In the U.S., Gary Numan is remembered as a one-hit-wonder, while back home in his native England, he continued to crank out hit after hit and became a superstar in the process. His icy space-age persona and sound may be forever associated with early-80's British new wave (Flock of Seagulls, early Duran Duran, etc.), but he was the originator, and today seems pretty darned original. Numan was a scholar of the David Bowie Ziggy Stardust-era, and used Bowie's space alien approach as a starting point. While retaining his futuristic lyrics, Gary stripped Ziggy's sound free of the distorted guitar riffing and posturing, and replaced it with clinical synthesizers and a standoffish stage persona. His music also gives off a paranoid vibe at times, as evidenced on the hits "I Die: You Die" and "Are 'Friends' Electric?" But Numan's songs can also sedate you ("Down in the Park"), while other times sneak up on you (the unexpected punk rocker "Bombers"). And of course there's his sole U.S. hit, "Cars," which sounds like a not so distant ancestor to fellow futuristic weirdos Devo.
After a decade of leading quartets that matched his vibes with a variety of top young guitarists, Gary Burton decided that it was time for a change. While he is joined by a pair of longtime associates (bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Roy Haynes), the fourth member of the group on this set is the young trumpeter Tiger Okoshi. Since Burton has never been a major composer, the CD reissue finds the group playing five Swallow originals, two by Keith Jarrett, and Jim Hall's "Careful." Okoshi's presence adds more fire to this session than was typical of most of Burton's previous records. A fine outing.