35 Years Ago: Gary Numan Changes Gears With ‘Dance’
By Sept. 4, 1981, the synth-pop Gary Numan helped move into public consciousness had become trite and cliche with countless New Wave acts taking that template and draining it of any significance. Though he didn't abandon the synths on his fifth album, Dance, he did begin to mix in other sounds and styles to try to set himself apart from the beast he helped create.
The first noticeable thing about Dance, is the funk-driven bass of "Slowcar to China," it reeks of the influence of the band Japan, who themselves had gone through a transformation from pseudo-glamsters into a refined Roxy Music-inspired band. Numan also made sure he had a new image to go with the new sounds. Gone were the futuristic inspired threads, replaced by the classic traditionalism of a smart suit and tie.
"Night Talk" uses electronics but in a much more minimalist way with funk bass and rhythm box carrying most of the weight while other atmospheres and Numan's vocals ride atop. Elements of David Bowie's famous Berlin period are obviously part of Numan's influence here, painting styles found on Low and Heroes into the mix. The single "She's Got Claws" preceded the album and turned out to be another hit for Numan, hitting the U.K. Top 10 that summer. One of the album's catchiest tracks, it bridges the sound he was leaving behind with the style he was now mining to good effect.
Unlike his previous three releases, all of which hit No.1 in the U.K., Dance somewhat came and went, only making a brief appearance in the Top Five (No. 3 to be exact) before tumbling out shortly thereafter.
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