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Age Of Plastic (Rm) (W/1 Bonus Original recording remastered
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|1. 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|
|11. Johnny On The Monorail|
Remastered reissue of 1980 new wave classic includes three bonus tracks, 'Island', 'Technopop' & 'Johnny On The Monorail (A Very Different Version)'.
Part of the early-1980s great explosion of pop music (witness: Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson) to have any real impact, an accident of fate-titled "Video Killed the Radio Star" inextricably links the Buggles to the rise of MTV. Unfortunate for the band's future, the two best Buggles tracks (the other, "Clean Clean") were cowritten with Bruce Woolley, who simultaneously released them (with less success) with his new band, The Camera Club. The artificial sound of these comparatively primitive keyboards and drum machines, once embraced by nihilist popsters on the edge of punk, has since mutated (Gary Numan, Eno, Woodentops, etc.) into the all-but-voiceless electronic music of the late '90s. Regardless, the Buggles manifested a handful of pop gems in science fiction clothing. And why not? We still read Bradbury and Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. Oddly, what once seemed such smart and jaded music now plays as the voice of joyous optimism. Go figure. --Grant Alden --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Pay attention to the lyrics on this album. "Kid Dynamo" is about the death of imagination in the age of mass media, a proposition that is clearly becoming more and more obvious with each year. "I Love You Miss Robot" is not kinky, despite its title, and is about the pitfalls of human dependence on technology. As for the music, it is pretty diverse. ""Video Killed the Radio Star" is upbeat and peppy while "Johnny on the Monorail" is the exact opposite, dark and brooding. Of course, at the time the use of electronic devices was considered cutting edge and the novelty of it all distracted from the potency of the lyrics. The Alan Parsons Project tried to do something along these lines with with 1977's "I Robot," but that effort seems ponderous and pretentious when compared to "Age of Plastic." I think I could make a compelling argument that this is one of the top ten, or at least top two dozen albums, from the decade (and you can go either way on that as the end of the 1970s or the start of the 1980s).
To me, it's a bit like The Cars' Panorama or Todd Rundgren's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, both recorded at the same time, in that what is created here is an insular world, a bit cold and distant, providing a glimpse at the future that, to my ears today, ironically sounds quaint, inviting, and comforting. To be honest, as the headlines today blare continuing bad news, I'm going to keep going back to this future as it's often preferable to our present....
"Video Killed The Radio Star," historical because its video was the one that launched MTV, is far better than the Presidents of the United States remake. The distance travelled between different media, from that wireless back in 1952 to the then-present day of 1979, can be heard in the distorted male vocals and the strings, which evoke a kind of nostalgia for the lost past. The female vocals singing the chorus are classic.
Things move to a quicker pace with "Kid Dynamo," with electric guitars and strings boosting things along.
"I Love You (Miss Robot)" with electronically synthesized vocals singing the chorus lends credence to the futuristic setting of this album. Love those female vocals mid-song!
"Clean, Clean" begins with a slow baroque synthesizer before going full force with guitar and drums. The synthesizer solo in the middle of the song is classic late 70's new wave electronica.
"Elstree" is a slower number about the British studio of the same name and tells of the protagonist's fantasy of playing heroes in historical B-pictures. The song closes with the sounds of a galloping horse. An electronical version of that stock music from British historical sagas is included as well.
"Astroboy" isn't as remarkable compared to the rest of the album. "Johnny On The Monorail" however, continues with the quick-paced soundscape of synthesizer-mania.
This is more of a futuristic mechanized soundtrack for the industrial landscape of the current day and near future than ELO's Time. Considering that this came out in the new-wave movement of the late-70's/early 80's, this one-of-a-kind nugget is to be cherished for all time.
_Plastic Age_ is an album typical of a sound in the early '80s which offered a sharp contrast to what was typical radio fare in the '70s. Everything got very tinny, antiseptic, electronic, even quirky. This sharply contrasted with the earthy, soulful sounds of the '70s like Grand Funk, Doobie Brothers, and Seals & Crofts. I like either sort of sound, though.
Trevor provides good singing, bass, and guitar, while Geoff provides very neat keyboard parts and some additional vocals. The lyrics tend to be funny, interesting, and clever. I liked this album to begin with, and grew to like it even better with additional listenings. It's beautiful, really.