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Strange Charm Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 29 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Numa
  • ASIN: B000023Y8S
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
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Product Description

Album Description

Originally limited to 2,000 copies on CD when first released in 1986, this highly sought after reissue features the U.K. top 30 hits 'I Can't Stop' & 'This Is Love'. Eight tracks in all. Other six: 'My Breathing', 'Un- known And Hostile', 'The Sleeproom', 'New Thing From London Town', 'Strange Charm' and 'The Need'.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f1abf18) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efe8b1c) out of 5 stars Charm Up, Strange Down March 25 2000
By N. A. Parry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Apparently, this was written and created when Gary Numan was at a low ebb. He was feeling increasingly isolated and some of the lyrics here reflect this. Although 'Strange Charm' contains two of my least favourite tracks (the overlong 'This is Love' single, and the dreadfully sung 'The Need'), the album has many highpoints which vastly outweight the lows. 'My Breathing' and 'New Thing from London Town' are perfect 'pop' (whatever that is), 'Unknown and Hostile' is quietly unsettling, and 'The Sleeproom' is surprisingly honest. I always feel that Numan's writing is at it's best when he is under pressure (the 'Dance' album for example), and 'Strange Charm' reflects this. Well worth a listen.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efe8b70) out of 5 stars "I know that I don't sound like I should" Aug. 5 2004
By mwreview - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I bet more than a few Numan fans back in 1986 felt a bad trick was played on them when they plopped Strange Charm on their turntables for the first time. "My Breathing" is amazing! On my top 10 all-time Numan list. It quietly builds up and then kicks in with this powerful orchestra sound (well keyboard-generated orchestra sound) and quiet, actually very nice, female vox. Unbelievable song! Words cannot do justice. After The Fury, which disappointed many fans, this song must have sounded like a breath of fresh air (no pun intended). Numan is back on track! Then the saxophone blares and the female singers wail on the second track "Unknown and Hostile" and reality sets in. More Janet Jacksonesque music from the New Wave/synthesizer god.

"I Can't Stop" and "The Need" continues the annoying material found on The Fury ("Creatures," "This Disease"). The latter is my vote for all-time worst Numan track. Like on The Fury, though, there are some decent tracks on here, besides the excellent opener, that keeps Strange Charm from being a bust. The title track rocks! It reminds me of "The Pleasure Skin" off The Fury. "The Sleeproom" and "This is Love" are two beautiful ballads. I know a lot of fans hate Numan's very commercial work with Bill Sharpe, but I think "New Thing from London Town" is rather catchy. Cleopatra's issue even gives you a 7:57 version of the infamous single with different lyrics. Of the extra tracks, the haunting ballad "Time to Die" is the best. It reminds me a little of "I Still Remember" off The Fury. According to the liner notes, it was inspired by the movie "Blade Runner" (a clip from which begins "Call Out the Dogs"). "Faces" and "Survival" are two odd instrumentals. Strange Charm is one of my least played Numan CDs but "My Breathing" alone makes it worth the price. This issue has black & white photos of Numan from the period (one color photo with Sharpe) and lyrics.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efe8fa8) out of 5 stars I don't understand all the rampage against this album Oct. 21 2008
By Said Head - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I feel this album to be one of Numan's best; sure, it's not Replicas or Pleasure Principle, but fans of an ever-evolving artist have to keep up with him in taste and style, which this album clearly has great value in. 1983's Warriors was a mislead and equally misleading album that paired Numan's signature style with dancier beats and instrumentation; for me, it misses the mark. Berserker was a great album, though found Numan in the same strange place that Warriors was trying to get out of. The Fury is Numan's perfecting the fusion of dancey pop and new wave, taking his style into a more industrial, slightly funky direction; the only problem with that album is the lack of originality between the tracks.

This album shows Numan taking that perfected new sound he'd been working on for years and indulges in musical ideas. Using his new found admiration for female backing vocals and saxophone he managed to create an eclectic and very well-written album.

As another reviewer stated, 'My Breathing' is an extremely powerful track, using decidedly non-Numan instrumentation: orchestral strings. It's catchy and serious altogether, and a great impression on the album's overall effect.

'Unknown & Hostile' is a very funky dance track that I'm sure most 'die-hard' Numan fans probably ignore whole-heartedly. But really the combination of sax, keyboards, and sparse guitar give this an outlandish feel that I think he had attempted to create on Warriors; well, if that really is the case, here we finally get to hear that vision!

'Sleeproom', while not a ballad, is a down-tempo stroke of isolation; the vocals are powerful, and Numan speaks very vividly of his career, say 'I don't sound like I should; I don't even belong to fashion' shows that he is aware of people's dislike of his new style, but that this is what he is. It's really more of a rather polite 'f*** off' to anybody who wants more Tubeway Army.

'New Thing From London Town', the album version, is an incredible industrial tune with some of the most forward-looking synths I've ever heard. While the music isn't exactly product of Numan's, the new vocals are a bit better over the original single's I think.

'I can't Stop' really stands away from the rest of the album; it has somewhat of an arena rock feel with the guitars, but most aspects of the song are signature late 80's Numan sound. I think Numan may have been trying a little too hard with this song, but it's still a great listen, and the extra version of the track available on most remastered CD's of the album is not to be missed.

The title track is an awesome piece on its own, as well as tying in the rest of the song. All the different ideas and styles that make this album so unique can be found in this track.

'The Need', perhaps the strangest song on SC, is the longest track, and very repetitive. I personally really like this track for its straight-forward beat and sparse instrumentation that gets thrown in the mix here and there which in some moments is in a way hypnotic and dancey in different moments.

As the only true ballad on the album, 'This is Love' takes the energy of the last few tracks and brings them back to a very isolated cache of emotions. I personally think ballads are cliche, but this one, with the other two slower, more serious songs, really shows what the purpose of the ballad is all about. This song is spacey, surreal, but uses piano chords, sax, and female vocals, among other things, to keep it human enough.

The b-side 'Time To Die', I never cared much for, mainly because Numan didn't even write it, but it definitely sounds as if it had been, since it uses references from 'Blade Runner' (a film that Numan had taken inspiration and used samples from until the early 90's).

The two instrumentals, 'Faces' and 'Survival' are fascinating industrial pieces, a style that he doesn't get back into until 'Outland' and 'Machine & Soul'. They both use heavy percussion and deep synths mainly, while retaining their own strengths. They're honestly brilliant, and I think, providing that these had been included in the album, that it would have made a bigger impact, but at least now we get to hear them on CD.

Overall, this album is extremely under-rated; it may be a little much for casual/beginner fans of Numan, and it would definitely be a good call to get his earlier mid 80's material like Berserker and The Fury first, to prepare yourself for the feel of this one. Absolutely one of my top favorite albums by Numan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efcc384) out of 5 stars Atmospheric July 3 2001
By Alf Kremer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This isn't my least favorite Gary Numan album (that's MACHINE & SOUL) but I never found this one too compelling. My problems with this album were thrown into focus when I read that Gary Numan more or less had ideas for the album, but never really brought them into sharp focus. That explained a lot - the album has a tense, forboding atmosphere, but nothing really to hang the atmosphere on. Sort of a Gary Numan environmental album. There are several highlights - "My Breathing" was deservedly singled out for praise (the hook'll stay with you for days), and "I Can't Stop" plays with rhythm and lyrics in interesting ways. The bonus track "Time to Die" is a rare ballad that comes together quite nicely. Except for the "longer-versions-of-what-you've-already-heard", the bonus tracks are actually a very welcome addition, with some instrumental work that actually enhances the feeling of the album. Maybe not an essential Gary Numan purchase, but certainly no embarassment.
HASH(0x9efcc468) out of 5 stars Gary Numan moving further away from "Cars" (which is a good thing in my opinion) [-->Eagle/import version] May 27 2011
By RoHLand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Strange Charm is another nice offering by Gary Numan. It may not be as catchy and immediate as his early 'machine' albums, or as focused and coherent as Dance and I, Assassin. But still it is a respectable opus.

"My Breathing" opens the album nicely (as Numan does on most albums) with a brooding and dreamy atmosphere, it features synth strings, vindictive lyrics (very personal, against his exclusion from radio play) and a very beautiful female voice in the chorus (really stimulating and not as annoying as Numan's usual female backing singers).

I don't care that much for "Unknown and Hostile" as it features a tad too much 'funky' bass playing, female vocals (the 'bad', annoying ones) and saxophone (all of which are not bad things in themselves, but when over-used like on this track it repels me somewhat).

"The Sleeproom" is a good return to form, starting dark and slowly in the verse and blurting out sad and catchy in the chorus; very personal lyrics again (about self-rejection and failing to make a big impact with his new musical directions). I also very much like the middle/bridge part of the track (singing "and I'm moving, and I'm lying down, and I'm losing").

"New Thing from London Town" is decent. The track in itself is good, but it's not very Numan as the music was written by Bill Sharpe and thus seems somewhat out of place here (would have fit better on some kind of compilation album).

"I Can't Stop" starts out nicely, but it turns out to be a bit long and repetitive (and again featuring the more annoying type of female backing vocal I don't really like).

"Strange Charm" (the title track) is much better again, recalling the dark and dreamy atmosphere of "My Breathing", a catchy driving bassline, angry snot-nosed vocals and again has this soft beautiful female voice in the chorus (the 'good' kind that I could almost fall in love with).

"The Need" is a rather mediocre effort for my taste, as it's stretched out over-long (clocking in over 7 minutes) and again over-using saxophone, 'funky' basslines and (the 'bad') female backing vocals. I also don't care much for Gary Numan's singing on that song, as the lyrics are comparatively primitive ("bang bang dear") and featuring one of his wackiest vocal performances ever.

"This Is Love" (about love sickness and isolation), on the other hand, is a darkly-percussive and beautifully emotive ballad, being a fulfilling closer the original album, also showing that Numan can have deep sad emotions and is not just cold, inhuman or robotic as he was initially perceived to be.

What really convinced me to give this album five stars is the inclusion of five remarkable bonus tracks (for the Eagle/import version). There is "Time to Die", a really gloomy and depressing song, about total self-abandonment and being resolved to depart from life (the lyrics being partly inspired by the ending sequence in Blade Runner, which Gary Numan was a big fan of).
And the four dark instrumentals "Faces", "Survival", "River" and "Mistasax" are all haunting and beautiful, showing that Gary Numan can write music as equally dark and brooding as Depeche Mode (one of those tracks has vague similarities to DM's "Agent Orange").

Overall one can say, this album somehow is very Numan, and somehow is not. It's not of that harsh, catchy, robotic and synthetic type that characterised songs like "Cars" and albums like The Pleasure Principle, with whom Gary Numan initially became famous, commercially had the most success with and is most remembered for nowadays.
On the other hand, Strange Charm is genuinely Gary Numan (the man), as it features very personal lyrics, dreamy, dark emotive songs, and with tracks like "My Breathing" or "This Is Love" proving that Gary Numan is a normal sentient human being with feelings and needs like everyone else.
So for anyone just expecting "Cars"-like material, it is not recommended. But for those who really like Gary Numan (fans or connoisseurs of his vast catalogue) Strange Charm is a charming and safe way to go, bound to grant another hour of pleasurable and rewarding listening.

[two less important asides:
- concerning the female backing vocals employed on this record, as I mentioned there are two kinds: one of them (the 'show-biz' like voice) I find rather obtrusive and annoying (e.g. the one singing "Get the need!" or "You won't like it" {which is blatantly true for this kind of voice}). The other female voice is of the pleasant kind I like, soft, subtle and dream-like (e.g. the beautiful voice singing "my breathing haunts me" or "strange charm").
- the 'rewarding listening' comment actually refers to the Eagle/import version of Strange Charm (and not the Cleopatra version), as it has the great instrumental bonus tracks "River" and Mistasax" which I treasure, while I really don't need 12"-versions of "I Can' Stop It" and "New Thing from London Town" (as offered on the Cleopatra release), but that is a matter of taste]