Gary Numan

The Dramatis Project

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When Gary Numan made his dramatic exit from touring in 1981, his backing band, Dramatis, decided to continue as a quartet. This lone album, originally titled For Future Reference, is the result, remembered today for the one song ("Love Needs No Disguise," a British Top 40 hit) to which Numan added his robotic vocals. It's hardly surprising that the bandmembers -- keyboardist/violist Chris Payne, guitarist Russell Bell, keyboardist Denis Haines, and drummer Cedric Sharpley -- drafted their boss, then at the height of his fame, for some help, or that his contribution overshadows the rest of For Future Reference. But it is a little curious that a group that had spent so long playing Numan material should have such trouble replicating it. The familiar touches are all there, including loads of analog synths and sci-fi subject matter, and Bell even manages a passable android impersonation on songs like "Oh! 2025." The mood runs counter to expectations, however, undermined by chipper disco grooves, friendly pop hooks, and the occasional bit of prog rock wankery. Dramatis had evidently decided to forge its own sound, yet for Numan fans (who were, after all, the primary audience), that decision must have been confusing at best. Speaking of confusion, the album was finally reissued in 2000 -- but as The Dramatis Project, under the moniker of Numan's first band, Tubeway Army.

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