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The Age of Plastic
our score: 4.0 out of 5.0
In this age
of renewed interest in bringing elements of ambience, science
fiction and space age vision into rock and roll, one might expect
a rediscovery of the music that first tread upon those tracks.
So far, the Buggles have not benefited much from this, but through
no fault of their own, for their futuristic 1979 debut, still
very much in print, was light years ahead of its time.
were Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, two legendary studio noodlers
and video pioneers of the '70s and '80s, who went on to join Yes
for one album and later form Asia. One can't help but be skeptical
about the ability of two future members of Asia to make a landmark
new wave album, but it was precisely their penchant for overproduction
that set the first Buggles album apart from the other British
and German boys with weird hair trying both to capitalize on the
sci-fi renaissance that was happening at the time ("Star Wars,"
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind") and to sound hipper than
E.L.O. Horn and Downes left no stone unturned, no note wasted,
no space unfilled, and created a magic soundscape, full of noises
and keyboard patches you swear must have come from Mars.
"Video Killed the Radio Star" is here, of course, and still rings
true today, perhaps even more so than it did when MTV decided
to air it two years later as its first nationally-broadcast music
video. Someone like Air (review)
could cover this song and probably have a big hit with it today.
But "Video" is just the beginning when it comes to the marvels
of The Age of Plastic. The memorable "I Love You (Miss
Robot)" plays like Kratfwerk drowning in a vat of flour, a computerized
cry from the soul. The raucous "Kid Dynamo" foreshadows many an
early '80s synth rock hit. "Clean Clean" brings a bit of a punk
rock element into the mix. The title track is great too, one of
the first rock anthems of the degeneration of society into reliance
on machines, predating "Mr. Roboto" by four full years.
did not invent space rock, nor did they ever record an album like
this again, though their second and final release (1982's "Adventures
in Modern Recording") holds its own. But The Age of Plastic
is a fascinating listen, in that it bridges the gap between '70s
progressive pioneers like Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Alan Parsons (and
even E.L.O. perhaps), the synthesizer-driven rock of the '80s
like A Flock of Seagulls and Thomas Dolby, and current artists
like Air and Add N to X. It also suggests that the connection
between these various generations of space rock is less tenuous
than one may think.
liked The Age of Plastic...
Living In The Plastic Age
2. Video Killed The Radio Star
3. Kid Dynamo
4. I Love You (Miss Robot)
5. Clean, Clean
7. Astroboy (And The Proles On Parade)
8. Johnny On The Monorail