Sunday, December 27, 2009

I lose myself in the night...

Radio Heart featuring Gary Numan

For a man who broke upon the world music scene about a decade earlier, and singing about metal, robots, aliens and cars, a lovelorn pop lament imploring a DJ to make a difference sure seems a bit...odd. But by 1987, Gary Numan was in need of some career revivification, and while his fleeting dalliance with a mysterious ensemble known as Radio Heart may not have accomplished that, it did keep him in the public eye at a time he was on the verge of asteriskdom (it's a word now), producing a UK Top 40 single in the process.

Radio Heart was to have been a musical consortium assembled by Numan acquaintance Hugh Nicholson, and its solitary LP cover also trumpeted the participation of Elton John and percussionist Ray Cooper, the shorn-pate performer who assembles his percussion area like a high altar for tribal sacrifice (hey, it takes a lot to upstage Elton John, but Cooper always manages it). However, their contribution to the project seems negligible, and Numan was heard fronting only three of the album's cuts. Numan felt so self-conscious about the LP being marketed as his own product that he had it pulled from stores after a matter of weeks. It's not the easiest thing in the world to come by, and explains why, even though I had heard of the song during its release, I never actually heard it until the miracle of the Interweb.

Give a close listen to the harmonic structure of the verses; the chord progression sounds lifted right from a Bach partita. (Billy Joel used the same technique to great success five years earlier with his single "Pressure.") In the promotional video, you get to see Numan bust some Elvis-like moves, and for being such a distant and unaffected performer, I have to say they look kinda cool. Numan's vocal delivery in his quavering Bowie-esque tenor is just too strange and mismatched for a basic pop song to be successful, but I think it adds a quirky frailty. And what I wouldn't give to always be accompanied by a pair of lovely backup singers in almost-matching b&w ensembles, with gloves, hair teased within an inch of its frizzed-out life, and a husky delivery that almost sounds like Kirsty MacColl. In fact, I believe I'll just pretend they're there whenever I'm blogging here at the Radio Heart.

Why, hello ladies...I just happen to have some jasmine-flavored cognac that I've acquired. Care for a snifter?...And is that Obsession that we're wearing today? Charming...

Well, the cognac's real, anyway.


1 comment:

  1. Steven,
    I am a moron! After loving your Heart in a Jar blog !!!! You would have thought I could have figured out how to find you over here too... duh... it's now 15 FebruHairy 2010 and I'm just now discovering the awesomeness which is RADIO HEART. Great idea for a blog. I hope you'll continue to post/share in 2010. I love Gary Numan. Then again, I love most synth 80s and related wonders from the decade of greed and parachute pants.
    your pal,