Why did Yes want…The Buggles – Part 1 – 552

Produced by Ken Fuller, Wayne Hall and Jeffrey Crecelius

This week we are back with our ‘Why did Yes want…’ series and we have reached 1980 when both Anderson and Wakeman had left the band and up stepped Horn and Downes. How did this happen and why would Yes want to develop a relationship with a pop band? Listen on to discover our thoughts and then add your own to the show notes. Over the coming week we will be listening to The Buggles album, ‘The Age Of Plastic’ to try and find some clues to help us with the question above so please do join in with that and let us know what you think of the album, 42 years later.

  • A pop band?
  • Are you serious?
  • How could that work?

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Courtesy of Doug Curran

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from:

6 replies on “Why did Yes want…The Buggles – Part 1 – 552”

I remember being so alarmed and worried when I learned that Jon and Rick had been replaced by a “pop” duo (I had not heard of the Buggles). At midnight, on the day when Drama was released, my local FM station played the album in its entirety. I was shocked and disappointed by the sound… The next day I left the country (unrelated) and ignored the album and was not available for the accompanying tour. Little did I know, a couple years later, when I really gave it a chance, it would become one of my favorites. Now I think it is a shame that they never did a second album…. oh, wait! Yes they did, with Fly From Here! I have my opinions on which version of FFH was better… but then I’m getting ahead of the topic…

Hi everyone. Thanks for using my photo of my Drama promo display. Kevin, surprise-I don’t have a signed copy of The Buggles first album! But I do have a pre-Buggles vinyl album that I’ve never heard discussed anywhere, is rarely listed under Geoff’s or Trevor’s names, and only read about once. It has Geoff & Trevor and was produced by Trevor, in ’78. The band was called Chromium, and it also included Anne Dudley & Hans Zimmer! The album is called Star to Star. It’s worth finding & listening to it. You can hear some of the sounds that are part of The Buggles album. Geoff signed my copy in 2012. Geoff said he hadn’t seen it in many years! I’ll take a photo & post it on the Facebook page.

I do have the Buggles first album & do love it. In fact I played it all on my then radio show upon release. It was considered a bit avant-garde and new waveish in ’79.

I remember seeing Steve Howe talking about the state of YES post-“Drama” (I think it was in the YesYears documentary), and he mentioned that the band was down to him and Geoff Downes, and they wondered whether they could carry on. Of course, they ended up creating ASIA together, instead, and Chris and Alan picked up the YES baton once more with Trevor Horn as producer. Now in 2022 we’re back to that point again with Steve and Geoff being the last men standing from the Drama line-up. (And YES has become a band comprised of four musicians who have all been in ASIA, plus Jon Davison.)
Since Doug Curran mentioned the pre-Buggles disco album by CHROMIUM, I’ll to point out that “We are the Ra-a-a-a-a-dar A-a-ngels” from the first track on the “Star By Star” LP has the same melody as “I asked my love to give me she-e-e-e-elter” from Drama’s “Run Through the Light.” We find YES music in the most unexpected places sometimes!
Thanks for mentioning me in the podcast; my name is pronounced REETH-my-er.

Like you, Kevin, I’ve sung for Queen Elizabeth II, and I’ve also seen Yes play to her successor. That was in 2004, and Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn were part of the ensemble and played as Buggles earlier in the evening. Which brings us to…
As a Tormato-loving 13-year-old, I was listening to BBC Radio One’s “Friday Rock Show” in 1980 when Tommy Vance announced that Jon and Rick had left Yes and that Trevor and Geoff had joined, sounding as though he was reading from a press release. I was intrigued. I’d definitely heard “Video” and somehow knew of the “heart police / cardiac arrest” line from “Plastic Age”.
My adolescent budget didn’t extend to actually buying “The Age of Plastic” the minute I heard the news so it wasn’t until the release of “Drama” that I heard a long-player with the new guys on. I never heard their own album.
In fact, it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I eventually came into possession of an illicit C90 containing both “The Age of Plastic” and “Adventures In Modern Recording”. I think the two albums complement each other beautifully, with the latter pointing to subsequent work by Horn, but the first one having perhaps a more consistent manifesto.
What I can hear on that first album that fed into Yes is Horn’s distinct lyrical style. Yes’ lyrics had begun to concern the modern and dystopian in small parts of “Tormato”, but Horn brought to Yes his influence from new-wave SF author JG Ballard. His words have a different kind of abstraction to Jon Anderson’s more spiritual formations. There is no more Ballardian a setting for a song than the deserted airfield of “Fly From Here”!
The other confessed Ballard reader to release an album in 1980 was John Foxx, whose “Metamatic” that year shows even more of the influence than the two albums Trevor Horn sang lyrics on.
I didn’t know any of this at the time. I would discover Foxx, Buggles and Ballard as my world later expanded. I saw Yes on the “Drama” tour and heard Geoff deliver “Video Killed the Radio Star” in the same grandiose way Rick Wakeman had played Handel the previous decade.
And then, many years later, having replaced my dodgy C90 (which was taken in a burglary of my student house – how’s that for poetic justice?) with revenue-raising CDs, I actually saw Buggles live in Notting Hill in 2010 and they played all of “The Age of Plastic”.
It was worth the wait.

What a great episode. I have always loved Drama. I actually prefer Adventures in Modern Recording to The Age of Plastic. I am sure one of your listeners will know more about this…but I think the composer Hans Zimmer was also involved briefly in The Buggles

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