Hackeptic’s 500 Greatest Songs: Tubeway Army – Down In The Park


245 – Tubeway Army – Down In The Park (1979)
Written by Gary Numan
Produced by Gary Numan
Label – Beggars Banquet

At the time the music press ridiculed Gary Numan as some kind of charlatan, hanging on the coat tails of Kraftwerk and David Bowie. Fans didn’t concur, and neither do I. Synthesizer music up until 1979 had been confined to the avant-garde experimenters, prog rockers, and Krautrockers with little chance of any of them troubling the pop charts. For better or worse, Numan took the machines and used them to develop commercially fueled songs. “Down In The Park” is his own interpretation of a dystopian future controlled by the “Machmen”. Having been inspired by Philip K Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”, he wrote this chilling single a few years before Ridley Scott had the same idea for “Bladerunner”. For any detractors, listen to the solo instrumental piano version from “Telekon”, and realize that the roots of the song come from a beautiful melody.

8 responses to “Hackeptic’s 500 Greatest Songs: Tubeway Army – Down In The Park

  1. As a fifteen year old I’d been exposed to a very daytime radio blend of pop music and nothing, nothing sounded remotely like this.
    Numan was a revolutionary, and a ground breaker, and this track is as culturally significant to my generation as Jailhouse rock or She loves you were to their peer audience.
    We now know that Numan influenced many, and showed it was OK for people like me who didn’t belong to the punk or mod trends prevalent at the time that it was OK to be different, and that makes this a great classic 45, that stands in the shadows of none.

  2. I remember OMD’s Andy McCluskey saying that they’d been toiling away for a couple of years trying to get a record deal and then out of the blue, this “Johnny come lately” goes and gets a number one. Looking back, if he hadn’t, would OMD have got the recognition they went on to achieve. Lets face it, there were other synth pop artists who were knocking around at the time, none of them over achievers including Ultravox, The Human League, and John Foxx. There’s an argument that Numan laid the path for these bands to come through?

  3. And by the same token, Numan paid his dues. Through him so many of us then found Kraftwerk and Eno and other pioneering electronic artists, contextualising the sounds and analogue equipment that formed Numan’s bleak soundscapes. Not simply pop tunes, but mini movies with atmospheric soundtracks, to take you places that guitar bass and drum weren’t able to go.

    • Exactly Kenny. I have to confess that at times Numan hasn’t helped his cause with some preposterous records later in his career ( and liaisons, remember that record with the bloke from Shakatak), but at the time there was something fresh and completely other worldly, and I always admire that he stuck to his principals amid towering criticism from NME, Sounds and Melody Maker.

      • Oh dear Hackskeptic.
        It’s time to confess.
        I bought every 45 and 33 he released. Even the multitudinous reissued repackaged versions of Cars, and every variation of Sharpe and Numan’s “Change Your Mind”
        I reckon the mid-80’s output, through Berserker, Warriors, and The Fury, I Assassin, etc., were a great body of work and I still love them as much as the Holy Trinity of Replicas, Pleasure Principle, and the absolute pinnacle, TELEKON.

        It’s a wonderful thing, being a fan.

  4. It is indeed, and great to see you’ve dedicated yourself. Would you consider yourself a Numanoid?

    That’s it!….Bill Sharpe. I always remember a two word review for a Shakatak album in NME in about 1984. It simply read….

    “Shakatak Lakatak”

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