Album #452 – The Pleasure Principle

Album #452

Gary Numan certainly invented a type of music and style that would become huge in the 1980’s. His brand of synth pop is largely mistaken as being released in the 80’s. The Pleasure Principle was released in 1979. It is Numan’s biggest solo album to date. In fact, it is his only hit album in North America. What separates Numan from his contemporaries is his trademark synth sounds, using the preset Vox Humana. Numan also uses real drums on this album, something that many synth pop acts would shy away from in the next decade. Violins are also heard on a few of the tracks, a surprise to me. Numan has a great way of combining instruments of the past with his synthesizer wizardry. It is really something that many shied away from in the 1980’s. To me, Numan is much more accessible than Kraftwerk and his contemporaries. His sound is more reminiscent of Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy. The album was influential. Cars became his only North American hit and inspired the look and sound of the early 80’s. Numan was one of the first New Wave stars. His song M.E. ended up being sampled in Basement Jaxx’ song Where’s Your Head At?, bringing his music to a new generation. Afrika Bambaatta and Nine Inch Nails have covered songs off this album. I’m sure Numan is one of Trent Reznor’s biggest influences. The Pleasure Principle will be an addition to my collection not only because of its influence, but because of its accessibility. Numan is making pop music for a new age and in some ways, he was ahead of his time. You could say Numan’s music is robotic but, to me it is so much more. There is depth and color in these songs and the addition of synthesizers brings them alive. Other highlights include: Airlane, Metal, Films, Observer, Conversation and Engineer. Overall, I give The Pleasure Principle, 5 out of 5.

Next: The Specials self-titled debut (the final album on the list from the 1970’s!!!)

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