Down in the Park

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"Down in the Park"
Single by Tubeway Army
from the album Replicas
B-side "Do You Need the Service?"
Released 16 March 1979
Format 7"/12" single
Recorded Gooseberry Studios, London, January 1979
Genre Synthpop, new wave
Length 4:22
Label Beggars Banquet
BEG 17 (7") / BEG 17T (12")
Producer(s) Gary Numan
Tubeway Army singles chronology
"Bombers"
(1978)
"Down in the Park"
(1979)
"Are 'Friends' Electric?"
(1979)
Music sample

"Down in the Park" is a 1979 song by the English new wave band Tubeway Army. It was released as the first single from the band's second album Replicas, though was not a hit. The song was written and produced by the band's frontman Gary Numan, and despite its lack of commercial success, has been performed by Numan regularly in his live shows throughout the years.

Style[edit]

Like the Replicas album as a whole, "Down in the Park" marked a major shift from Tubeway Army's previous output. The band's early releases, the 1978 singles "That's Too Bad" and "Bombers" plus the self-titled debut album, contained elements of punk, hard rock, heavy metal and new wave but were exclusively guitar driven with only occasional use of primitive synthesizer effects. "Down in the Park", on the other hand, was Numan's first composition on keyboards and his first release to feature the predominantly electronic sound that became his trademark. Musically, it pared down still further the guitar power chord and bass root note style arrangements he had used previously, reducing the harmony to bare unisons of layered bass guitar, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and Minimoog synthesizer. The semitone key changes (A to Bb) and chromatic melodic riffs between the song's verses are somewhat unusual in the context of traditional Western music theory, although they are less unusual in rock music.[citation needed]

Lyrics[edit]

Lyrically the song crystallized the dystopian science fiction concept that was the basis of the Replicas album. Heavily influenced by such writers as J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick, it tells the story of a futuristic park in which Machmen (androids with human skin) and machines rape and kill human beings to entertain spectators who, along with their numerically-named robotic "friends" ("Down in the Park, with a friend called Five"), view the carnage from a nearby club ("Zom Zoms").[1][2][3]

Theme[edit]

The piece was typical of Numan's themes at the time, both embracing and fearing technology. In contrast to much contemporary post-punk music, and his own earlier releases, Numan's vocals were deliberately underplayed, leaving the slow and stately synthesizer work to evoke the song's melancholy atmosphere.

B-side[edit]

In what would become Numan's normal practice, the B-side was a non-album track, in this case "Do You Need the Service?"; the title referenced a line from the works of William S. Burroughs, the service in question meaning pest control. The 12" single included the same tracks as the 7" along with "I Nearly Married A Human (2)", a different mix to the version on Replicas this time featuring drum machine throughout and Numan's recitation of the song's title, the only words heard.

Cover versions[edit]

"Down in the Park" has been covered by a number of artists, notably Foo Fighters on The X-Files Songs in the Key of X soundtrack album (1996), Marilyn Manson on the "Lunchbox" and "Sweet Dreams" singles, DJ Hell (a 1998 techno version with lyrics translated in French entitled "Dans Le Parc"), Christian Death (a live performance on The Iron Mask), Girls Under Glass, and Jimi Tenor on the Numan tribute album Random. Terre Thaemlitz recorded two instrumental versions of "Down in the Park" on the tribute album Replicas Rubato, one on piano and the other on synthesizer (the latter a hidden track). Other tribute acts to have recorded the song include Bytet and Reload, on the albums Ghost of a White Face Clown and Tubeway Navy respectively.

Live performances[edit]

"Down in the Park" has been a mainstay of Numan's concerts since his 1979 tour, and appears on almost all of his live albums. An arrangement with solo piano introduction appeared on the Living Ornaments '80 LP, in the movie Urgh! A Music War, and in the Micromusic video concert from Wembley Arena (soundtrack released as Living Ornaments '81). A version for piano alone was the flip side of Numan's single "I Die: You Die" in 1980 (and was also included as a bonus track on the 1998 CD re-issue of Telekon). The original song was remixed twice for the 2003 collection Hybrid, and a demo version of the song was included on the soundtrack of the movie Times Square (1980).

Track listing[edit]

7" version:

  1. "Down in the Park" (Numan) - 4:22
  2. "Do You Need the Service?" (Numan) - 3:39

12" version:

  1. "Down in the Park" (Numan) - 4:22
  2. "Do You Need the Service?" (Numan) - 3:39
  3. "I Nearly Married a Human (2)" (Numan) - 6:38

Production credits[edit]

  • Producers:
    • Gary Numan

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Replicas remastered at beggars.com
  2. ^ Tim Lott (9 June 1979). "Confessions of an honest poseur". Record Mirror: p.26. 
  3. ^ In a 1995 webchat (http://webb.garynuman.info/confession/9511.html), Numan acknowledged that this name was inspired by "a Jobriath song" (presumably "Scumbag" from the Creatures of the Street album, in which "Zum Zum Zum Zum Zum Zum Zum restaurant" is mentioned).

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]