Is Gary Nu­man no longer elec­tric?

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Gary Nu­man is one of the most fa­mous creators of elec­tronic mu­sic. Since 1979, when his band Tube­way Army’s Are Friends Elec­tric? spent four weeks at No 1, he has been rou­tinely de­scribed as an “elec­tronic pioneer” and a Google search for “Nu­man elec­tronic” pro­duces 526,000 re­sults.

How­ever, this doesn’t sat­isfy US chart com­pany Bill­board, who have de­creed that his new al­bum, Sav­age (Songs From A Bro­ken World), does not qual­ify for their dance/elec­tronic chart, even though 95% of it was pro­duced by elec­tronic in­stru­ments. Ac­cord­ing to pro­ducer Ade Fen­ton, Sav­age’s 51 chan­nels of syn­the­sis­ers and elec­tronic drums make it the “most elec­tronic” of the four al­bums he and Nu­man have worked on. The al­bum’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion as rock/al­ter­na­tive means that Nu­man has missed out on an al­most cer­tain dance/elec­tronic No 1, in­stead hav­ing to set­tle for a rather more lowly rock/al­ter­na­tive No 22.

In an email, a Bill­board ex­ec­u­tive in­formed the Nu­man camp that the com­pany is try­ing to keep the dance/elec­tronic chart closer to the for­mer, so: “Son­i­cally, the Nu­man al­bum just does not fit in there.”

Equally, the email ex­plained that he isn’t the only elec­tronic artist who no longer qual­i­fies. The rock/al­ter­na­tive tag has been sim­i­larly ap­plied to other synth acts in­clud­ing Depeche Mode and LCD Soundsys­tem.

So what does an elec­tronic artist have to do to top the US dance/elec­tronic chart? Be elec­tronic dance mu­sic act Calvin Har­ris, sat at No 1, de­spite sell­ing less than Nu­man. “Sav­age is the most elec­tronic al­bum I’ve made since The Plea­sure Prin­ci­ple in 1979, which ar­guably kick­started the en­tire genre,” says Nu­man. “So to be ex­cluded is al­most un­be­liev­able.” Still, if he needs con­sol­ing, Sav­age en­tered the Bri­tish al­bum chart at No 2, his high­est new en­try for 38 years.

Dave Simp­son

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