Tag Archives: The Buggles

Return to the 80s Music: The Age of Plastic

rtt80s music logoHey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned in the last article, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

The first article was The Romantics self-titled debut album.
Now we are on to another debut album – The Age of Plastic by the English new wave duo the Buggles

The Age of Plastic was released on January 10, 1980 on Island Records

The Buggles were formed in London in 1977 by singer and bassist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes. They had gotten together with Bruce Woolley, and together recorded some demos – one of them, “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

Horn and Downes would sign with Island records. While Woolley was originally intended to be the band’s lead singer, he left the group to form his own band, the Camera Club, who also recorded versions of “Clean, Clean” and “Video Killed the Radio Star”, songs that appeared on the Camera Club’s 1979 album English Garden.

So, Horn handled vocals and also played guitar and bass; Downes was the keyboard wizard who programmed the drums and handled the synths.

We’ll get more into this later on in 1980, but Horn and Downes will go on to replace Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on lead vocals and keyboards respectively on Yes’s album Drama.

But back to The Age of Plastic.

The Age of Plastic is a concept album about modern technology. There are only 8 songs on this album.

So let’s enter the Plastic Age

Side one

1. “Living in the Plastic Age
The first song on the album was the second single released from it.
It did not chart in the U.S., but it did well in the following countries:

Here are the chart positions
Belgium 17
France 3
Germany 29
Netherlands 2
Spain 18
UK Singles 16

According to SongFacts, Like “Video Killed The Radio Star,” the video was directed by Russell Mulcahy, one of the most visionary and experimental directors in the pre-MTV era. The video used cutting edge special effects and compositing techniques to create a warped reality that is disconcerting and unpredictable. It was much better than most of what MTV was showing, but the network ignored it. The album had been out for about 18 months when the network launched and the song never got any traction on US radio, so it wouldn’t have gotten any support. “Video Killed The Radio Star” became a mainstay because it hit right on the nose.

I feel like the U.S. missed out on this one. I like it a lot. This one sticks in my head. It was a perfect way to start the album.

2. “Video Killed the Radio Star

Best known as being the one millionth song played on MTV, which was on February 27, in the year 2000. I can’t believe they were still playing videos then!

But obviously, we all know it as the first ever video aired on MTV, which was at 12:01 AM on 1 August 1981.

Again, this song was written by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley in 1978.

It was actually first recorded by Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) for their album English Garden. I actually like that version a lot, and I like it more and more. It has some awesome guitar playing in it.

But, The Buggles version seems more appropriate for the subject matter. It feels like it should have a futuristic sound.

The Buggles released it as their debut single on September 7, 1979

On release, the single topped sixteen international music charts, including those in the UK, Australia, and Japan. It also peaked in the top 10 in Canada, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa, but only reached number 40 in the US.

The female singers on the record were Debi Doss and Linda Jardim (later Linda Allan). Doss had toured with The Kinks as a backup singer; Jardim had sung on a single for The Northampton Development Corporation that was released nationally by EMI, entitled “60 Miles by Road or Rail,” in an attempt to generate publicity for the growing town.

3. “Kid Dynamo
This is another one that sticks in your head. They sure know how to write earworms!
This song is about the effects of media on a futuristic kid of the 1980s.

4. “I Love You (Miss Robot)
In a article in Smash Hits magazine,Downes has said it is about “being on the road and making love to someone you don’t really like, while all the time you’re wanting to phone someone who’s a long way off.”

This is a slower paced song, but yet another one that stays with you.

Wow check out these lyrics!

You make love like a metronome
Don’t drive too fast when you take me home
Touch the seam on your silver skin
I feel so hard when you take me in

Woooow!!!!

Now time to cool off and turn the album over to side 2.

Side two

1. “Clean, Clean
This was the 3rd single released from the album. And this is another song that was first covered by Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club in 1979. And once again, the bruce Woolley version rocks more.

But, I still love The Buggles version, and the video is pretty cool.

The song charted in the UK (38) and West Germany (60)

Another freaking earworm! This should have been a bigger hit.

2. “Elstree
OK, we’ll just say that every song on here is an earworm!
This song is about a failed actor taking up a more regular position behind the scenes and looking back at his life in regret. It is a tribute to the U.K. film company Elstree Studios.

With this song, you can see how both members joined the band Yes. It’s like a combination of Yes and “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

This song has yet another great music video that was ahead of its time.

It was the fourth and final single released from the album. It’s only significant chart position was landing at #55 on the U.K. Charts.

3. “Astroboy (And the Proles on Parade)
This song sounds like a combination of “Kid Dynamo” and 70s Supertramp.

I had to look up what a Prole was, and it is a member of the working class.

The song has a slow prog-rock feel to it.

4. “Johnny on the Monorail
Picking things back up again. It’s a New Wavy/Prog-Rocky song, and smoothly coasts back into the station to wrap up the album.

Hidden Gem: “Living in the Plastic Age.” I thought it should have been a bigger hit. I also love “Clean, Clean.”

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

Just like as I gave The Romantics this, I’ll give The Age of Plastic a solid 4 out of 5. Before this, the only song I had heard of was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” I was pleasantly surprised with how good this album was. With this album, you can feel the transition from the 70s to the 80s begin. This is another album I may need to buy this on vinyl. There was not a bad song on here.

Mount Radmore of Music

This weekend, I listened to the latest episode of the totally awesome podcast Talk Talk with Martha Quinn. If you don’t subscribe and listen to that podcast, I highly recommend that you do. This most recent episode featured a heated discussion about who should appear on the ’80s music version of Mount Rushmore, which Martha named Mount Radmore. These are the songs that we would consider the founding fathers of the ’80s sound. There are so many great artists that are definitely deserving of monuments. But, if you had to choose only 4 who actually influenced the sound of the ’80s, who would you choose?

As you can imagine, things got heated on the podcast in the iHeart80s Radio 103.7 studios. Martha’s husband, Jordan, and iHeart80s Radio 103.7 DJ, Little Ricci, even got pulled into the debate.

I would highly recommend listening to this episode, then come back, and let me know who you would pick for your Mount Radmore.


I know that this will spark some debate, but I will give you my picks anyway.

Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles

Released in 1979, this song was a major influence for what was to come in ’80s Pop, New Wave, and just that fun, quirky, 80s attitude. Not to mention that it also kicked off MTV, which pretty much defined our 80s generation.

Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang

Here is another song that was released in 1979, and influenced an entire genre of music, and a lifestyle. Thanks to The Sugarhill Gang, we got some Newcleus, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and me with my boombox, parachute pants, cardboard, and some kick-ass break dancing moves. Without Rapper’s Delight, we may not have had Run-DMC (which would also mean no Aerosmith comeback), and other awesome Rap acts of the ’80s.

Tossup between “Cum on Feel the Noize” by Quiet Riot and “Rock Of Ages” by Def Leppard

I’m cheating here, but I give these two songs a tie. Both of these versions were released in 1983. Rock music had been around for a long time. But, these two songs brought hard rock to the mainstream. This would lead to big hair, big parties, and big attitudes that made the 80s so much fun.

Let The Music Play” by Shannon

Shannon may have been a one-hit wonder, but this one hit would define a brand new genre of music with Freestyle. This style of music would carry on through the early ’90s. It smoothly transitioned 70s disco to 80s dance-pop. This would lead to Exposé, The Cover Girls, Stevie B, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, and Sweet Sensation. An 80s high school dance would not be complete without us dancing (even badly) to a song by any of these Freestyle artists, thanks to Shannon.


OK, I know I got this all wrong. There were thousands of artists in the 80s, and we can only pick a handful. Who would you pick for your Mount Radmore? I’d love to hear from you!

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Crossover Event – Favorite 80s Music Videos


It’s time for another ’80s crossover event! This time we are talking/writing about some of our favorite music videos. Here are the entries from the rest of the ’80s League. Please check all of these people out, and leave comments.

 

 
80s Reboot Overdrive – Podcast and Blog
Killer Kitsch – 1980s Music Videos

 

We were fortunate enough to grow up in a time where we saw the birth of MTV, and watch it become one of the most influential entities of the decade. Before cable TV arrived, we had 3 major networks (and some UHF channels, that only had a little static if we were lucky). Then cable TV opened up a whole new world for us. I loved having HBO and Showtime. Being a sports fan, ESPN was great. You Can’t Do That on Television on Nickelodeon became one of my favorite television shows.

However, most of my television viewing went to MTV. The day I came home from school, and cable was newly installed in our home, the first station I put on was MTV. The first video I saw was “Little Red Corvette” by Prince. I don’t think I was the only person glued to MTV at the time. It was so different than anything else we watched. And if there was a song you loved, if you watched long enough, the video would come back on within a couple of hours. MTV helped out several artists who arrived on the scene at the perfect time – Michael Jackson, Prince, Duran Duran, Madonna. Unfortunately, it ruined some artists who were huge before MTV – buh-bye Christopher Cross and Billy Squier.

Now, for this #Fave80sMusicVideos crossover event, I’ll present some videos that stand out to me. There are many, many more. But, it would take days for this page to finish loading on your screen if I listed all my favorite, and groundbreaking videos. So, we’ll start from the beginning:

Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles

As any ’80s fan knows, this is the one that started it all. Not only is the song title appropriate for the first video to ever air on MTV, but it has that perfect ’80s sound. I still love this song to this day. The video itself isn’t too bad either. It doesn’t have that movie production value. There were some really cheesy and cheap videos in those early days, and this was above most of them.


ZZ Top Eliminator trilogy

While a lot of great acts from the ’60s and ’70s faded away with the dawn of the MTV generation, ZZ Top adapted extremely well. There was no mistaking their signature guitar sound of the ’70s, which made them wildly successful. But, instead of riding off in the sunset, they rode a customized 1930s Ford coupe, called the Eliminator, all the way to the stratosphere. They took advantage of the music video age, and made a marketing coup. While they weren’t the only singles released from the Eliminator album, these trilogy of videos are the most memorable. There is a storyline that runs through all three of these videos. First up…

Gimme All Your Lovin’

Great introduction to this series! I love how the first thing we see, even before the music starts) is the Eliminator. The car pulls up to a gas station, where we meet our protagonist dude, and we are introduced to the 3 Eliminator babes. The dude is a gas station attendant, who has a boss that’s a prick. The band tosses the keys, on the iconic ZZ Top keychain, to the dude, and he goes for a ride, while we listen to this awesome song! At the end, it appears the whole thing was a dream…or was it???

Sharp Dressed Man

Protagonist dude is changing into a tuxedo. He must make a lot of money at the gas station! Oh, wait. He’s a valet who gets treated like crap by coworkers and snooty, rich patrons. Then the Eliminator and Eliminator girls arrive, and the dude goes on another drive. He comes back in a new suit, and parties with the snoots, putting on the dance moves.

Legs

The third and final video of the Eliminator series features a woman as the main protagonist. She’s a mousy girl with glasses who goes to a burger joint, and is harassed by everyone there except for one guy, the cook, who is also harassed. She escapes the joint, leaving behind a food container and her glasses. The cook grabs the stuff and goes after her. She arrives at the shoe store where she works, where she is treated pretty much the same as at the burger joint. The cook gives the poor woman her stuff, then he is unceremoniously thrown out the the door by an asshole. But, he is thrown right in front of the arriving Eliminator. The Eliminator girls step out of the car, help the guy out, and go in the store, and exact revenge on the assholes in the store. Then our protagonist girl gets a makeover. After her makeover, the ladies all head over to the burger joint and rescue the guy, again, exacting revenge on the assholes in that place. The Eliminator drives off into nothing, and ZZ Top waves goodbye to us and fades away.

Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen

Sit down, Waldo! As with several of David Lee Roth’s solo videos, this Van Halen video begins with a kooky skit before it gets into the song. As much as I love Sammy Hagar, there have been very few showmen like David Lee Roth. The whole band was at the top of their game right here. The song starts with that iconic drumbeat, and of course when you have a legend on guitar, you can’t go wrong. Not only is the song awesome, but as a teenage boy when this song came out, I did not mind the hot bikini clad teachers. At all. Looking at it now, it seems just as creepy as Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” video where a boy watches Madonna strip and dance. I also liked how they got kid versions of the band members who liked just like them. This was a very fun and funny video.

Land Of Confusion” by Genesis

Another great song accompanied by an awesome video. Even though this video got constant airplay, I never got sick of it. This was my introduction to the caricature puppets by the British television show Spitting Image. I know that Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” are heavily promoted as innovative videos. But, this is the one that fascinated me. In the age of CGI, I doubt we’ll see the likes of this again.

What were some of your favorite music videos? And don’t forget to visit the other pages and podcasts of my fellow 80s League (soon to be Banzai Club)  members .

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Remember That Song: 8/2/16

Can you name the artist and song:

My lips are moving and the sound’s coming out
The words are audible but I have my doubts


Last Song: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles from The Age of Plastic (1980)

Great job, Jim (@JimVilk)!!!

And now we meet in an abandoned studio
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago

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Remember That Song: 12/2/14

Can you name the artist and song:

Oh let’s go, let’s strike a light
We’re gonna blow like dynamite
I don’t care if it takes all night


Last Song: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles from The Age of Plastic (1979)

Great job Andrew (@andytorah)!!

They took the credit for your second symphony
Rewritten by machine on new technology

And here is the reason why I had this song in my head. I recorded this at the incredibly awesome Rubix Kube concert Friday night.

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