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From The Crate: Tubeway Army – Replicas

Replicas, (originally released in June 1979), was the second Tubeway Army album and was the follow-up to the more punky eponymous debut the previous summer. When ‘Are “Friends” Electric?’ reached Number 1 for his band Tubeway Army in June 1979, it began an intense period of activity for Gary Numan. He was catapulted from cult concern to megastar almost overnight, though the single did take seven weeks to arrive at the summit. By the time the album appeared, it was credited to Gary Numan & Tubeway Army. The album begins as if Numan is gingerly dipping his toe into the waters of electronica, with first track ‘Me! I Disconnect From You’ starting off almost like a Young Marble Giants song until it gathers its own identity and confidence. However, when ‘Are “Friends” Electric?’ follows as track two, it is like a juggernaut arriving and still sounds absolutely extraordinary some 36 years on, with THAT riff and Numan’s most singular of singing voices. The single was an unexpectedly huge hit, remaining at the top for four weeks and certainly helping to catapult its parent album to Number 1 too. It has aged extremely well, losing none of its sinister power – a genuinely thrilling single and surely one of the best ever chart-toppers. In truth, ‘Are “Friends” Electric?’ sets a standard that is almost impossible to live up to over the course of Replicas, though Numan and band have a pretty good try nonetheless. The stately ‘Down In The Park’, which was the first single released from the album, is another highlight. Meanwhile, the intro of ‘You Are In My Vision’ is a very close cousin to L7‘s ‘Pretend We’re Dead’, as unlikely as that may sound (that song coming 15 years later!) The title track, meanwhile, makes beautiful use of those wonderful analog synth sounds that, while being castigated by some at the time for making the music cold and sterile, are ironically now employed to bring warmth to modern records. ‘It Must Have Been Years’ echoes back to the less sophisticated sound of the debut, while ‘When The Machines Rock’ sounds a little like something that Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark could have been working on when Numan beat them in the race for commercial success. ‘I Nearly Married A Human’ is a downbeat end to the album; a six-and-a-half minute instrumental track that does sound a little like it is making up the numbers.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.