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Why is Gary Numan's 7th album (I am counting the two 'Tubeway Army' albums but not the demo disc album, 'The Plan') called Warriors, with an appropriately dramatic record cover? His autobiography talks at some length about his new 'Mad Max' image but says nothing about what this might have to do with the content of the songs. The title track, 'Warriors' is about ageing, as the then twenty-five year old Gary Numan sings:

'I'm old
so old
This infection of time

My skin - Age
shows no kindness to me.'

Is he singing about himself? He did already have a problem of a receding hairline and his autobiography describes in detail the horrendous process of getting a hair transplant he went through at this time. 'Warriors' is followed by 'I am Render', one of many songs about his condition as a commercially failing rock star and his relations with his fans:

'I'm up here
You're down there
Call me the baitman
I'm screaming for air ...

I don't crash
The sky moves
I'll shape you dreams
That a lifetime can't lose ...

Young reckless sleepers
still screaming for air'

The refrain of 'Warriors' - 'I fell for so long for you all' suggests a relationship with the audience, as 'I'm the ghost/of the white faced clown' suggests his relationship with his own former image (about to come back again in an extreme form with the next album, 'Berserker'). Numan, we know, achieved instant, superstar success and fortune at the beginning of his career with his first four albums (dubbed by Paul Sutton The Machine Quartet) then everything went downhill except that he retained a very loyal hardcore fan base. Whom he tried severely when he developed a quite different, yet still masterly, style - fretless bass, saxophone, girl singers - with his fifth album, Dance (1981) and everything following it until Machine and Soul (1992), (1) after which he becomes, in my view (which I hope some time to elaborate), a different person altogether - not without interest but altogether different.

(1) To quote Paul Sutton: 'A teetotal gangster with gold lipstick. Out went the machine precision and in came the fretless bass and saxophones and punch drunk vocals, female backing singers (that isn’t a harmonica is it, Gary?) and songs about loose women, world travel, and aeroplane accidents, subjects, instruments, and a style, as far from the hearts and lives and interests of ordinary working class adolescents as it was possible to be.' There is indeed a very prominent harmonica on the I Assassin song 'The 1930s rust'. But though I like to stress the realism as opposed to the fantasy of Numan's early songs, does the obsession with male prostitution and anonymous encounters in the park of 'the machine quartet' really reflect 'the hearts and lives and interests of ordinary working class adolescents'?

But 'Warriors' could be about a real old man, someone other than himself, perhaps the same old man referred to in the song 'War Songs' from I Assassin, the album between Dance and Warriors:

'Old men love war songs
Love Vera Lynn
Old men love war songs
Now I'm Vera Lynn'

Is Numan, as Numan, really playing the role of Vera Lynn for an old man? In his autobiography he says:

'"War Songs" was a fairly light hearted look at being famous for a change. I'd gone through the paranoid, bitter introspective period by now and I was beginning to get used to the job ... I was finally beginning that difficult transition from boy to man, a few years too late of course, but better late than never.'

As usual with Numan's comments on his own songs this isn't very helpful. Numan maintains that the wooden, android image of The Machine Quartet days and the great Living Ornaments concerts resulted from the fact that he was almost paralysed with stage fright. His movements in the later concerts are certainly much more relaxed and fluid (and correspondingly less interesting). According to Paul Sutton:

'On the eve of the ending of the Machine Music part of his career, Gary Numan released Living Ornaments, two albums of recordings of Hammersmith Odeon concerts from The Touring Principle of 1979 and the Teletour of 1980. They are important evidence of a British artist in his prime. Numan, exhibiting all the hallmarks of a sort of nervous breakdown, in that his judgment was so clouded by emotion that it was badly effecting his career, particularly in regard to his employers and the promoters, insisted that the recordings were deleted four weeks after they went on sale. When questioned about that strange decision on Studio 815 on BBC Radio 1, the day before the Wembley concerts [the utterly transcendental concerts Numan declared at the time were the last he would ever do - PB] Numan said: "I want this image done. I want it finished. And I want it ended now. I want these albums out for Wembley and I don't want it to drag on. As far as I'm concerned it's over.' (2)

(2) I, Assassin has as a bonus track a song called 'War Games'. It would be difficult to give a coherent account of it but with lines like 'I'll stay now/Nothing's forever/This time there's no goodbye ... I won't change again/One of these days/I'll love it all and sleep/You are slow poison young friend' it could be written in the voice of an old man headed towards death.