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Studio album by
Released5 September 1980
StudioRock City Studios, Shepperton
Matrix Studios, London
GenreNew wave, electronic, synth-pop
LabelBeggars Banquet
ProducerGary Numan
Gary Numan chronology
The Pleasure Principle
Living Ornaments '79
Singles from Telekon
  1. "We Are Glass"
    Released: 24 May 1980
  2. "I Die: You Die"
    Released: 30 August 1980
  3. "This Wreckage"
    Released: 20 December 1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media8.6/10 stars[2]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[3]
Smash Hits7/10[4]
Spin8/10 stars[5]

Telekon is the second solo studio album by English musician Gary Numan. It debuted at the top of the UK Albums Chart in September 1980, making it his third consecutive (and to date, final) No. 1 album.

Telekon was also the third and final studio release of what Numan retrospectively termed the "machine" section of his career, following 1979's Replicas and The Pleasure Principle.[6]


In contrast to The Pleasure Principle, with its lack of guitars and its robotic sound, Telekon featured heavy use of guitars and strings along with richer synthesizer textures. Numan broadened his previous synth palette with additional machines such as the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, ARP Pro Soloist and Roland Jupiter-4.

"The Joy Circuit" used a combination of analogue synths with solo violin and viola, while its lyrics referenced William S. Burroughs, notably "We're on joy circuit/The image fix/Rewind, cry/Well, it's somewhere to go."

Lyrically, while continuing Numan's exploration of a dystopian future in pieces like the title track and "I Dream of Wires", Telekon also took stock of the artist's sudden celebrity and the apparently overwhelming adulation of his fans in songs like "Remind Me to Smile" ("Reconsider 'fame'/I need new reasons/This is detention/It's not fun at all...Keep your revivals/Keep your conventions/Keep all your fantasies/That's all we are") and "Please Push No More". The album's musical style ranged from upbeat songs such as "I'm an Agent" and "The Joy Circuit" to mood pieces like "Sleep by Windows" and "Remember I Was Vapour".

Like all of Numan's commercially popular early records, Telekon received a largely hostile reception from contemporary music critics; nevertheless it proved to be an influential work. Trent Reznor claimed to have listened to it every day during the making of Pretty Hate Machine and Stephin Merritt from The Magnetic Fields also became a Numan fan through the album.[7] Merritt recorded "I Die: You Die" as his contribution to the Random tribute album in 1997, which also included covers of "I'm an Agent", "Remember I Was Vapour" and "We Are Glass"; however the earliest cover of a song from this album, in the very year of its release, was by Robert Palmer, who collaborated with Numan on a version of "I Dream of Wires" for the Clues LP.


Telekon was preceded by two hit singles, "We Are Glass" and "I Die: You Die". Although neither of these was included on the album in its initial UK vinyl release, they featured on the cassette release (overseas releases in the US, Canada and Australia added "I Die: You Die" in place of "Sleep by Windows"). Early UK pressings came with a limited edition live 45, "Remember I Was Vapour" b/w "On Broadway", and all of these tracks, along with B-sides and the outtake "A Game Called Echo", were subsequently included on various CD reissues. Numan had premiered "Remember I Was Vapour" during the UK leg of 'The Touring Principle' in late 1979, preceding its appearance on Telekon by a year, he also premiered "We Are Glass", "I Die: You Die" and "Remind Me to Smile" during the April 1980 leg.

The only single taken from the album after its release was the opening number, "This Wreckage", which peaked at No. 20. Numan later admitted that, regardless of its merits as a song, it was a "bloody stupid single".[8] Surprisingly, Numan declined to issue "Remind Me to Smile" as a single (although it was released as a promo single in the US).

The Teletour[edit]

From late 1980 to early 1981, Numan toured the UK, Europe and North America in support of Telekon with guest Nash the Slash and a lavish stage set; Numan's stage costume - a black leather boilersuit with interlocking red belts - would be an enduring image. An early performance from 'The Teletour' was captured on the album Living Ornaments '80 and in a rendition of "Down in the Park" for the movie Urgh! A Music War (both 1981). The 2005 CD reissue of Living Ornaments '80 included the original 10-track album and a recently rediscovered soundboard recording of the entire concert; the Teletour was followed in April 1981 with three sold-out nights at Wembley Arena where Numan brought down the curtain on this phase of his career in extravagant style, as recorded in the accompanying video Micromusic (soundtrack released in 1998 as Living Ornaments '81). Although these were billed as Numan's farewell concerts, he would play a series of US club dates the following year and returned to large-scale touring in 1983.

Classic Album Tour and Micromusic DVD[edit]

In December 2006, Numan undertook a Telekon "Classic Album" tour, comprising four concerts in the UK in which he played all the songs from the Telekon album, as well as its associated singles and B-sides. On the 2CD EKO: The Telekon 06 Audio Programme (sold at the 2006 Telekon gigs and from Numan's website), Numan discussed (with interviewer Steve Malins) the making of Telekon, revealing that it is his favourite of his "early albums." Numan followed the 2006 tour with further "Classic Album" tours, for Replicas in 2008 and The Pleasure Principle in 2009.

In 2006, Numan promised fans a DVD release of the 1981 Micromusic video. On his official website in October 2008, Numan announced that the long-lost master tapes of the Micromusic concert had been found, "in excellent condition and, to make things even better, more footage has been found from two other camera positions that were not used on the original version; this new footage will be edited into a new updated version...We expect this to be, with all the extra footage and interviews, a double disc DVD." On 19 March 2010, Numan announced that the Micromusic DVD would be released on 13 April.[9] Micromusic was released on that date as a one-disc DVD; in addition to the concert itself, the DVD featured an hour-long interview with Numan as a special feature.

Cultural references[edit]

NME used the track title "I Dream of Wires" as the name for a fictitious synthpop act about which they published a series of spoof articles in early 1995, culminating in reports of the alleged band's death in a coach crash in Eastern Europe.[10]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Gary Numan except for "Trois Gymnopédies (First Movement)", which is a composition by Erik Satie.


Side one
1."This Wreckage"5:26
2."The Aircrash Bureau"5:41
4."Remind Me to Smile"4:03
5."Sleep by Windows" (replaced with "I Die: You Die" on overseas releases)4:58
Side two
6."I'm an Agent"4:19
7."I Dream of Wires"5:10
8."Remember I Was Vapour"5:11
9."Please Push No More"5:39
10."The Joy Circuit"5:12


Side one
1."This Wreckage"5:26
2."The Aircrash Bureau"5:41
4."Remind Me to Smile"4:03
5."Sleep by Windows"4:58
6."We Are Glass"4:47
Side two
7."I'm an Agent"4:19
8."I Dream of Wires"5:10
9."Remember I Was Vapour"5:11
10."Please Push No More"5:39
11."The Joy Circuit"5:12
12."I Die: You Die" 


1."This Wreckage"5:26
2."The Aircrash Bureau"5:41
4."Remind Me to Smile" (CD intro is different to vinyl one)4:03
5."Sleep By Windows"4:58
6."We Are Glass" (originally issued as a standalone single)4:47
7."I'm an Agent"4:19
8."I Dream of Wires"5:10
9."Remember I Was Vapour" (CD version of this track is different from the original vinyl version, which contains an additional synth melody)5:11
10."Please Push No More"5:39
11."The Joy Circuit"5:12
12."I Die: You Die" (Alternate Version)3:47

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
UK Albums Chart[11] 1
US Billboard 200[12] 64



  1. ^ Prato, Greg. Telekon at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  2. ^ Sandlin, Michael (31 December 1999). "Gary Numan:Telekon review". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  3. ^ Shewey, Don (2 April 1981). "Gary Numan : Telekon : Music review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 20 June 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  4. ^ Duff, Linda (18 September 1980). "Album Reviews". Smash Hits. London, England: EMAP. p. 35.
  5. ^ Spin Simon Price, September 1998, pp. 188-189
  6. ^ Gary Numan (1981). Living Ornaments '79/'80: LP liner notes
  7. ^ Steve Malins (2002). Exposure: The Best of Gary Numan: CD liner notes
  8. ^ Stephen Webbon & Gary Numan (1985). "Complete Gary Numan UK Discography". Record Collector (December 1985, No. 76): p.15
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Number 1 Albums – 1980s". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  12. ^ "Gary Numan Telekon Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 16 September 2018.


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