on 23 January 2010
Everyone remembers "Video Killed The Radio Star", some people may even remember follow up singles "The Plastic Age" (a better record than "Video" IMO), "Elstree" and "Clean Clean". Hardly anyone remembers this album, or got to hear it the first time round in 1981. Here is an opportunity to rectify that.
"Adventures In Modern Recording" sounds simply superb. The mastering has brought this collection to life, to the point where it feels like a brand new contemporary album. Every track sounds incredibly fresh and new, with an audible depth I'd not heard before on the original vinyl or 90s CD issues. "Vermillion Sands", "Inner City" and "Lenny" are sonic masterpieces, whilst the title track and "On TV" in particular race along with crisp technopop clarity and rhythm. "I Am A Camera" is the Buggles hit that never was, and is featured in 7" and 12" form.
The slip case is beautiful. The artwork informative, and with TEN(!) bonus tracks not on the original album it's incredible value for money. For Yes fans, the presence of parts one and two of "We Can Fly From Here" probably make it essential, and The Buggles demo of "Videotheque" (a 1982 hit Trevor went on to produce for Dollar) is a revelation to hear.
I always remember the first time that I saw a review for 'Adventures In Modern Recording'. It was in the Record Mirror and their reviewer gave it 0 out of 10 and totally savaged the whole thing. Interestingly, a few weeks later, another review from the same person was printed in RM and I think this time he gave the record 4 out of 10 or 6 out of ten (can't recall). My point in telling you all this is however to make the point that Trevor Horn has always been a man to push the boundaries and come up with the unexpected. Because of this, like any innovator, he has frequently been ridiculed only later to be praised for the very same records.
'Adventures In Modern Recording' is not an album to like from the first time you hear it. I burst out laughing the first time I heard 'Beatnik' and thought it was the biggest waste of vinyl I'd heard for a long time but now I love it and everything on this album with a passion. This album is full of drama, musical space, imagination, inspiration and experimentation. It constantly amazes, entertains and surprises you and I find the classic 'I Am A Camera' a song that can make me think so deeply about my life and my past that it can bring me to tears.
There is a seriousness to Trevor Horn's work that you can be forgiven for thinking that the man himself is hardly likely to be the one that tells jokes at a party but I would LOVE to meet the man anyway! Outside of my own GENIUS producer - Harvey Summers - only Trevor and Tony Mansfield have ever really inspired me as producers and my love of dramatic passages and backing vocals was almost certainly inspired by this record. The haunting 'careful, careful your walking on glass, your walking on glass' distant backing vocal call on 'Lenny' along with the plaintive and poignant piano refrain and washing synths are typical of the way that Horn creates so much beautiful space inside a track. 'Vermillion Sands' is another masterpiece with many mood changes and atmospherics along the way.
I suppose bearing in mind all I have said so far, it was always inevitable that the more synth pop singles 'On T.V' and the title track were never going to be as successful as the innovative 'Video Killed The Radio Star' but that is what you always get with the world of popular music whenever your first single is a classic.
There is just so much to get excited about with this release! The remastered sound is excellent (though the quality understandably dips a little during some of the demo's towards the end that were mastered from Trevor's personal archive of cassettes), the extra tracks are a treat for fans and there is a great and very frank interview with Trevor himself in the booklet. I could go on and on but, hell, stop reading this review now and BUY THIS!
on 14 April 2010
Along with (too) many others, I missed this album the first time round and have been wanting to hear it for years. I have to say, that the very long wait, has definitely been worth it! If you loved their first effort, this is a must have. What makes it all the more interesting, is that with the album originally being released shortly after their other 'adventure' with Yes, there are elements of progressive rock here (two of the bonus tracks were actually written for Yes). Production is pristine, as you would expect from Trevor Horn, and all the tracks really sparkle. Outstanding songs include the title track, Lenny, Vermillion Sands and, of course, I Am a Camera. I must also mention the bonus track, Dion, which is just magical! This is referred to as a 'demo', as are most of the bonus songs, but you'll have heard finished records that aren't as musically accomplished, or as well produced. Seriously, it is that good. It's true to say, that Geoff Downes only appears on four of the tracks, but don't let that put you off! Overall, a simply stunning piece of work, which continues where The Age of Plastic, left off. Listening to it only makes me wish the guys would get back together and make another album and given that next year, it will be thirty years since this great work was released, maybe the time is right for a third Buggles masterpiece? We can but hope...
on 25 November 2014
The second studio Buggles album is an unjustly overlooked classic. Sure, some of the songs on it may not be as memorable as some of the hits from their first album such as Video Killed and Living in the Plastic Age but many deserve to be up there among them.
The songs that spring to mind when stating this are "On TV", "I Am a Camera" and "Videotheque". The title track is also a brilliant tack but I feel as though it is not as memorable as the aforementioned three.
The bonus tracks make this astounding collection even more incredible, The versions of "We can Fly From Here" and some other bonuses such as "Dion" and the demo version of "On TV" are unmissable.
If you are a fan of new wave this is a must purchase.
on 27 March 2001
Originally released in 1982, 'Adventures In Modern Recording' was recorded after Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes period with progressive rock supergroup Yes. Indeed, one track from this album, 'I Am A Camera', had already appeared in a very different form on the 1980 Yes album 'Drama' under the title 'Into The Lens'
'Adventures...' contains eight well written, well produced pop songs with the occasional pomp-rock flourish and should appeal to fans of the Buggles first album or anyone who admires Trevor Horn's excellent production work or the sweeping keyboard style of Geoff Downes that graced Yes and later Asia.
This CD contains three bonus tracks not on the original album 'Fade Away' (originally flip side to 'I Am A Camera' and 'On TV'), 'Blue Nylon' (originally flipside to 'Adventures In Modern Recording') and the extended 12" version of 'I Am A Camera'.
Also, if you're old enough to have bought the orginal album first time around - and I'm afraid I am - then it's worth pointing out that the version of 'Rainbow Warrior' on this CD is slightly different to the vinyl version and the 'reprise' to 'Adventures In Modern Recording' at the end of the album is slightly longer as, unlike it's vinyl counterpart, it does not fade out.
A fine adventure into eighties pop and well worth investigating!
on 11 April 2003
If you're looking at this album for another "Video Killed The Radio Star," forget it, because there isn't one on this album. While it's true the songs on this album are a bit less memorable than their debut, this is still a wonderful cd to own and, I think, well worth the high import price.
This album was going to be another Geoff Downes/Trevor Horn album, but early on in the recording process Geoff Downes left to form Asia with Steve Howe, leaving Trevor Horn (and those who would become longstanding Horn collaborators, including Bruce Wooley) to complete the album without him. In a sense, this is more of a Trevor Horn solo album than a Buggles album. And what a great solo album it is!
If you liked the first Buggles album's quirky lyrical themes, stylish arrangements and (of course) Trevor Horn's singing, then get this album. Standout tracks include the jazzy "Vermillion Sands," "Lenny" (a song about Leonardo Da Vinci), and the prog-rockish "Rainbow Warrior." The B-sides are even good this time around; both "Fade Away" (a blatant reference to Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away") and "Blue Nylon" are enjoyable on repeat listenings.
One last thing: the production values of this album are absolutely breathtaking, and is more "audiophile" than anything else from this time period, period! To hear this album on vinyl is stunning; on cd, even more so. This is what bumped my rating from 4 stars to 5. Aspiring record producers/recording engineers start here!
on 20 January 2007
The Buggles would hardly have any great devoted following based solely on the strength of this album, which doesn't have the instant "love at first hearing" impact of their phenomenal Living In the Plastic Age. Nevertheless, any serious collector would want this enjoyable record.
Probably the closest to their more familiar work would be the singles, I Am a Camera, and On TV, pretty good pop tunes. Most of the album leans in a progressive, sometimes jazzy, direction, not surprising considering other projects with which Trevor Horn was involved around that time. Still, I consider this album to be fairly unique in that it doesn't quite fit into any neat categories or comparisons. While the tunes may not be so much of the "hum on your way to work" variety, they are memorable in their own playful way.
Essentially, this is best suited for music lovers who don't get hung up about a group having to relive its hits over and over, nor about sticking to any rigid genre. Approach with an open mind, and enjoy the production master indulging in a bit of personal musical expression.
I've been nursing a deteriorating cassette copy of this album since it came out, so this CD release is a welcome find, but eyebrows may be raised at the suggestion, on the cover sticker, that this is in some way a "legendary lost album". Few lists of eighties masterpieces feature The Buggles' ill-starred second album, and while the liner notes here go some way towards explaining why the album never succeeded, it's hard to argue for its enduring importance.
What is probably beyond dispute is that this is a better and more interesting album than The Buggles' Age of Plastic. Technologically advanced for its day, the album has a rich soundstage that holds up well. While the production is less orchestral than that on Grace Jones's Slave to the Rhythm or the two Frankie albums, it is just as massive and rich in detail. In terms of songwriting as well, the album is surprisingly strong, and much better than the first Art of Noise album, where similar "adventures in modern recording" overwhelmed the basic material.
The additional tracks here vary between the fundamentally pointless (a demo of "Lenny" that is very close to the final version) to tracks that strengthen the throughline between Yes and The Buggles. Certainly the underlying similarity between Trevor Horn's voice and Jon Anderson's is clearer with the passage of time, and the proximity of electronic prog is notable on several of the extra tracks here. These bonuses, however, add nothing to the album itself, which proves remarkably coherent.
Of the songs, "On TV" is the most throwaway and an obvious attempt to maintain the run of success that began with "Video Killed The Radio Star". Other songs prove more powerful, with "Rainbow Warrior", "Vermillion Sands" and "I Am A Camera" all especially resilient. You may smile occasionally at a dated musical element - the electronic drums that open "Inner City", for example - but the album is no mere historical curiosity. Perhaps because the album has its own sense of nostalgia, it steers clear of the worst cliches of its day, and the arrangements are consistently striking.
This album needs to be restored to the company of other standout pop albums of its era. While it doesn't quite hit the heights of Thomas Dolby's The Flat Earth or Peter Gabriel 4, this is an album that deserves to reach the wider audience denied it on first release.
on 12 October 2013
This is the Buggles album made after the break up of Yes in 1980. However, it is more of a Trevor Horn solo album, and impressive as such. Very good shorter and simpler version of the Drama song "Into the Lens" as well as excellent one man versions of songs that would later appear on "Fly from Here".
on 5 November 2001
The Buggles had a monster hit in the eighties with "Video killed.."...hey, this number is the eighties summed up in one song (also quite prophetic). I was curious about their other offerings and boy was I not disappointed! "Adventures..." is wonderfully loud and melodic with many hightlights. The themes of most of the songs are quite physical and abstract "I am a Camera", "On TV" but the melodies worm inside your brain. Thats not possible with most of the current pop music (which is so forgettable). The anthemic "Lenny" is my favourite...who is Lenny? where is he from?...does it matter?
Buy this album and take that nostalgic trip back..