Document Series Presents is easily one of the best single-disc compilations available of Numan's most creative and successful period, 1978-1983. The disc presents, chronologically, his most appealing titles from early, new wave-punk sounds to cold, mechanical music to dance-oriented synth-pop. While over half of the compilation covers the latter, represented by Dance (1981) and I, Assassin (1982), Document Series Presents also includes material from The Plan (demos, circa 1978), Tubeway Army (1978), Pleasure Principle (1979), Replicas (1979), and Warriors (1983).
Numan's successful synthesis of dark atmospherics, new wave-punk attitude, and jagged, robotic rhythms coupled with sci-fi-inspired lyrics and style was rather unique. While he was initially influenced by (and borrowed from) various aspects of Eno's and Bowie's mid-'70s experiments and German electronic composers, Numan's music grew gradually warmer, as seen in the Dance and I, Assassin projects.
Pronounced drums, percussion, and bass dominate these two albums, with bassist Mick Karn (Japan) and drummer Roger Taylor (Queen) as featured players on the Dance cuts and session bassist Pino Palladino a standout on the I, Assassin tracks. Karn's fretwork is the star of "Subway I Call You" and the funky, jazzy "She's Got Claws," while Palladino's vibrant bass work is exceptional on "The Image Is," "A Dream of Siam," and the funky, synth-pop rocker, "White Boys and Heroes."
The Eno/Bowie influence is evident in the atmospheric "Complex" (from Pleasure Principle), and Bowie's simpler, early '70s style comes through on "Jo the Waiter" (from Tubeway Army), a semi-acoustic, melodic little number quite unlike most of Numan's output. Other compositions that showcase Numan's diverse musical and lyrical strengths include "Mean Street," "You Are in My Vision," and the cold, robotic synth-rock hit, "Cars."