The 80s Come Alive: Cars (Gary Numan)
Thanks in part to commercial licensing and inclusion in numerous video games, the song ‘Cars’ is one you’ve probably heard but not know who the artist is behind it, unless of course you’re part of the 80’s generation. Or Nine Inch Nails. Or Marilyn Manson. Or Beck. Or Basement Jaxx. Or Queens of the Stone Age. All of whom list ‘Cars’ writer and singer Gary Numan as an influence on their music, and many of whom have either covered or sampled songs by Numan. ‘Cars’ was released on the ‘Pleasure Principle’ album in 1979, and by 1980 it had cracked the Top Ten on the American charts and hit Number One in the U.K. Numan relied heavily on synthesizers throughout his career, and ‘Principle’ featured no guitars, instead focusing on keyboards processed through guitar effects pedals as well as a healthy dose of electronic percussion. Throughout the 80’s Numan staged several theatrically influenced tours to packed houses around the world. Even though the tours sold out, Numan claims to have made very little money off them since the cost of staging them was so expensive.
I’ve included two versions of the song ‘Cars’ today, both recorded in London, England. The first is from a 1984 Numan concert, the second from a Nine Inch Nails show last year where Gary made a surprise appearance to perform not only ‘Cars’ but his song ‘Metal’.
Numan in ’84:
Numan with Nine Inch Nails: