- Mark Radbourne
I'm a former hospital radio/club/mobile DJ, avid record collector and amateur musician (playing guitar, keyboards, recorder, harmonica and percussion.) I've even filled in on bass guitar for a couple of local bands as well (although that was quite a few years ago). Also interested in Motorsports, Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts and Classic Television and Radio from the 1960s - 1980s.
Why am I on here? Well, I'm just trying to make some sense of life before it's too late...but who cares anyway?
Friday, 13 November 2015
So what do you do when you have a number one single, followed by a top 30 album? Well, If you're Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, you break off work on the next album to join one of the archetypal prog-rock bands of the 70s, after which you go back to your original outfit to continue work on the second album. Simple? Well not quite, as Downes would move on to form Asia with former Yes bandmate Steve Howe, leaving Horn to soldier on under the Buggles name and finish the album with new musicians and songwriting partners. So how did the album turn out?
The title track is probably a great choice for an opening number, with the lyrics almost reading like a summary of an X-Factor episode - the main character plucked from obscurity and touted as the "next big thing", as the promotional machine goes into overdrive. The story, such as it is, isn't resolved fully, leaving you asking yourself "whatever happened to him?"
"Beatnik" sees Horn in a bit of a playful mindset - to me the track sounds like he'd been given all this new gear to mess around with - with the results sounding rather appealing.
"Vermillion Sands" on the other hand, was a much more complex proposition. Starting out in a low key fashion with just bass,electric piano and a rudimentary rhythm box (similar to those you'd have got in one of those home organs you'd see in a mail order catalogue) it chops and changes, with passages including some Level 42-esque bass, and those brass stabs which Horn would turn into one of his trademark production effects, an atmospheric synth line played over what sounds like a scene from a fillm noir production and climaxes with a big band finale which even Glenn Miller would have been proud of!
As for "I Am A Camera", that song has its roots in "Into The Lens" which featured on Yes' "Drama" LP in 1980. While the Yes version was very much full-on prog, the version we have here is almost like a demo with minimal instrumentation. And to be honest, it works better in this format.
"On TV" has one of those insistent synth lines which tends to stick in your mind as you're warned about the perils of watching those late night shows on the box, while "Inner City" could work well as a soundtrack to one of those late night film scenes where the traffic whizzes by leaving trails of light in its wake.
"Lenny" has a bit of an interesting story to go along with it. When the track was released as a single in Holland and Horn was asked to appear on Dutch TV to promote the single, the backing group he recruited for the night was an up and coming outfit called ABC! (There is footage of the performance doing the rounds on YouTube should you want to take a look for yourselves)
"Rainbow Warrior" is something of a slow burner which doesn't really get going until halfway through, although it does end the LP on a relatively high note.
The LP came out in late '81, but did absolutely nothing chart wise in the UK. However, it was the ideal opportunity for Horn to experiment with some of the production tricks which would become his trademarks in later years. It's a solid effort on the whole, but it's best seen as just a taste of what Horn was truly capable of achieving as he embarked on a new adventure in modern recording.