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.
Upgrading an earlier two-fer CD that curiously omitted great swathes of both albums, the coupling of 1979's breakthrough Replicas and the 1978 demos that comprised The Plan is both chronologically and musically askance – one entire LP, Tubeway Army's eponymous debut, divided these two projects in time, and while it, too, barely hinted at the utter re-evaluation that Gary Numan would soon be making, the jolt would have been a lot less pronounced had some kind of internal logic been adhered to. No complaints, of course, about the bang for your buck. No less than 38 tracks are spread across the two discs, as the original 12-track The Plan and ten-song Replicas are joined by a wealth of bonus tracks, each offering up a full snapshot of Numan's activities at those particular points in time. The Plan adds three more of the demos that were recorded with the original LP's worth, then adds on the six songs recorded during sessions for the band's first two singles, on either side of the main attraction; Replicas is appended by half a dozen session outtakes, two of which were period B-sides.