In January 1982, Gary Numan started work on the follow-up to 1981’s Dance album. It had only been 9 months since his “retirement” from touring.
Numan had had time to reconsider this brash, youthful announcement & his desire to be a performer to an adoring public had led to a re-evaluation of who he was & who he wanted to be.
Numan entered Rock City Studios with the intention of creating a more up-tempo successor to the Dance album. He wanted to record tracks that could be reproduced in a live context with maximum bums off seats, dancing in the aisles potential.
Given the huge finale of the last “Numan” band, it was time to explore different avenues. Numan recruited new musicians from quite alien sources:
his powerful new drummer would be Chris Slade who’d recently been tub-thumping on the Uriah Heep reunion gigs.
The new bassist was Pino Palladino, his previous claim to fame was supplying some amazing fretless slide work in Paul Young’s Royal Family backing band.
Paul Young was famous for being the only unsigned act to be shown two weeks in a row on Channel 4’s new music programme “The Tube”, there were two contributing factors: 1) Pino’s bass playing.
2) The fact that his backing vocalists, The Fabulous Wealthy Tarts, wore tight t-shirts & no bras!
Out of the “old” live band, Joe Brown look-alike Roger Mason was the only survivor!
Numan recruited his brother, John Webb, on keyboards & the elusive “Mike” on sax & harmonica.
Numan has since stated that working with Palladino brought out a creative high in him. Pino’s fluid playing, whilst reminiscent of Mick Karn’s Dance work, was more controlled & melodic. His bass lines were pushed to the fore & worked in conjunction with a heady mix of Slade’s thunderous drumming & heavy electronic percussion. Peppered into the mix were detuned bell chimes & heavy metallic clanks. It’s easy to look back & say that Numan was using pre-sets from new-fangled synth technology but hey, he had the money to buy them & be first off the starting block!
When Mick Karn first heard Chameleons, he thought it was an unused Dance track.. He announced on a radio interview that he couldn’t believe that Numan had hired a bassist just to sound like him.. I’d like to throw my hat into the ring & postulate that Karn could not have played Chameleons with the reserve & unswerving attention to detail that Palladino displays on the track!