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Adventures In Modern Recording
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The European CD debut for this lost 1981 classic from super-producer Trevor Horn s chart-topping outfit. Beautifully remastered from original master tapes for pristine sound quality. Expanded to twice its original length by the inclusion of all the associated B-sides and remixes plus several previously unheard demos selected by Trevor Horn. Expanded artwork includes new liner notes and interviews, rare photos and single sleeves.
Video Killed the Radio Star is a ‘classic’ notable as much for announcing the dawn of the 80s as for its electro-pop then-novelty. The first video to be shown on MTV, it was somehow both arch, ironic commentator on that decade’s follies and triumphs and soul-squashing spawn of Satan responsible for the death of imagination. So (The) Buggles lay claim to a peculiar role in history.
With the world at their feet, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes let Buggles lie fallow and joined, of all people, prog-rock giants Yes, rebooting them with mixed results. With that achieved, Horn recorded a second Buggles album (Downes left to form Asia), and that commercial flop is now available on CD for the first time, with ten seriously interesting bonus tracks. After this, Horn accepted that his talents lay in producing rather than fronting, and went on to define the decade with ABC, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Malcolm McLaren et al. He nurtures top-level names, and also Robbie Williams, to this day.
The title says it all: Horn is more intrigued by the possibilities of the studio than the song. It sounds paltry and tinny in places, his experiments now dated. In other sections, his courage remains audible and impressive, as tracks skitter from pompous sampled dramatics to wonderfully impish mock-jazz sections. There’s a hyperactive mind at work, but this is where he worked out his kinks, honed his mad skills.
There’s dazzling range to Vermillion Sands which makes Bohemian Rhapsody resemble T.V. Eye, while Beatnik and On TV take the bustling 1970s brains of 10cc and use them as Play-Doh for Horn’s desk of tricks. Schizophrenia rules: he was to re-mould Videotheque for his puppets Dollar, while We Can Fly From Here was first written for Yes. The vocals are weedy (next to Horn, a robot is Aretha), but that just adds to the intentional Ballard-ian froideur. This brand of Buggles sound(ed) both mischievous and stately, inquisitive yet portentous.
Buggles were just one finger on Trevor Horn’s wizard-hands. He learned warmth, and became chief enabler for some peerlessly smart pop. This is his sketch-book. --Chris Roberts
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Top customer reviews
"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.
'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!
'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!
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Worth it for I Am A Camera, Vermilion Sands and Lenny alone, but the other tracks aren't that...Read more
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