GARY NUMAN - the Aphex Twin of 1979 and the man who invented techno
pop (allegedly) - talks about the records he plays here, in his car
1. THE MONKEES: "I'm A Believer"
"WE had a group, me and my friends, The Monkee Juniors. We used
to go round people's houses for money. Two and six a time. We used a
chair leg as a microphone. I had the bobble hat, and I had the same
birthday as Mickey Dolenz. That made me a bit of a hero in my street.
That's how I got started."
2. T. REX: "Telegram Sam"
"THE first pop star I saw where I understood the lifestyle, the
money, the excitement, what it meant. From then on, I spent my whole
life wanting to be a rock star. I went to see Born To Boogie a dozen
times. There's a bit where Bolan's playing this outrageous guitar, and
then this dwarf comes along and eats an amp which is made out of chocolate.
3. DAVID BOWIE: "Jean Genie"
"THE thing I admired about Bowie, like a lot of stars from that
period, was that he was larger than life. I'd have been scared shitless
to meet him. What do you say? The man's from outer space! Later, I actually
met him, but we didn't get on. Which is a great disappointment. I did
a show for Kenny Everett years ago, and Bowie was on the same show.
I was there, Geldof was there, it was a bit of a fan club convention,
all watching. And Bowie spotted me, stopped everything, and made the
guards come and throw me out. I was gutted. I mean, what was I to him?
Just some little upstart who'd popped up with a quirky record. Fucking
4. QUEEN: "Seven Seas Of Rhye"
"I ONCE went to Japan, supposedly with the band Japan, to do some
guest slots. It was a loose arrangement. Then I read that they were
already in Tokyo! I thought we were mates, especially Mick Karn. So
I flew to Tokyo to find them. To cut a long story short, they shot off
in a car, and I had to get a cab to chase them. So I got this bullet
train on my own to Osaka. I sat there waiting to be called on for the
sound check, but the stadium starts filling up, and no-one calls me.
Slimy little gits. So I'm in Tokyo, on my tod, with nothing to do, and
I see this poster: Queen in concert. So I buy a ticket, and Roger Taylor
recognises me in the crowd, and takes me backstage. They looked after
me like a little lost lamb. I didn't like sushi, so Freddie said 'Don't
worry, luvvie!' and sent a limo for some McDonald's."
5. ULTRAVOX: "Slow Motion"
"I WENT into a really cheap studio in 1977, and found a mini-Moog
someone had left behind, hooked up to a bass amp. I'd never seen a synth
before. So I started playing, and I thought 'Monster! More power than
10 heavy metal guitars!' I tried to find out if anyone else was doing
electronic music, and I found two records: Kraftwerk, and Ultravox's
Systems Of Romance album. Suddenly, everything started to explode, and
luckily I became the focal point. The Musicians' Union tried to ban
me, and ban synthesizers, which is a bit like trying to stop a bulldozer
with your hand. Then came The Human League, OMD, and Depeche Mode -
who I tried to sign, but they'd already signed to Mute. Bummer! Every
time I see them, my pocket weeps at the lack of money. But I'm having
a great time selling all my old synthesizers. People are lapping 'em
up. They don't know why I got rid of 'em in the first place! I think
I'm more comfortable with guitars these days... but maybe I'm talking
out of my arse. I've just done the soundtrack for an advert for a French
range of make-up called The Original Sin. I'm doing it for free so that
maybe I'll get a few more offers."
6. OMD: "Messages"
"THAT record reminds me of the time I became famous. They supported
me on my first tour. I used to hear it when I was in the dressing room,
with my mum putting my white and blue make-up on me. You know this Take
That-mania? It was like that. People jumping from balconies onto the
PA, people stowing away in the boot of the coach, every bizarre offer
you could imagine... At one show, people were climbing 80 feet up the
side of the theatre to get in! Fucking hell! No-one's that good. I sure
as fuck wasn't!" (Loud buzzer goes off in background. Numan waves
hands between legs, as though he's farted.)
7. ROBERT PALMER: "Addicted To Love"
"HE used to do 'Cars' and 'Me, I Disconnect From You' in his live
set. There's nothing guaranteed to make you more proud than someone
else covering your song. We've co-written a few songs. On the sleeve
of his Greatest Hits, he says that I'm painfully shy. And I am!"
Pic Steve Bateman - more here
8. PRINCE: "Sign O' The Times"
"I WAS told that Prince used to do 'Cars' in his soundcheck, too.
Yeah! And Chic, they did, too. Prince is the sort of bloke who sucks
in like a sponge what's going on around him. What about 'Cream'? That's
'Get It On', isn't it? Have you noticed, everyone's slagging off Michael
Jackson for turning white, but have you ever seen any early pictures
of Prince? Now that was a very black man. These days he's a white man,
with a laughably small beard. I really admire anyone who puts on a real
spectacular show, without charging £250 a ticket like Barbra Streisand."
9. JANET JACKSON: "Miss You Much"
"IT'S got a real attitude. The drum arrangements are exceptional.
When I was going through a funky period, this really helped me. She's
gone really sappy now."
10. JESUS JONES: "The Devil You Know"
"THEY get a bad press? Hmm, I finally understand rock critics,
actually, because I've been writing for Pilot magazine. I don't care
if they call me a fat ugly bastard. It was when they said my mum and
dad should've been doctored so as not to give birth to me - that's going
too far. My mum is the loveliest person you could ever hope to meet.
It's not like I've raped somebody. If they're jealous, say it: 'He's
a cunt, but I would like his car, his house and probably his girlfriend.'
D'you know, Elvis Costello's manager hit the man who signed me, for
signing me?! Now, that is very unnecessary. Like you're so great, Elvis."
11. THE SISTERS OF MERCY: "Vision Thing"
"THIS totally fired my interest in hard, heavy guitars again. I
might not look like it today - these are my smart clothes. The Sisters
are well cool. But did you find they have so much smoke you can't see
the show? I said to my girlfriend, 'I'm a bit fucked with this, I can't
see anything.' And this fan behind me says 'That's their way', a bit
threatening. I was, 'Sorry, fair enough!'"
12. DEPECHE MODE: "Never Let Me Down Again"
"OVER the years, they've got harder. They look like they've been
through some shit. Nothing against Take That, etc, but it's all become
a bit safe. Pop stars should do things... drink, be scary, have attitude.
What? No, I didn't nearly die in a plane crash! I hit a tree. But if
a jumbo crashed and I was on board, the press would say it was my fault.
The price of fame."
Steve Bateman - more here
© Simon Price, 1994/2009