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Baker's Dozen

Music For A Chameleon: Gary Numan's 13 Favourite Albums
Julian Marszalek , December 6th, 2012 07:46

Quietus hero Gary Numan tells Julian Marszalek about his 13 favourite albums and how they "kicked my arse"... plus the time Freddie Mercury sent a limo to buy him a Big Mac


Ultravox – Systems Of Romance
There was never a rivalry between us. Oh, not at all! That Systems Of Romance album was one of those pivotal albums for me. It's arguably one of the two or three most important albums of my life.

I got into electronic music quite by accident. I went into the studio to make a punk album and there was synth sitting in the corner and I got converted there and then. Because of that I tried to find as many other people that were making electronic music and learn what they were doing. I think at that point I only had three days in the studio with one synthesiser but I was passionate about it but I obviously didn't know anything about it.

I tried to find a few things and then I found the Systems Of Romance album. I thought the band name was a great name and the album had a great title and when I played it I loved it. There's a song there called 'Slow Motion' which to this day is still one of my favourite songs ever – I really, really love it – and they became the standard for me which I was trying to reach. They were doing a similar thing in that they had a conventional line-up but electronics were the main part of it which is what I was doing. You had people like Kraftwerk that were entirely electronic but that wasn't what I wanted to do. Ultravox were by far the best thing I'd found. That album become my blueprint, my reference point. With whatever I did, I was trying to get to that level. When I was doing 'Are "Friends" Electric?' and 'Cars' and all those sorts of songs I was trying to get as good as I considered Systems Of Romance to be. I never, ever got close in my opinion. I had more success but in my opinion the quality of what they were doing was beyond anything I got to at that time. I was always in awe of it.

When I did my first album – which is seen as a pioneering album – they were on their third! I mean they were light years ahead of me! John Foxx was groundbreaking! I used to go see them live all the time and I thought that John Foxx as a frontman was fantastic. As I say, it set the standard that I tried to follow.