I know what you're thinking. First Wall of Voodoo, then DEVO and now Gary Numan? Joe Stumble, you have lost it.
Well, you kind sir, are wrong.
Have you ever seen Gary Numan's performance of "Down In The Park" in Urgh! A Music War? It's so sublimely ridiculous. Numan performs the whole song in a little car that scoots around the stage while he sings. He never gets out of the car. There's enough smoke on the stage to fuel a Spinal Tap concert. His band, The Tubeway Army, play thier OB-Xa's and SCI Prophet 5's in soundproof booths behind him in some sort of Spengler meets TRON stage getup. The whole time Gary sings, he never smiles or acknowledges the ridiculousness of his environment.
Kinda like in the video for "Cars", actually. There he is in triplicate, shrunken down to the size of a football, driving down the keyboard. Not once does Gary Numan indicate to you that this is completely silly.
In fact, I don't think he found it silly at all. I think Gary Numan was dead serious. And that makes it even better.
The same can be said about Numan's lyrics. If you think Chrome could be campy...fuck, Numan was on a whole different level. In fact on this second 45 from 1978 he isn't even Gary Numan yet. He goes by the name "Valerian". Not Gary Valerian either. Just Valerian.
Seriously, if you want a sobering look into a dystopian, soul-less future set to soundscapes that will take you to the very heart of darkness, well I recommend Heathen Earth. But if you want the Ed Wood version, I challenge you to listen to this 45 by Valerian and his band of merry praksters, The Tubeway Army. The guitars rock. Its punkish like early Ultravox. Its good shit.
And yes, a few years ago Gary made a bit of a comeback. He was in a video with Trent Reznor I believe. There he was with a wig on looking very Shatner-esque. But he didn't smirk like Shatner. He was still dead fuckin' serious.....
Bombers 7inch EP
If you like this 45, there is another one before it called That's Too Bad that I recommend. Both of them are stone cold classic slices of late 1970's sci-fi punk. All of The Tubeway Army's punk material has been re-released on The Plan, a great comp on Beggars UK. More info on these recordings here.
I think that anything Numan recorded up until Telekon is worth owning. After that, it all starts to just get too silly.