in drag

Stormtrooper in Drag

"Stormtrooper in Drag" is the debut single by Paul Gardiner, better known as the bass-player for Tubeway Army and Gary Numan. Though released under Gardiner's name alone in 1981, the song is often credited to Gary Numan, and appears on a number of his collections. Numan not only played on and produced the recording but also co-composed and sang lead vocals. It was published by Numan Music and released by Numan's then-current label, Beggars Banquet.

The track was the first product released by Numan, or any of the former members of his backing band, following his 'farewell' concerts at Wembley Arena in April 1981. It also marked the first time in their four years of working together that the friends and former Tubeway Army bandmates had collaborated in the writing of a published song. The result was a departure from the electropop sound that had been Numan's trademark, featuring a vocal performance and sonic textures that foreshadowed his next album, Dance. Gardiner and Numan were credited with guitar and bass, respectively, contrary to their usual practice; both also played synthesizers while Numan's half-brother, John Webb, played drums.

The B-side, "Night Talk", was another Gardiner/Numan co-composition which, unlike the A-side, would appear on Numan's September 1981 studio album, Dance. Whereas "Stormtrooper in Drag" featured conventional percussion, "Night Talk" made extensive use of a drum machine, the Linn LM-1. Both songs referenced drugs, the former describing "needles in arms", the latter concerning a man dealing with a lover who is an addict (Gardiner was himself a heroin user, while Numan always claimed abstinence from drugs).

The single made #49 in the UK charts in 1981. The 12" cut was a promo-only version on white vinyl; its tracks, their mixes and durations, were identical to the 7" single.

"Stormtrooper in Drag" is included on numerous Gary Numan albums including the CD reissue of Dance and the compilations Exhibition (1983) and Premier Hits (1996). A live version appears on his album Dark Light (1995); this was recorded in 1994, the tenth anniversary of Gardiner's death (Numan also played live the B-side, "Night Talk", as a 20th anniversary memorial in 2004). It was covered by Saint Etienne for the Numan tribute album Random (1997); this version also appeared on their album Continental. Terre Thaemlitz recorded a piano version on the tribute album Replicas Rubato (1999).

Track listing

  1. "Stormtrooper in Drag" (Paul Gardiner, Gary Numan) – 4:48
  2. "Night Talk" (Gardiner, Numan) – 4:19

Production credits


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