album has quite a reputation and it does not help that even Numan himself openly calls it "s***". Call me a die hard fan or whatever, but this is far from being as bad as everyone says it is. Once you forget you're listening to an album made by Gary Numan, it's overall an album with very catchy songs.

Sure, some of the lyrics may sound uninspired, but then again, Numan felt completely lost at the time so it was almost a miracle he actually managed to produce some material back then. "The Skin Game" stands out from the rest of the album because of its weird mix of genres, yet it's one of my favourite songs. Its lyrics also express the way Numan felt about the music industry back then, so it's full of disgust and despair. "Machine and Soul", "Generator", "Poison", "Cry" are very catchy as well. "I wonder" is a beautiful song which for some reason reminds me of something the Tears for Fears could have come up with (just my opinion though). "Love Isolation" is also a very beautiful ballad.

To me the real problem with this album is the track "Emotion" which doesn't really work for me. Perhaps the version Numan initially had in mind was different, regardless it just does not appeal to my ears. There are two other problems as well which can be easily explained by the fact Numan didn't write them. Yes, I am referring to the two Prince covers: "U Got the Look" and "1999" (the latter is only available as a bonus track, though). Numan confessed he never really liked doing covers, which might explain why these two don't really work either and why he basically never did any cover in the first place.

As for the bonus tracks, some of them are really good. "Cry Baby" - which is essentially an earlier version of "Cry" - is really good if not superior to the final version. "Wonder Eye" is also an earlier version of "I Wonder" except this one is a bit calmer. "Hanoi", "Dark Mountains" and "The Haunting" are essentially atmospheric tracks that resembles the ones that were on "Outland" while being very close to the atmosphere Sacrifice delivered, two years later. Finally, on some versions you'll get "In a Glasshouse" which is a very haunting track with one of the best use of female backing singers Numan has ever made.

The album itself is not bad really, if you keep an open mind. It has a very heavy '90s vibe and it has some of the weirdest mix of genres you'll ever hear, but it's a nice album full of catchy music. Plus, partly thanks to this album, Numan finally got back to making music for the sake of making music.

Give it a chance.
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VINE VOICEon 27 August 2004
Fairly well recognised as the watershed where Gary hit the bottom of the barrel before making a big change in his career direction.
I actually think there are some decent tracks on here. 'Skin Game' is OK, as is 'I Wonder'. Where things really go wrong is the whole experiment with the funky sound. Just doesn't work. Earlier albums from the mid 80's had been much more successful in matching up the earlier dark keyboards with a bit of funk. In this record it's just overkill.
The Prince covers are very funny. I don't actually think they're that bad. Take them as they are, as throw away fillers and the extreme rarity that they are in that Numan rarely covers anything, then they are worth hearing. Not the first Numan album you should buy from his middle period but not quite the total write off some would have you believe.
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on 5 May 2017
Ok it's his worst albumn but the song machine and soul is great single generator is good as well the prince covers are ok it's just not as good as his other albumns but is ok it's worth having to complete your numan collection
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on 21 July 2003
Although 'Machine + Soul' is definitely the biggest load of guff that Gary Numan has ever put out [although 'Human' and some of the Sharpe & Numan stuff are definitely up there], it may also turn out to be the most important album of his career. It was 1992 and Numan was thousands upon thousands in debt, he was so far out of the public eye he might as well have been invisible, his personal life was deteriorating rapidly and then, just when he really needed a killer release, he suffers an almighty bout of writer's block. Unable to take the album in any particular direction, he turned to his then guitarist Kipper who basically co-produced the thing and from then on it was doomed.

While some of Numan's previous albums, such as 'Metal Rhythm', contained elements of Janet Jackson and Prince (believe it or not!) it still had that touch of Numan's personality firmly stamped upon it, and this is where 'Machine + Soul' (and its predecessor 'Outland') really falls down; it is an album devoid of anything pertaining to Gary Numan. When the opening track has a chorus of 'so get up, get up and dance' you really know you're in amongst it. The title track, 'Cry', 'Generator' and 'Emotion' are trying so hard to be commercial, danceable electro-pop it's unreal. It's hard to see where Numan thought this stuff would fit into the music scene of the time, seeing as we were in the throes of Rave and the Madchester scene. Perhaps this has been Numan's problem for some time; he hasn't really fit into the musical landscape since '79/'80. The dreadful cover of Prince's 'U Got The Look' came from the 'Outland' days and shows just how far Numan was prepared to sell his soul to pay off his debts (although I don't blame him as such) and also how serious his lack of creativity really was.

Of the original nine tracks there are only two that could even be considered as anywhere near good quality Numan material. One of the album's three singles 'The Skin Game' is probably the best song on the album ('Emotion' and 'Machine + Soul' being the other two singles). Even this was spoiled for me by having a keyboard line that reminded me of the woeful 'Human Nature' by Gary Clail's On-U Sound System, a shame seeing as the song had a great chorus and is the 'most Numan' track on offer. The only other decent track is the ballad 'I Wonder', but - more nitpicking - this is superseded by the demo version, 'Wonder Eye', which is included as one of the extra tracks. Speaking of which, the extras are mostly instrumentals and are all pretty decent, though these tracks show Numan's annoying tendency to make intrumentals based on noise and effects rather than on melody. Plus, there's the demo version of 'Cry', known as 'Cry Baby', which lo and behold, is a lot better than the album version.

'Machine + Soul' deservedly bombed, and Gary Numan woke up to the fact that his current output was simply not good enough. Since then he's got himself back on track with 'Sacrifice', 'Exile' and particularly with 'Pure'. Now 'Machine + Soul' just seems like a bad dream. If you hadn't guessed already - AVOID!!
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on 29 September 2003
If you ask Gary Numan about this album today, he cringes. And rightly so, it' very poor. Recorded at what he himself acknowledges was his personal and creative low point, it's not a good album by any calculation. Large parts of it were written by his collaborator, (called Kipper, please..)and it shows; there's hardly any similarity to anything else he's ever recorded.
There is one truly appalling moment on the album - U Got The Look. Arguably a title contender for worst cover of all time. There are a few glimmers of hope, the title track is not bad Cry, is OK, but that's it.
Mercifully he faced the eye of the abyss and returned two years later creatively reborn, with Sacrifice. He hasn't looked back since.
Steer well clear.
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on 24 June 2009
When this album was first released, both Numan and his Fans were happy with the release. Shortly after his follow-up album, "Sacrifice"'94 a return to Synths and Guitar "Machine & Soul" was quickly forgotten, and slated by Numan, his fans quickly followed suit. Although the album doesn't have much of the trademark NUMAN sound on it, as a collection of Pop songs it stands up pretty well, and has more detailed production and recording values than any albums released after, which seem devoid of any production or mixing values. This album does suffer from Numan's general basic mixing but due to the period this album was written probably has some of his best written lyrics on "Poison" and "The Skin Game".
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on 14 February 2012
`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.
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VINE VOICEon 28 May 2006
Maybe not the best of all of Gary's white funk albums but the most entertaining and fun of them all in my humble opinion.Production is VERY low budget (just keyboards and guitar with female backsinging) the songs are more Prince influenced than ever before with a cover of You Got The Look I actually find better than the original.Not a weak track on the whole cd as oppossed to earlier efforts..

I HAD to knock a star off what would have been a 5 stars rating because of the sound.Muddy upper treble and Gary's voice sounding like it had been recorded through a brick wall and the midrange and female singing are unpleasantly strident .

A must for Numan completist and people who,like me,enjoy his white funk period.

BY OLDESTPUNKINARGENTINA (proud member of the AFEnet forum)
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on 21 November 2001
This is not Gary Numan's best album. I think the Prince cover songs have a lot to do with the negativity sorrounding the CD. "1999" and "You Got the Look" sound strange and out of place. But there are a few brilliant moments on this CD:
1. Skin Game - a great mechanical sounding wall of sound!
2. Machine and Soul - Another good song amid the uninspired tracks.
3. I Wonder - a great ballad with wonderful lyrics
4. Cry - another awesome ballad
5. Generator - The song has a definite dance clubfeel, but it actually works.
The rest... well, it's just there. I'm a huge fan of Gary's music (I don't hate any of it) but I'd have to rank this one just below middle of the road.
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on 2 January 2008
Only just slightly worse than his previous album Outland, Machine and Soul is more of the same funky electro-dance with a couple of slow, unremarkable ballad's thrown in. The best track is the opening title track, and it's downhill from there. The extended version is worth getting however, as the bonus instumental tracks, Hanoi, Dark Mountain and The Hauntings are superb, although very unrepresentative of the album itself. They are more like a precursor of the sort of atmosphere he conjured up on his next album, the excellent Sacrifice. Overall though, this is certainly my least favourite Gary Numan album.
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