Buggles
Albums

  • The Age Of Plastic,
  • Adventures In Modern Recording,








  • adriandenning.co.uk
    album reviews

    Buggles

    The Age Of Plastic 8 ( 1980 )
    Living In The Plastic Age / Video Killed The Radio Star / Kid Dynamo / I Love You ( Miss Robot ) / Clean, Clean / Elstree / Astroboy ( And The Proles On Parade ) / Johnny On The Monorail

    Here we have the dawn of the nineteen eighties. 'Video Killed The Radio Star' was the first video played on MTV if my understanding is correct. The age of plastic was dawning, The Buggles were riding high in the charts before leaving The Buggles to become a part of 'Yes'. Of all the things..... Anyways! Lets not talk about that, lets talk about this. Video didn't of course kill the radio star. It just created a new kind of photogenic, slim pretty boy kind of star. Not that either of The Buggles were pretty. Trevor Horn, The Buggles main creative force, certainly wasn't pretty. It didn't matter. He went onto become a much sought after producer throughout the eighties. His sound almost came to define the decade. You know the sound I'm talking about. Listen to ABC's 'Lexicon Of Love' album. Besides being great, it showcases the Trevor Horn eighties to great effect. The truly marvellous 'Living In The Plastic Age' which opens this record nods to glam rock, but glam rock wrapped in a futuristic keyboard sheen amid much subtle special effect applying. The song sticks in your mind, in any case. It's the melody that gets to you, and it's a good one. A keeper this, definately. Following the pop nous of 'Video Killed The Radio Star' comes 'Kid Dynamo'. It sounds strange indeed but still vaguely reminiscent of Glam Rock and Rock Opera whatever the instrumentation. Speaking of which, it's actually fairly straight rock instrumentation here, for this song at least. It's not much of a song sadly, though the chorus is catchy enough. A switch to a mellower mood for 'I Love You ( Miss Robot )'. Musn't forget the 'Miss Robot' part of the title. Oh no!

    'Clean, Clean' sounds interesting. A nice driving song with a naggingly addictive melody running through it. Was this a single as well? I'm not sure if it was or not. It may have been. Whatever, it's damn fine. 'Elstree' is a touch of genuis. The tasty and spooky sounding keyboards wrapping themselves around The Buggles ode to the BBC's Elstree television and film studios. It screams early 80's now of course, but it's still a great tune and the most 'romantic' song here. I'm not sure it is romantic actually..... just something to do with the backing vocals and those keyboards. Maybe just something to do with the fact I grew up in the 80's. Ah, I remember it well! I mentioned earlier that Mr Horn and Mr Downes ( 'The Buggles'! ) went off and joined Prog group Yes. 'Astroboy' is possibly the reason Yes were attracted. Completely daft lyrics! Beautiful little Piano parts! Ominous sounding keyboards! It's all here, present and correct. The closing 'Johnny And The Monorail' although employing the then 'futuristic' sound and production The Buggles showcased to good effect also joins 'Astroboy' in being a more ambitious piece of work in terms of structure. And, it's ok. The album is ok. It's completely daft of course, but some of the melodies here really are worth seeking this album out for.

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    Readers Comments

    Nick Davies nick@wombat69.demon.co.uk
    Clean Clean was definatly a single as I bought it as well as Video and Living in the plastic age.

    ie.dunster@ukonline.co.uk
    'Elstree' was also a UK single (Nov 1980), released after 'Clean clean' (Apr 1980).

    ie.dunster@ukonline.co.uk
    I forgot to mention that 'The Buggles'were a 'Technopop' band-they even did a track of the same name. Other Technopop bands were 'YMO'-(Yellow Magic Orchestra)and 'M'-('Pop Musik')

    ie.dunster@ukonline.co.uk
    Sorry Adrian, I forgot to mention 'New Musik', (Tony Mansfield) who were another excellent Technopop band!

    mango182894@msn.com
    the album is amazing elstree is amazing the only problem is i'm 15 and no ones heard of them! its a shame proper music ended before i was born!

    Paul H. heydt3@yahoo.com
    As a huge fan of the work of both Horn and Downes, I am still amazed to this day of the quality and depth of their work together. All one has to do is listen to "Elstree" to figure out what I'm talking about. While bands like the Human League and OMD were cranking out some pretty amazing tunes on their own, there was always something stratospheric about the Buggles. They took pop music to the next level, which is demonstrated in the keyboard solos and riffs over the next couple of years with Downes and the complex production arrangements of Horn. Any serious listener of modern music needs to give this whole album a spin to see one of the overlooked segments of the musical experience.


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    Adventures In Modern Recording( 1982 )
    Adventures in Modern Recording / Beatnik / Vermilion Sands / I Am a Camera / On TV / Inner City / Lenny / Rainbow Warrior / Adventures in Modern Recording (Reprise)

    Mostly a Trevor Horn solo project this, second Buggle Geoffrey Downes appears on only three tracks. Still, the time these guys had spent in Yes has permeated its way through this follow-up to 'The Age Of Plastic' to the point where this is virtually unrecognizable as the same group. Everything is a tad more serious here, the production is certainly more lavish although really, it's at the expensive of the melodies. Trevor Horn would soon give up singing altogether to concentrate on outside production duties, enjoying huge success whilst he was at it, by the way. 'Adventures In Modern Recording' was nowhere as sucessful as 'The Age Of Plastic', lacked a hit single and pretty much sank without trace. It deserved a better fate than that. The opening title song is recognizably 'Buggles', one of the few songs here that is, actually. It's catchy and electro, rather fun! 'Beatnik' is moving into the 'murky' waters of progressive rock, however. This could pass easily for a Yes song of the period. The lyrics are irritating as hell, but the vocal inflextions, washes of keyboards point towards the time Horn and Downes had spent in the Yes line-up. 'Vermillion Sands' is mellow, well produced, bland..... 'I Am A Camera' will be known to Yes fans as 'Into The Lens', although this is a different recording of the song. It's strange, this is easily more Buggles than anything resembling Yes! Well, it's a blend that falls the side of Buggles. It's a pretty decent song, actually. 'On TV' is a demonstration of Trevor Horns rapidly advancing production skills, sounds like it was recorded ten years after 'The Age Of Plastic' rather than just a couple of years. Sadly, it's no kind of song, which really just reflects Horns changing interests and priorities at the time.

    'Inner City' screams out mid-eighties, which is impressive, because it was recorded in 1982, not 1985. Trevor Horn pioneered many Eighties production sounds and techniques which were widely copied. One listen to 'Inner City' which is as bland a song as anyone can imagine tells you why he switched to focus on production! The production here is great, by the way. Oh, and yeah. None of the vocals on 'The Age Of Plastic' remotely resembled regular Yes frontman Jon Anderson. Half of the vocals on this album resemble Jon Anderson! Trevor had only spent a brief time as part of the Yes line-up, but he'd obviously taken that role very seriously. 'Lenny' is more mellow-ness but this time includes a 'Buggles' chorus, albeit a relaxed 'Buggles' chorus. 'Rainbow Warrior' and the closing reprise of the title song are both entirely forgettable, and that's your lot. So sure, this is no kind of great album. It's not as bouncy and fun as the Buggles debut, lacks anything that even sounds like a hit single..... The transition was too soon, Trevor developed too quickly and soon out-grew the original Buggles format. But, having said all of that, this album at least deserves to be in print! It's avaliable as a Japanese import, but quite difficult to get hold of.

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    Readers Comments

    Derek DerekWarby@aol.com
    I was foolish not to by this album on vinyl when it was released. Then spent YEARS trying to find it. Eventually did and now it's re-released with bonus tracks! I disagree that it doesn't sound 'Buggles' it still has the wry humour of 'Plastic'. But I have always been puzzled by a couple of extraneous noises that appear near the end of a couple of the tracks. They sound like dodgy edits or bits of creased tape - surely not what Horn would have let slip through! A brilliant album. I love the near-pathos.

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    this page last updated 09/06/07



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