Herald rating: * * * *
It's not often someone appears on the telly and leaves you scratching your head and tapping your foot at the same time, but Mr Numan managed just that in 1979. Up popped this deadpan, bleach-blond, she-bloke asking Are Friends Electric? to a backdrop of moody synthetic tones and processed guitars. Not that we realised at the time, but his blend of low-period Bowie and Kraftwerk marked the birth of electroclash.
Scroll forward 30 years and his original blueprint can be heard in all manner of revivalists from New Young Pony Club to !!! and Soulwax. So what better time than now to re-release his debut and pre-Cars album Replicas, complete with bonus disc of anorak-friendly early versions, a couple of B-sides and that first hit single, to remind the new generation synth-noodlers where it all started? Numan's multi-tracked voice remains as singular and evocative as ever while classic tracks like the oft-covered Down In The Park show he could drag a top tune out of a toaster if he had to.
Label: Beggar Banquet Records
Verdict: There have been plenty of replicas, but there's only one Numan.