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The Age After Plastic,
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This review is from: Adventures In Modern Recording (Audio CD)
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Mar 2010 10:31:22 GMT
Henri LO says:
You compare it with Thomas Dolby's The Flat Earth or Peter Gabriel 4. Is it an apple-to-apple one?
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Mar 2010 08:29:37 GMT
If you mean "are these comparable albums?", then yes. All three represented what was technically most forward-looking in terms of the recording techniques of their day. All three were by artists who were slightly off-beat or marginal. All three feature obvious "lead singles" (e.g. "Hyperactive", "Shock The Monkey") backed by more obviously experimental material. That said, the albums are of course different, and in my view AiMR is certainly the least impressive of the three. I would think that someone who liked either of the more famous albums, though, would find worthwhile in this one.
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