The Secret Life of Numanoids ~ Part Nine

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Stephen Numan (Scotland)

What better way to show your love and admiration for someone than to take their surname as your own? I have been privileged with meeting Stephen Numan, who kindly agreed to share his secret life as a Numanoid on Rave and Roll. His story is a fascinating one, so sit back and enjoy.

Stephen writes:

There is history behind this. My mom divorced our abusive father when I was around four or five. My surname then was McAllister. When she got her divorce, she reverted to her maiden name of Boyle. She remarried many years later, and as a courtesy to my step-dad, I took on his surname of Nobbs. I took his name because he was great for my mom, and loved her and all us kids so much. Sometime later, I realized I wanted to take on the surname of Numan. I will explain later.

I have been a fan since first seeing Gary on The Old Grey Whistle Test back, I think, in 1978. What drew me to him was the projected persona: alien-like, emotionless, staring grey eyes, the eyeliner and make-up, and the utter loneliness I heard in his voice and lyrics.

Gary Numan’s music means EVERYTHING to me. I was 12 or 13 when I first heard his music. As a depressed loner at that time, I was searching for a hero, a figure I could look up to and possibly relate to. I saw that figure in Numan. I heard in his music and lyrics all the alienation and rejection I had felt throughout my childhood.

Now then, my favorite album – tricky – I would have to say Telekon, with The Pleasure Principle a close second. My fave song – EASY – “A Prayer for the Unborn” – just because of the story it tells about Gary and Gemma’s loss.

My fave Numan moment – his first live gig in Glasgow back in the day – it was amazing to see my hero on stage. I was in tears and utterly hysterical – oh the freedom of youth!

I think it’s obvious now my fave way to express my love for him; I changed my surname by deed poll 6 years ago. When I stayed in South Africa for 25 years, I imported ALL of his albums, singles and 12-inch singles. I had so many, I used to place them upon my living room walls as homage to the great man. I came back for a holiday in 1984 to see him on The Berserker Tour – great gig – I returned to SA with the album and a few 12-inch singles. I then painted the cover of Berserker on my living room wall – 10 foot by 10 foot, draped it in blue curtains with blue lighting from below – it looked awesome!

I’m a diehard Numan fan; always have been, and always will be. Obviously, I don’t like every track, and yet I love his ballads. “Don’t Call My Name” is truly heart-wrenching.

I have never met him, which makes me sad, and yet, maybe it’s meant to be that way. “Idolize at a distance.”

Whenever I need inspiration, whenever I need to be lifted from depression, whenever I need reminding of all that is and was great in my life – I play Gary Numan. Whenever I buy a new car or mp3 player – I ALWAYS play Numan on it first.

“Sleep By Windows” by Gary Numan via YouTube user themachman19691:

“A Prayer For The Unborn” by Gary Numan via YouTube user TheTelekon:

The Secret Life of Numanoids ~ Part Eight

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Nik Sylvian (FaceBook persona)

The 80s decade spawned a lifetime of brilliant music that has lived long into the 21st century. Some of the more tenacious artists have made it to the present, still creating vital and brilliant music. Of course, Gary Numan is one such lesson in creative survival, and he is in good company along with artists like Peter Murphy, Bryan Ferry, Simple Minds, David Bowie, and Japan, to name a few.

Speaking of Japan, Numanoid Nik Sylvian also happens to be a deeply committed fan of David Sylvian. Both Gary Numan and David Sylvian were non-conforming pioneers during the most exciting musical decade in modern history, so it stands to reason Nik would be drawn to both of them. Let’s take a closer look at Nik’s fascination with Numan.

Nik has been a fan of Gary Numan’s for the past 30 years. There was something about Numan’s music that caught Nik’s ear three decades ago. When asked specifically what that “something” was, Nik responds, “Gary Numan talking about the future and how it would be like.”

When you love an artist, it’s very difficult to nail down a favorite creation. When asked to name a favorite album, a fan will instinctively answer, “All of them.” Nik is straightforward with his response, however, stating that “Telekon” is his favorite Gary Numan album. He quickly adds, “Also, I Assassin.”

Similarly, Nik points to “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” as his prefered Numan single, but again adds, “And also, I Assassin.” There may be a trend here!

Exciting Numan moments for Nik include seeing Gary perform on Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. He’s in good company with many other long-term Numanoids who hold those same precious visions close to their hearts. As a final thought on Gary Numan, Nik shares, “He’s simply the best.” I know there are many people out there that would agree.

“Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” by Gary Numan – via YouTube user dashproductions:

“I Assassin” by Gary Numan – via YouTube user GaryNumanAlbums:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Dolphin Brothers

DB1Someone asked a question about The Dolphin Brothers on David Marsden’s community posting board this past week, which in turn became the inspiration for this week’s Criminally Underrated post.

Of course, I never need an excuse nor inspiration to post about anything or anyone remotely related to David Sylvian and his former venue Japan. I am in love with Sylvian, his contribution to the look and sound of the 80’s post-punk and New Wave era, and am enthralled by the depth of his talent which blossomed fully when he went solo, and continues to evolve to this day.

Sylvian’s brother Steve Jansen was also a member of Japan, along with Richard Barbieri. When Japan folded, Jansen and Barbieri struck out on their own as The Dolphin Brothers with Steve Jansen on lead vocals, drums, and percussion, and Richard Barbieri on keyboards and synthesizers. They produced one very fine album, Catch The Fall. This collection is comprised of catchy dance-infused tunes which perfectly suited the era into which it emerged. It also contains soul-infused ballads that sound as though they could have leapt directly from a solo David Sylvian album.DB2

There is always the temptation to compare The Dolphin Brothers to Japan, and Jansen to Sylvian, the highly recognizable, flamboyant front-man of Japan. Suffice it to say, the brothers share incredibly good looks and even have a familial vocal resemblance. And yes, traces of Japan influence emerge on several of the tracks, along with the style that Sylvian himself defined in his solo works, which is not necessarily a bad thing. No matter; Jansen and Barbieri did a highly successful job of creating a sound and feel complimentary to David Sylvian’s signature style and that of Japan’s, but polished and strong enough to stand on its own.

Other musicians who contributed to the one and only LP release were Phil Palmer and David Rhodes (acoustic and electric guitars), B. Heinrich-Keat (electric guitar), Clive Bell (Thai flute, khene, crumhorn), Carrie Booth (piano), Danny Thompson (double bass), Matthew Seligman and Robert Bell (bass), Martin Ditchman (percussion), Suzanne Murphy, Kate Kissoon, and P.P. Arnold (backing vocals).

Unfortunately, finding The Dolphin Brothers music videos on YouTube is about as rare as hen’s teeth. These are the only two I was able to come up with – enjoy!

“Shining” fan video via YouTube user saturdayson:

“Catch the Fall” fan video via YouTube user yaiga:

Purchase “Catch the Fall” here.



DBaCatch The Fall (1987)

80’s Music Rules ~ Angelic 80’s Voices

Favorite music, favorite singers, favorite anything, really, is purely subjective. We all have different tastes and criteria that float each of our individual boats. So, I don’t expect people to agree with my selections for this entry, and readily admit up front that this is completely based on my own personal preferences.

That said, there were some outstanding male voices that emerged throughout my favorite music decade.

Iva Davies – Frontman for the iconic Australian band Icehouse, Iva Davies has a voice that easily spans several scales. Recently, I came across a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” that Davies nailed as well, if not better, than the Thin White Duke himself. Operatic, earnest, and flooded with emotion that envelops listeners and transports them to a place far within themselves, Davies’ voice is easily recognizable and welcomed when an escape from the cruel, cold world is prescribed. Enjoy the following performance given a full 30 years after breaking onto the music scene.

 Heroes” via YouTube user Maiblume4:

 Morten Harket – Nothing I can possibly say will do justice to Morten Harket’s voice. The amazing thing about this man is that his singing has gotten even better over the years. Best known for his work with A-Ha and the heavily rotated song “Take On Me,” Harket has continued to knock audiences out with his stunning vocals. A few months ago I featured Harket and A-Ha as “Criminally Underrated” because of the widespread assumption that they were “one-hit wonders.” Not true. Both Harket solo and along with a re-formed A-Ha continue to record and perform before sell-out audiences all over the world. The following is just one example of what he is capable of two decades after his world debut.

 “Darkspace” via YouTube user callimitty:

Bryan Ferry – Widely noted for his work with Roxy Music, Ferry’s career began in 1970, but blossomed in the 80’s with his newly re-formed version of the band. Ferry’s voice may not have the range of Harket’s or Davies’, but it is unmistakably gorgeous and sexy. “More Than This” is one of the most beautiful, long-lived love songs from the 80’s. More than 25 years after first hearing this song, I still swoon with overwhelming emotion when I play it. Bryan Ferry gave a world-class performance at the historic Apollo in 2001 and continues to thrill audiences worldwide. I can’t, and don’t even want to imagine my music collection minus Ferry’s seductive crooning. I know this: “Flesh and Blood” and “Avalon” (among other Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music LPs) were intimate friends that saw me through difficult times in the 80’s. Live from the Apollo and still incredibly sexy:

“My Only Love” via YouTube user azija44:

David Sylvian – I have heard that David Sylvian is not fond of his voice during his early Japan days. It’s true that he managed to mask a sultry, sexy, and hypnotic voice under a layer of post-punk glib for several years. When the “real” Sylvian finally emerged, it was as though he were taken over and possessed by aliens, the transformation was that dramatic. Post-Japan, Sylvian’s voice is mellow, hypnotic, and fabulously expressive. He continues to evolve, lyrically and musically with a voice that, like Morten Harket’s and fine wine, grows ever better with age. Whenever I need to curl up with a voice that transports me beyond the daily stresses and annoyances, Sylvian’s, via the LPs “Gone to Earth” or “Secrets of the Beehive” is one of the first to come to mind. Meanwhile, this is a fabulous example of David Sylvian live:

 When Poets Dreamed Of Angels” via YouTube user samadhisound:

Freddie Mercury – Somehow I feel that anything I write about Mercury’s voice has either a) already been written, or b) is woefully inadequate. The best I can do is to describe Mercury’s voice as a finely-tuned instrument, and that he was its master musician. The depth and range of Mercury’s voice knew no bounds. The members of his band Queen could only accompany him, rather than augment what was a superior and vital part of their sound. His untimely death in 1991 was the music industry’s and the world’s devastating loss. I firmly believe that he would have continued to evolve, always remaining elevated above the mere mortals of the music world. Freddie Mercury holding his own beautifully with opera singer Montserrat Cabelle in what would be his last performance:

 “Barcelona” via YouTube user buckey888: