Gary Anthony James Webb, better known as Gary Numan, the "Godfather of Electronica", was born on March 8th, 1958 in Hammersmith, London, England. He first arrived in public consciousness as the frontman for the standard late-70's punk band Tubeway Army. The band broke up due to "artistic differences" after Gary discovered the synthesizer one day after a band left one in the recording studio they were using. He became enthralled by the instrument whilst his band mates decided they didn't like the electronic direction he was taking them. Gary continued using the name for the first few albums he released.
Securing a contract with Beggars Banquet, his early albums did amazingly well and his noir robotic image hit a chord with the emerging New Wave scene. His largest success came with the album The Pleasure Priniciple which featured the song "Cars." As New Wave waned in popularity his record sales dropped and he spent more time on his other passion, aviation.
In 1982 he attempted to fly around the world in his personal airplane (or as the Brits say, aeroplane), but it was taken down in India and he found himself arrested on suspicion of espionage. The charges didn't stick. He could also be spotted flying in stunt shows and the like. Around this time he also got married and started a family.
He never stopped releasing albums, however, and although they went largely unnoticed he hung on to a devoted cult fanbase. His sound did change with the times although he never strayed to far from his roots. He has recently enjoyed a an increase in popularity and sales of his back stock as the pendulum of pop music swings back to the realm of the electronic.
1978 - Tubeway Army - Beggars
1979 - Replicas - Beggars
1979 - The Pleasure Principle - Beggars
1980 - Telekon - Beggars
1981 - Dance - Beggars
1982 - I, Assassin - Beggars
1983 - Warriors - Arista
1984 - Berserker - Cleopatra
1985 - The Fury - Numa
1985 - White Noise (live) - Cleopatra
1986 - Strange Charm - Big Eye
1988 - Metal Rhythm - Illegal
1988 - Exhibition Tour 1987: Ghost (live) - Cleopatra
1989 - Automatic - Polydor
1991 - Outland - Capitol
1992 - Machine + Soul - Numa
1994 - The Radial Pair - Salvation
1994 - Sacrifice - Numea
1995 - Live Dark Light - Big Eye
1995 - Dream Corrosion (live) - Eagle
1995 - Human - Numa
1998 - Exile - Cleopatra
1998 - Black Heart - Culture Press
1998 - Living Ornaments '81 - Beggars
1999 - Time to Die (Live) - Receiver
2000 - The Dramatis Project - Dressed to
2000 - Pure - Edel Germany
2002 - Disconnection - Sanctuary
2003 - Hybrid - Artful
2003 - Reconnected: Live and More - Nascente
Personal Thoughts and Recommendations:
Gary Numan remains one of my favorite artists. He's like a sci-fi obsessed David Bowie minus the pretension and plus a synthesizer. His cryptic lyrics are often about oppressive social automation and a future lacking in human contact and real emotion. It is no wonder he didn't last as a pop star, his songs are extremely highbrow and deal with subject matter of very little widespread appeal. It is a shame though, he can effortlessly produce awesome synth hooks again and again and his voice has never lost the ability to express emotionlessness with such... eh... emotion.
Although his later works aren't really bad, per se, they do lack in variety. My favorite album of his is Replicas, followed closely by The Pleasure Principle. The first five or so are worth getting, however. Of his later stuff, I would suggest Exile and Hybrid. If you aren't that serious but still want to check him out, his Greatest Hits is pretty good but I would say that his Anthology (referred to as "The Nu-Box") is a lot better. Either way, if you liked "Cars" his early stuff is all just as good and it's bewildering why only that song charted in America. His song "Down in the Park" has been covered numerous times (by Marilyn Manson, for one) but his original remains the best.