Strange Charm

Strange Charm

Infobox Album
Name = Strange Charm
Type = Album
Artist = Gary Numan

Released = November 1986
Recorded = 1986 at Rock City Sound Studios, London
Genre = Electronic music, New Wave, Dark Wave, industrial music, synthpop
Length = 73:48
Label = Numa
Producer = Gary Numan, The Wave Team, Ade Orange, Bill Sharpe, Nick Smith
Reviews =
*Allmusic Rating|3|5 [ link]
Last album = "The Fury"
This album = "Strange Charm"
Next album = "Metal Rhythm"
Misc = Extra album cover 2
Upper caption = Alternate cover
Type = Album

Lower caption = 1999 UK reissue cover

"Strange Charm" is the tenth studio album, and eighth under his own name, by electronic music pioneer Gary Numan, released in 1986 through by Numa Records. The album was not released in the United States until 1999 when it was issued in a digitally remastered form with five bonus tracks by Cleopatra Records. On the same year it was also reissued with bonus tracks in the United Kingdom by Eagle Records.

The album's title is derived from concepts of particle physics, specifically the strange quark and the charm quark.


"Strange Charm" was Numan's penultimate solo album of the 1980s, and the last studio album released on his self-funded Numa Records label before he signed a contract with IRS Records (he would later release two more albums on Numa in the 1990s). Unlike most of his previous albums, "Strange Charm" is a fragmented release with no obvious theme on it, either musically or lyrically. Numan admitted that the album was disjointed, concerned more with atmosphere than theme. The majority of the album was produced by The Wave Team, who had produced most of Numan's previous offering, "The Fury", and continued in a style similar to the previous album (with liberal use of saxophone and female backing-vocals). However, the album's stand-out tracks, "My Breathing" and "New Thing from London Town", were produced by Ade Orange and Bill Sharpe & Nick Smith, respectively, and offer a departure from the industrial sound of the rest of the album into quite different atmospheres. "New Thing from London Town" was a re-recorded version of the single released by Numan and Bill Sharpe (under the name Sharpe + Numan) a month before the release of "Strange Charm". The "Strange Charm" version of the song retains the original music, but features new lyrics written and sung by Numan (the lyrics on the single version were written by Roger Odell). Elsewhere, the songs on "Strange Charm" range from radio-friendly pop ("The Sleeproom", "I Can't Stop") to slow-burning ballads ("This is Love"), to fast-paced, energetic synth-rock (the title track).

By the time of "Strange Charm"'s recording, Numan had found himself more and more alienated from the mainstream of British pop music, while most of the money he had made during the early part of his career had now been consumed by his costly self-funded record label. Numan later recollected that the studio atmosphere was tense:

Not only did Numan find it very difficult to create the kind of sound that he wanted for "Strange Charm", but the protracted recording sessions resulted in the album being recorded in its entirety twice, diluting Numan's enthusiasm for the finished product. "Strange Charm" was finally released in late 1986, many months after singles from the album had been released. "This is Love" was released in April and reached UK#28; "I Can't Stop" was released in June and reached UK#27, and the original version of "New Thing from London Town" was released in October and reached UK#52. No singles were taken from "Strange Charm" after the album's release in November. The only single Numan released that month was "I Still Remember", a remake of a song from Numan's 1985 album "The Fury". Released as a charity single for the RSPCA, "I Still Remember" reached #74 on the UK charts. The "Strange Charm" album itself peaked at #59 on the UK album chart, and spent only two weeks in the top 75.

For the visual look of "Strange Charm", Numan abandoned the white suit-clad persona of "The Fury" and instead dyed his hair blond (again) and wrapped himself in a "Blade Runner"-style long leather jacket and sunglasses. "Blade Runner" was also the influence for one the B-sides of the album "Time to Die", which takes its title and most of its lyrical content from the Roy Batty's dying speech during the climax scene of the movie. "Strange Charm" is the third of five Numan albums to feature saxophonist Dick Morrissey, who performed on the "Blade Runner" film score. Vocal samples from the movie can be heard on Numan's albums "The Fury" (1985) and "Outland" (1991). Numan has referred to "Blade Runner" as "one of my all-time favourite films." ["Praying to the Aliens: An Autobiography" by Gary Numan with Steve Malins. (1997, André Deutsch Limited), p.210]

Numan did not support "Strange Charm" with a live tour (making it his first studio album since 1981's "Dance" not to be supported by a concert tour). However, Numan embarked on the 18-date "Exhibition Tour" in September 1987 to promote the compilation album "Exhibition". A live album, "Ghost", was culled from the final two shows of the tour (25-26 September 1987) and released in March 1988. "Ghost" features live versions of several "Strange Charm" tracks.

Different releases

"Strange Charm" was originally only released in the UK. The original cassette release featured "Time to Die" as an extra track at the end of Side 1.

In 1999 the album was reissued in the UK by Eagle Records in remastered form, with five tracks originally released as B-sides as bonus tracks (including "Time to Die"), new artwork and liner notes. In the same year it was also released in the U.S. by Cleopatra Records, who dropped two of the instrumental bonus tracks of the UK reissue in favour of the extended mixes of "New Thing from London Town" and "I Can't Stop". Additionally the U.S. release used a modified version of the original cover and did not feature liner notes.

Track listing

All tracks are written by Gary Numan, except for "New Thing From London Town", which has music by Bill Sharpe and lyrics by Numan.

#"My Breathing" - 6:36
#"Unknown And Hostile" - 4:27
#"The Sleeproom" - 5:16
#"New Thing From London Town" - 5:53
#"I Can't Stop" - 5:45
#"Strange Charm" - 5:00
#"The Need" - 7:04
#"This Is Love" - 4:30

* The original cassette release included "Time to Die" as an extra track on side 1, after "New Thing from London Town".

Bonus Tracks on the 1999 UK reissue

#"Survival" - 5:09
#"Faces" - 4:51
#"Time To Die" - 4:16
#"River" - 3:29
#"Mistasax (2)" - 3:06

* "River" and "Mistasax (2)" are Numan solo tracks that were used as B-sides to the Radio Heart singles "All Across the Nation" and "Radio Heart" respectively.

Bonus tracks on the 1999 U.S. reissue

#"New Thing From London Town" (12" Version) - 7:57
#"Time To Die" - 4:19
#"I Can't Stop" (10" Version) - 6:38
#"Faces" - 4:54
#"Survival" - 5:12

* "New Thing From London Town" is the 12" mix of the Sharpe + Numan single version, with lyrics written by Roger Odell instead of Numan. The original 7" mix has only ever been re-released on the 1999 Numan compilation album, "New Dreams For Old: 1984-1998", and was transferred from a vinyl copy because the original master-tape of the song had been lost.


*Gary Numan - vocals, keyboards, guitar, audio mixing, producer
*Tessa Niles - backing vocals
*Mike Smith - keyboards
*Dick Morrissey - saxophone
*Martin Elliott - bass
*Rrussell Bell - guitar, backing vocals
*Ade Orange - guitar, keyboards, producer
*Chris Payne - violin
*Ian Herron - drum machine programming
*Roger Odelle - drum programming
*Bill Sharpe - keyboards, producer
*Linda Taylor - backing vocals
*Mark Railton - guitar
*Tim Summerhayes - audio mixing
*Arun Chekraverty - audio mastering
*Jeff Hanen - audio mastering
*Patti Burris - make-up
*Lewis Ziolek - photography
*The Wave Team - producer


* []
* [ Jonas Wårstad's Gary Numan discography]

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