Released today in 1981: I Am A Camera

Carerre CAR213

Carerre CAR213

I Am A Camera was a The Buggles song that had first been heard by the public as Into The Lens, a song by prog rockers Yes, the band Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes had joined in 1980. “The song I Am A Camera was a [The] Buggles track and we had adapted it into a Yes track. It became Into The Lens and naturally, slightly more overblown. I don’t mind Into The Lens – the melody’s unadulterated while the arrangement’s a lot more complicated – but I still prefer The Buggles’ version. I think Geoffrey’s brilliant on The Buggles’ version,” said Horn.

Unfortunately, Downes wasn’t around to promote the single as released by The Buggles. Although, as indicated above, he played on the song, by the time it was released he had left to create a new band, a kind of prog rock supergroup called Asia. Island records, by all accounts, didn’t reckon Horn’s chances without him, and dropped The Buggles. (Ironically, this was happening just as MTV was being launched, with Video Killed The Radio Star being the first video shown and bringing the group plenty of attention.) As Horn had enough songs for a new album by this stage, he needed to reinvent The Buggles’ brand. His wife and manager Jill Sinclair arranged a new recording deal with the France-based company Carrere and Adventures In Modern Recording, the second album, was completed.

More experimental than the first LP, Adventures In Modern Recording was a commercial failure in the UK and it sold poorly, with none of its three singles charting. It was better received in territories such as France, where two further tracks were issued as singles, but by 1982 Horn’s career was already moving on to its next phase. The album had allowed him to master many studio techniques that enhanced his range of production skills, and it would be his work at the desk that he would become famous for in the 1980s. Jill Sinclair would be instrumental in this: it was she, for example, who encouraged him to produce an album for pop duo Dollar. “I was pretty shocked that she wanted me to produce Dollar. I didn’t get it. But she said, ‘Just do a [The] Buggles album and they’ll front it’. And I was like, ‘Oh, I get that…’ Fortunately Dollar – Therese Bazaar and David Van Day – were happy to submit themselves to that idea, too.”

It worked – the Dollar album was a hit. Horn became a producer for hire, working with other bands like ABC. He and Sinclair set up a record company of their own, Zang Tumb Tuum, and began working on a variety of projects: The Art Of Noise, Grace Jones and Frankie Goes To Hollywood all recorded albums at Horn’s studios in 1984/85 that were released on ZTT. All of this was possible due to the learnings Horn had taken from The Buggles’ second album: “I sort of perfected a load of production tricks on Adventures In Modern Recording. Loads of production tricks,” he said. They were put to good use repeatedly for the rest of the decade.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Oct. 2
1981
The ASSOCIATES Message Oblique Speech (Situation 2 SIT10)
BANANARAMA Aie A Mwama (Deram DM446)
The BUGGLES I Am A Camera (Carrere CAR213)
The CURE Charlotte Sometimes (Fiction FICS14)
Debbie HARRY The Jam Was Moving (Chrysalis CHS2554)
The HUMAN LEAGUE Open Your Heart (Virgin VS453)
WAH! (Pete Wylie) Somesay (Eternal SIMEY1)
1989
BANGLES I’ll Set You Free (CBS BANGS7)
The CREATURES (Siouxsie Sioux) Standing There (Wonderland SHE17)
MARTIKA I Feel The Earth Move (Epic 6552947)
SHAKESPEAR’S SISTER (Siobhan Fahey) Run Silent (FFRR F119)

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