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Buggles

The Age of Plastic

Review by Gary Hill

A lot of people (especially in the progressive rock community) have disparaging things to say about Buggles. Personally I’ve always enjoyed the band. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are a couple progressive rock tracks here, but I wouldn’t consider this disc to be prog. Rather the group is included in that genre since (after this disc was released) the duo (Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) became members of Yes and because Downes is also the solo permanent member of the original Asia. Progressive rock or not, this is still quite an entertaining album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Living In The Plastic Age
Weird bits of voices and ringing, like a phone, come and go as this opens. It eventually works out to a cool electronic groove. The vocals come in over the top of that. This is a bit like Kraftwerk with a groove and some humanity added to it. There are some really soaring moments as this cut continues. Honestly, I think this is a much stronger tune that "Video Killed the Radio Star." It has some similarities to that song, but just ups the ante. It's a real winner.
Video Killed The Radio Star
The first video to be played on MTV, you have to have heard this song. It’s a cool tune with some varying themes and moods, but you probably know that.
Kid Dynamo
A big change from the first two tracks, this is much more powerful and dramatic. It’s also one that I’d log in as progressive rock. It’s a great piece of music. I’d put this as one of the highlights of the set. It’s not that far removed, in terms of the music, from something by Rick Wakeman.
I Love You (Miss Robot)
A mellower and more understated song, this is pretty. It’s also a change from the rest of the stuff here, and frankly, I’d still call it progressive rock.
Clean, Clean
This is a study in contrasts. It starts with a classical music section that feels like it could have come from a Rick Wakeman album, but then works out into a punky sort of jam. There are a number of other motifs on this. It’s a catchy tune, but not the most proggy thing on the set.
Elstree
A bouncy and pretty mellower number, this is a cool tune. That said, the music is a bit much like “Video Killed The Radio Star.” Still, it also reminds quite a bit of some of Rick Wakeman’s solo works.
Astroboy (And The Proles On Parade)
More of an electronica sort of piece, this has some cool keyboard work, but over all isn’t really a highlight of the CD.
Johnny On The Monorail
More of a keyboard oriented pop track, this one’s also tasty, but not exceptional.
 
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