Tubeway Army

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Tubeway Army

Tubeway Army's line-up for most of their recordings
(L to R): Gary Numan, Jess Lidyard, Paul Gardiner
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Punk rock, post-punk, new wave, electronic
Years active 1976–1979
Labels Beggars Banquet Records
Past members
Gary Numan
Paul Gardiner
Jess Lidyard
Bob Simmonds
Barry Benn
Sean Burke
Chris Payne
Billy Currie
Cedric Sharpley
Trevor Grant

Tubeway Army (1976–1979) were a London-based punk rock and new wave band led by lead singer Gary Numan. Tubeway Army were the first band of the post-punk era to have a synthesiser-based hit, with the single "Are 'Friends' Electric?" and its parent album, Replicas, topping the UK Album Chart in mid 1979.



[edit] Line up

The only constant members were:

Other musicians included:

Gary Numan was the driving force of the band, writing the material and producing the recordings; subsequent albums were issued under his own name once the album Replicas became successful. Gardiner, Sharpley, and Payne continued as his backing band for some years. Gardiner died from a drug overdose in February 1984; Numan's personal tribute to his former cohort was the song "A Child with the Ghost", on the album Berserker (1984).

[edit] History

Gary Webb, aged nineteen, had fronted London band Mean Street in 1976 (their song "Bunch of Stiffs" appeared on the Live at the Vortex compilation, and was the B-side of the Vortex 7"). Leaving this band acrimoniously, he auditioned as lead guitarist for another band called The Lasers, where he met bass-player Paul Gardiner. The pair left The Lasers soon after and formed Tubeway Army, initially with Webb's uncle Jess Lidyard on drums. Webb rechristened himself "Valerian", Gardiner "Scarlett" and Lidyard "Rael".

Webb was quite a prolific song-writer and ambitious for commercial success. The band began playing gigs on the punk scene in London and managed to secure a record deal with the independent Beggars Banquet label. They released two guitar-heavy, punk-style singles in the first half of 1978 ("That's Too Bad"/"Oh! Didn't I Say", and "Bombers"/"Blue Eyes"/"OD Receiver"). These failed to chart.

Soon afterwards, the Tubeway Army album was released on blue vinyl, at which point Webb adopted the name "Gary Numan". Allegedly, Numan actually took his new pseudonym from a local Yellow Pages where a plumber called "Arthur Neumann" was listed, the singer abandoning the German spelling, to become Numan. Whilst still largely guitar/bass/drums-based, the album saw his first tentative use of the Minimoog synthesizer, which he had come across by accident in the recording studio during the album sessions. Lyrically the record touched on dystopian and sci-fi themes similar to those employed by authors such as Philip K. Dick, of whom Numan was a fan (the opening lines of the song "Listen to the Sirens" are a direct lift from the title of Dick's book Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said). Whilst the album's modest initial pressing (which included a large batch of warped editions) sold out, it did not enter the album charts at that time, and no singles were lifted from it. By this time Tubeway Army had decided to abandon live shows – Numan was unhappy with pub-venue gigs on the often violent London punk scene (the only known recording of a Tubeway Army concert – a London show from February 1978 – was released as a bootleg album in the early 80s; it was later officially included under the title Living Ornaments '78 as bonus tracks on the 1998 CD re-release of the Tubeway Army album).

Following swiftly on in early 1979, excited by the possibilities of synthesizers, Numan took Tubeway Army back into the studio to record a follow-up album, Replicas. The result was more synth and science fiction orientated than the last album. The first single from the album, the bleak, slow-paced keyboard-driven song "Down in the Park", failed to chart. However, the next single, "Are 'Friends' Electric?" was more successful. A special picture-disc helped boost sales but what particularly grabbed the British public's imagination was Tubeway Army's appearance on the BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test, followed soon after by a slot on Top of the Pops. The band appeared all dressed in black and near-motionless, Numan in particular giving a performance often referred to as being "like an android" (a style that was later reported to have been a means of covering stage nerves but which then became his trademark). The single climbed steadily to stay at number one in the UK charts for 4 weeks, with Replicas following suit in the album charts. With Tubeway Army still avoiding live shows, Numan recruited some additional musicians to make these television appearances (see above).

Numan became the first synth-based artist in Britain to break through into major commercial success. At this point, he dropped the Tubeway Army name and subsequent releases were made under the artist name Gary Numan.

[edit] Discography

[edit] Albums

Year Details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1978 Tubeway Army 14
1979 Replicas
  • Released: April 1979
  • Label: Beggars Banquet, Atco
1 8 37 124
19841 The Plan
  • Released: October 1984
  • Label: Beggars Banquet

1 The demos were recorded in 1978, but were first released in 1984. Beggars Banquet have re-released and re-mastered these recordings numerous times. Current CD editions supplement the original album tracks with all single A- and B-sides, 12" bonus tracks, studio out-takes, and recovered bootleg live material.

[edit] Singles

Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1978 "That's Too Bad" Tubeway Army
1979 "Down in the Park" 198 Replicas
"Are 'Friends' Electric?" 1 12 23 3 9 8 UK: Gold[6]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

[edit] References

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