Dance (Gary Numan album)

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Numan dance.jpg
Studio album by
Released4 September 1981
RecordedJune–July 1981
StudioRock City Studios, Shepperton
GenreExperimental music, new wave, ambient, jazz fusion, synth-pop
LabelBeggars Banquet
ProducerGary Numan
Gary Numan chronology
I, Assassin
Singles from Dance
  1. "She's Got Claws"
    Released: 29 August 1981
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2/5 stars [1]
Release Magazine6/10 stars[2]
Smash Hits9/10[3]

Dance is the third solo studio album by English musician Gary Numan, released in 1981. It was the first studio album Numan released after his "Farewell Concerts" staged at Wembley Arena (although Numan would return to performing live shows in 1982).

Dance features the UK Top 10 single "She's Got Claws"; the album itself reached #3 on the UK charts.


With synth pop music in the mainstream by 1981, Numan made a conscious effort to craft a more sombre, personal, and musically experimental album, in a jazzier vein than its predecessors; the album's title is somewhat ironic, as Dance was the least danceable album Numan had made at that point. (Numan wrote and recorded a song titled "Dance", but it was not included on the original album, and was released years later as a CD bonus track.)

The album's sound constitutes a significant change in style from the heavy analogue synth arrangements of Numan's earlier hit releases. Side One of the album consists of four long, sparse, slow-tempo minimalist songs, with the rhythm tracks based largely around muted drum machine patterns; the style is not dissimilar to some of the more ambient work by Brian Eno, particularly his solo album Another Green World and collaborations with David Bowie on Low and "Heroes", and tracks by the band Japan such as '"The Tenant" and "Despair". Side Two of the album contains shorter, more conventional songs. One of these, "Moral", is a contrafactum, adapting the tune from Numan's 1979 song "Metal", changing its lyrics into an attack on the New Romantic movement.[4]

Numan's commercial success by this period enabled him to enlist several guest musicians to perform on the album, including guitarist Rob Dean and (fretless) bassist/saxophonist Mick Karn of Japan, drummer Roger Taylor of Queen, keyboardist Roger Mason of Australian band Models, and Canadian alternative musician Nash the Slash (who had performed live with Numan in 1980 and 1981).

Lyrically, the songs deal largely with tragic sexual relationships, examined in a manner similar to the often bleak and alienating relationships between people and technology that informed earlier songs such as "Down in the Park" and "Are 'Friends' Electric?". The opening track "Slowcar to China" is a nine-minute opus about a prostitute. "Night Talk" is about a man dealing with a lover who is a drug addict (co-written with close friend and former bass-player, Paul Gardiner, himself a heroin addict). "Cry the Clock Said" is a nearly ten-minute ballad about a breakup. The salsa-flavoured "She's Got Claws" is about a predatory woman, written as an embittered response to an ex-girlfriend who sold the story of their relationship to the tabloids; the melancholic "Stories" describes an accidental café reunion between a woman and her son by a failed relationship.


Reaction to the album was mixed, some critics applauding what they saw as a less commercial career move and others viewing the change of pace with cynicism. A few years after Dance's release Numan conceded, "if I was supposed to be a pop star doing music for the masses, it probably wasn't the right thing to do", but he praised the standard of playing on it.[5] "She's Got Claws" was the album's sole single release, making number 6 in the UK charts, whilst the album itself peaked at number 3. It was Numan's first album to miss the number 1 spot since Tubeway Army's debut album in 1978, dropping out of the charts after 8 weeks.


Numan very rarely performs any music from the album in concert; however live recordings and visual footage of "She's Got Claws", "Cry the Clock Said" and "Moral" ("Metal") appear on Numan's video/DVD Micromusic and album Living Ornaments '81, taken when they were previewed prior to the release of Dance at his Wembley 'farewell' concerts in April 1981. An early live recording of "Stories" also came to light in 2005 when Beggars Banquet released the expanded Living Ornaments '80 album on CD. Numan performed "Crash" and "Boys Like Me" during club dates in the US in 1982 but they have not been officially released, while "Night Talk" was performed live in 2004 to mark the 20th anniversary of Paul Gardiner's death, Numan's longtime bassist and co-writer of the track.

On his website on 30 March 2010, Numan mentioned that "Crash" was one of the songs rehearsed for his set at the Manchester and London "Back to the Phuture" shows.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Gary Numan, except "Night Talk" and "Stormtrooper in Drag", co-written with Paul Gardiner.

1."Slowcar to China"9:05
2."Night Talk"4:26
3."A Subway Called 'You'"4:38
4."Cry, the Clock Said"9:56
5."She's Got Claws"4:58
7."Boys Like Me"4:16
9."My Brother's Time"4:38
10."You Are, You Are"4:03
  • Previous CD releases of Dance (Japan in 1990, and the UK in 1993) included "Love Needs No Disguise", Numan's 1981 single with Dramatis, as a bonus track. The track was subsequently replaced by its B-side, "Face to Face", for the subsequent edition of Dance, although "Love Needs No Disguise" would be included on the 1996 Numan compilation, The Premier Hits.

On 19 January 2018, Beggars Arkive released Dance as a vinyl double-album, with the following track listing:

1."Slowcar to China"9:05
2."Night Talk"4:26
3."A Subway Called 'You'"4:36
4."Cry, the Clock Said"9:54
5."She's Got Claws"4:59
7."Boys Like Me"4:14
9."My Brother's Time"4:35
10."You Are, You Are"4:00
11."Moral (extended version, previously unreleased)"5:41
12."Stormtrooper in Drag"4:57
13."Face to Face"3:45
16."I Sing Rain"2:29
  • The only previously-unreleased track in the 2018 edition of Dance is the extended version of "Moral," which is over a minute longer than the version in the original album. The 2018 edition of Dance otherwise replicates the track listing of the standard CD edition.



  1. ^ Bush, John. Dance at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  2. ^ Huss, Mattias (24 November 1999). "Gary Numan: Dance - Release On Line review". Release Magazine. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Black, Johnny (17 September 1981). "Album Reviews (Gary Numan - "Dance")". Smash Hits. Vol. 3 no. 19. EMAP Metro. p. 29.
  4. ^ Lyrics: "These New Romantics are oh so boring, I could swear I've been there once or twice before, I should grow wings and just forget the club, You know the legends never wanted to be me."
  5. ^ Stephen Webbon & Gary Numan (1985). "Complete Gary Numan UK Discography". Record Collector (December 1985, No. 76): p.16


  • Paul Goodwin (2004). Electric Pioneer: An Armchair Guide To Gary Numan
  • Allmusic