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The Buggles

The Buggles started life in 1977 in Geoff Downes' flat above a stonemason's in Wimbledon, South West London.

With his friends Trevor Horn and Bruce Woolley they laid down rough demos of their earliest compositions, Clean Clean, On TV and Video Killed The Radio Star . "They'll never be as big as The Buggles!" they joked in a cheeky reference to The Beatles and the fact that - for the two years that followed - nothing happened with the tracks they had recorded.

Horn and Downes tried in vain to find an opening for their music but finally found a receptive audience and the offer of a deal with Sarm Productions, a new company run by Jill Sinclair. But on the day they went to sign their contract Chris Blackwell from Island Records stepped and in with a bigger deal...

He gave Trevor and Geoff recording and publishing contracts and sent them straight back into the studio where they spent the first half of 1979 intensively recording. At the same Bruce Woolley left to form The Camera Club with Thomas Dolby, who released their own versions of Clean Clean and Video Killed The Radio Star on their 1979 Epic album English Garden.

"Well now that we're not doing business," Jill said to Trevor when Sarm Productions missed out on signing the duo, "you can take me out on Saturday night!" A year later they were married, remaining as husband and wife, artist and manager to this day. At the same time The Buggles completed their debut album, The Age of Plastic which portrayed a unique set of influences, from the machine music of Kraftwerk to the most delicate sixties pop.

It's first single, Video Killed The Radio Star, was in the UK top ten within four weeks of release and gave Island Records its first number one, not only in the UK but across Europe. "This crazy, catchy pop tune," as Downes described it, "fronted by two of the most unlikely combinations of people with a ridiculous name," became an appropriately prophetic choice for the first video ever to be played on MTV when the station launched in 1981.

It was always going to be a difficult project to follow-up, but Trevor Horn was determined to give it a try. He embarked on Adventures In Modern Recording (1981), the second Buggles album and effectively a solo project - Geoff Downes having split to form Asia.

More left-field and certainly less chart-oriented, it's main single was I Am A Camera, which Trevor and Geoff had originally recorded as Into The Lens when they joined Yes for their Drama album and tour.

The album became the first in an exclusive line of Trevor Horn albums where the production is centre stage, rather than supporting cast. Adventures In Modern Recording would lead directly to Grace Jones' Slave To The Rhythm, Art of Noise 's The Seduction of Claude Debussy and whole chunks of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Welcome to the Pleasuredome.

Something else these albums have in common is the infinite possibilities of sampling . "We were just feeling our way through what you could actually do," Trevor says of the making of Adventures. "I sort of perfected a load of production tricks on Adventures In Modern Recording. Loads of productions tricks..."

Trevor's work with Dollar dovetailed out of one track on the album, Vermillion Sands. "Dollar in my head were playing at the Vermillion Sands Hotel," he says, "and they had their technopop band," and from there he went on to produce ABC who acted as Buggles' back-up band in what was to be Buggles' last live appearance for over 20 years.

That was until 2004 when Trevor reunited with Geoff Downes in 2004 to open Produced By Trevor Horn, a concert for the Princes Trust at Wembley Arena. And in 2010 Adventures in Modern Recording is available once again - remastered, with a new interview with Trevor Horn and adding all the original b-sides.

 

The Buggles : releases

The Buggles

Adventures in Modern Recording