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Numan Moves Forward, Leaves Some Fans Behind
on 8 February 2012
On `Warriors' Gary Numan took the funk elements introduced on previous album `I Assassin' to the next level by throwing saxophone, slap-bass and breathy female backing vocals into the mix alongside his own trademark synths, which understandably alienated some of the faithful when it was first released in 1983.
But underneath the bells and whistles, it was business as usual really as Numan delivered yet another set of quirky, eccentric and memorable songs, which in this case worked especially well live. Showcased on the `comeback' tour that year, these songs were well-performed and exciting (although I was always suspicious of how John Webb had suddenly got so good on sax that he could effortlessly recreate Dick Morrissey's slippery solos note-for-note on stage!) and sat well with the earlier material.
Importantly, Numan did this kind of music really well. This is real, warm, organic funk, not the sequenced cyber-funk that he produced further down the line.
The album has many highlights, such as the morose but hypnotic title-track, the up-tempo jazz-funk of `This Prison Moon', the lazy groove of `Rythmn of The Evening' , the light and airy `The Iceman Comes', and the haunting machine-ballad `Love Is Like Clock Law'. There's also the bombastic `Sister Surprise', which despite the main riff sounding worryingly similar to Spandau Ballet's tuneless `Chant No.1', begins with one of Numan's most atmospheric intros and ends with a brilliant instrumental passage that I wish carried on for much longer.
Typically too, some of the best songs from the recording sessions were left off the original album and relegated to B-side status. Tellingly, these are the songs that feature the most noticeable contributions from guitarist Bill Nelson, who had been hired by Numan as co-producer and artistic foil but left the sessions after the pair failed to hit it off. No matter, they're all included here; `Poetry and Power' is one of my all-time faves, and both parts of `My Car Slides' are no less strong. For your money you also get alternate versions of `Sister Surprise' and `Warriors' plus a session outtake (more of a work-in-progress than a finished track) which I suspect is only really of interest to completists like me!
So, if you can get past the dodgy album cover (I recall taking a serious ribbing from my mates over the daft Mad Max image!) then I think you'll find `Warriors' a very pleasant surprise and well worth investigating. Recommended.