The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Buggles

Another blog live & direct, without the aid of forethought or proofreading! Today's blog is at the request of Mr. Chas M.

This is what I call a "Trophy Album". I certainly didn't know it at the time. I hadn't cared much for "Video Killed The Radio Star" - but I *loved* "Living In The Plastic Age". I am fortunate; I was going to Europe when this album came out, so I was able to find many 7" and 12" variants of some of the songs. How about that long "Clean Clean"? Let's see what else I can squeeze out of my mental musical locker...

Trevor Horn - something to do with UK soul singer Tina Charles? Bruce Wooley, Thomas Dolby - not exactly what I'd call "angry young men", but...certainly a 'camera club' that weren't going to settle for "moustache rock" (as the folks at amoeba Music in San Francisco call 70's rock). I love the 'historical' sideline about "Video Killer The Radio Star" being the first music video played on MTV. What? You mean they used to play music videos on MTV? Toshi of The Plastics (who were also signed by Island Records in England) told me that "Chris Blackwell knew that MTV was coming, so Island artists in 1979/80/81 were encouraged by the company to make videos, the company would pay for the videos to be made". MTV or not, it seems like nice "production" music videos were being made in England before the U.S. - lucky Buggles, a supportive label, a place to have their video shown, and a whole damned (new) wave to ride.

I bought the LP of this in England - unlike the US edition, it had a neat inner-sleeve, where Trevor Horn told you exactly what was recorded on each of the analogue 24 tracks. Later, I got a Japanese EMI/Toshiba/Island copy, and the inner-sleeve was re-produced, but as a booklet - yeah! And that's a damn fine sounding LP, just clean and quiet as a whistle, the Toshiba pressing.

Then there's the "Yes debacle" - Horn's to produce Yes - "But when do I get to meet Jon Anderson?" - then Bruce Wooley's album comes out - then The Buggles ain't going to tour. Then the label drops 'em. Drops them? Why Isn't there a 2nd Island Buggles album for us to love? They went through the motions with "Adventures in Modern Recording", but..."The Plastic Age" is the album for the age.

I have about a dozen cool 45's of The Buggles - when I posted them on Flickr, they doz dozens of "looks" and comments, and several of the sleeves were voted "favorite" by people that I don't know. A few years back, I got the honor of buying the CD a 2nd time - they added a song or two, and (presumably) made the thing louder and gave it a clear tray.

Very interesting - that 2CD "Tribute to Trevor Horn" British thing that came out a while back - he must not've been disappointed in the relative failure of The Buggles - enough of the stuff he produced in that era really caught it's zeitgeist (ABC, FGTH - acronym bands! etc). Nobody ever talks about Horn's production of Philip Jap or Inga Rumpf.

Chas says "every song is a classic" - and I agree. Very hard to dislike anything at all about this album. Nice solid bass playing, good vocals, snappy production (female vocalists etc). The songs are the stars - I even knew what Elstree was (as I'd accidentally walked right past it, on a visit to London). 25+ years hence, I can even see a tiny little link to M / Robin Scott, another participant in the UK production new wave experience.

I love that Yes got to play a Buggles song or two. For a band (Buggles) ostensibly trying to escape the "70's rock" pantheon...I wonder if they're still friendly? I am going to go out on a limb and say that Trevor Horn did eventually get to meet Jon Anderson. I am always tempted (but have never acted on it), to take my LP of Yes' "Drama" and ask Jon Anderson to autograph it for me. Anderson recently played in a small (and I mean small) bar / club near San Luis Obispo, and I could've done so. Just to be a bone-head.

Too bad there was never a Trevor Horn solo album. He certainly would've known who to get as his backing band (Blockheads, are you FGTH listening?)

All hail The Buggles and their debut album!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Higelin, Lard Free, Peter Green "End of the Game" and/or FM "Then Play On," Le Orme, Plastics, Comus, Amon Duul "Yeti," Mike Heron . . .


5:53 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

Will do, JB. Gimme a few days. Specific albums OK, or artist over-views?

6:29 AM  

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