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Berserker:Gary Numan

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Berserker is the eighth studio album, and sixth under his own name, by musician Gary Numan, released in 1984. It was his first album to be released under Numan's own record label, Numa Records.


 [hide*1 Overview


Numan's contract with his previous record label Beggars Banquet had ended with the release of Warriors, and disillusioned with record companies, Numan decided to create his own record label, Numa Records, in order to give himself full control over his recordings, production work and marketing.

Freed from demands of an outside record company, Numan could take the music on his new album into a new and harder direction. The album was named after a series of science-fiction novels by Fred Saberhagen, which Numan had read at school.[2] For the album itself, Numan was concerned with creating a distinct atmosphere:

The Berserker album doesn't have a central character or a story as such. I was writing about being something, or part of something, fictional. Something that was dreadful, powerful, unstoppable. Something almost alien from what you're used to which is coming your way. I was trying to create a feeling of only half-guessed-at menace. The songs had bits which were specific to me but they were mostly weird fictional stuff about being cold, playing games with people, using people in very unpleasant ways, without every saying what they were, exactly.[3]

Berserker was far removed from the electro-funk stylings of Warriors (and, indeed, the fluid, fretless bass stylings of Numan's previous three albums), instead presenting a more hard rock-like sound, combined with an abundant use of samplingHeavy-metal-like riffs and guitar sounds were a lot more aggressive than on the preceding albums, and the electric bass contrasted with the heavy guitar sound. Numan also decided to use sound as a percussion, in lieu of conventional percussive instruments. The distinctive sound of the PPG Wave synthesiser was introduced on this album, developing memorable synth riffs; the dream-like female backing vocals were still fully embraced from Warriors. Saxophones were infrequently used on the album, along with the viola that had last been featured on Telekon. Lyrically, the album has a haunting, oppressive theme with several references to God throughout. The poignant track "A Child with the Ghost" was Numan's tribute to his friend and former bassist Paul Gardiner, who died in February 1984 from a deliberate heroin overdose. The Industrialundertones of the album would be more fully explored on Numan's follow-up album, The Fury (1985).

For the visual look of the new album, Numan wanted something completely different from the black jumpsuits, grey coats, and black leather that had formed his visual look up until that that point. Instead he appeared on the cover of the new album (and during the subsequent tour) as a white-skinned, white-clad "Iceman" with blue makeup and hair, resulting in one of the most striking looks of his career.

The title track was released as a single in October 1984, a month ahead of the album, but it only made it to #32 on the UK charts, making it his worst-charting single yet alongside "Sister Surprise" from the preceding album Warriors. The album itself was released in November 1984, but only managed a lowly #45 in the UK charts, making it both Numan's lowest-charting album by that point and his first album to miss the UK top 30. In chart terms, Berserker was outperformed by The Plan, an album of early Numan material released by his former record label Beggars Banquet in September 1984 that reached #29. "My Dying Machine" was released as the second and final single off Berserker in December of the same year and peaked at #66.

Different releases[edit]Edit

The album was originally released in two different-length versions in the UK. The CD and cassette releases featured longer versions of all tracks, while the LP features shorter mixes.[4]

The album was not released in the United States until 1998 when Cleopatra Records issued all Numa Records-era Numan albums with altered artworks and additional bonus tracks. The Berserker reissue featured four bonus tracks, including extended mixes of the title track and "My Dying Machine". The artwork used a different typeface from the original and the colours were slightly more purple-tinted than on the original. The rear artwork uses a unique composite from the original Numa CD (first issue). The booklet contains the lyrics together with live photos (also on the inner tray) taken in the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1984.

In 1999 the album was reissued in the UK by Eagle Records. This version maintained the original artwork but added five B-sides and outtakes as bonus tracks, and unlike the U.S. reissue, it included liner notes.

The Berserker Tour[edit]Edit

Numan's 19-date UK Berserker Tour of November–December 1984 featured a stylized "high-tech Roman temple" stage set to complement Numan's white leather jacket/white make-up/blue-hair look. The tour spawned a double-album, White Noise, recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon in December 1984. The same concert was captured (albeit in edited form) on the video The Berserker Tour; both the album and the video were released in 1985. In early 2008, the video of the entire concert was released for the first time, on the DVD Cold Warning. The DVD contains, as an extra feature, a 2007 interview in which Numan discusses his recollections of the Berserker album and tour. Numan mentions that Berserker was influenced by Trevor Horn's production work with Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and claims that distribution problems and a lack of media airplay contributed to its disappointing sales.

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written by Gary Numan.

All timings are approximate and will vary slightly with different equipment.

1984 Numa vinyl release (NUMA 1001)[edit]Edit

  1. "Berserker" - 5:52
  2. "This is New Love" - 6:19
  3. "The Secret" – 5:55
  4. "My Dying Machine" - 5:37
  5. "Cold Warning" - 6:01
  6. "Pump it Up" - 4:45
  7. "The God Film" - 4:42
  8. "A Child with The Ghost" - 4:04
  9. "The Hunter" - 4:32

1991 Numa CD reissues (NUMACD 1001)[edit]Edit

  1. "Berserker" - 6:46
  2. "This Is New Love" - 8.48
  3. "The Secret" - 6:45
  4. "My Dying Machine" - 9:23
  5. "Cold Warning" - 7:03
  6. "Pump It Up" - 4:51
  7. "The God Film" - 4:44
  8. "A Child With The Ghost" - 4:04
  9. "The Hunter" - 6:48
  • Original copies have no barcode and the CD printing is in blue. The second NUMA reissue is barcoded, has a different rear picture sleeve and the CD printing is in black. The catologue numbers are identical.

1999 Cleopatra U.S. CD reissue (CLP 0536-2)[edit]Edit

  1. "Berserker" - 5:52
  2. "This Is New Love" - 6:19
  3. "The Secret" - 5:55
  4. "My Dying Machine" - 5:37
  5. "Cold Warning" - 6:01
  6. "Pump It Up" - 4:45
  7. "The God Film" - 4:42
  8. "A Child With The Ghost" - 4:04
  9. "The Hunter" - 4:32
  10. "Berserker (Extended)" - 6:46
  11. "Empty Bed, Empty Heart" - 3:12
  12. "My Dying Machine (Extended)" - 9:23
  13. "Here Am I" - 5:46

1999 Eagle Records UK CD reissue (EAMCD072)[edit]Edit

  1. "Berserker" - 5:52
  2. "This Is New Love" - 6:19
  3. "The Secret" - 5:55
  4. "My Dying Machine" - 5:37
  5. "Cold Warning" - 6:01
  6. "Pump It Up" - 4:45
  7. "The God Film" - 4:42
  8. "A Child With The Ghost" - 4:04
  9. "The Hunter" - 4:32
  10. "Empty Bed, Empty Heart" - 3:12
  11. "Here Am I" - 5:46
  12. "She Cries" - 6:01
  13. "Rumour" - 2:50
  14. "This Ship Comes Apart" - 4:01
  • "Rumour", although a Numan solo track for the Berserker sessions, was also the B-side to the London Times single with Radio Heart in 1987.[5]
  • "She Cries", a B-side on the "My Dying Machine" single, was a remixed demo from the I, Assassin album sessions.
  • "A Child With The Ghost" was also recorded by Tik and Tok, appearing on their 'Intolerance' album.[6]
  • "Pump It Up" was also recorded by Caroline Munro as "Pump Me Up" and released as a single on Gary's Numa label.[7]


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