I owe you all an apology. I just looked at the roster of the last handful of posts and realized, wow this has gotten grim and depressing. I am so, so sorry about that.
Let’s lighten things up. A lot.
What is it?
Aliens Ate My Buick is Thomas Dolby’s third studio record, released in 1988 with a resounding, undeserved, commercial thud.
How does it sound?
Karmann Ghia plates say “Sampler Mix”:
Why this pick?
Unless you’re a tech nerd of a particular stripe, mostly what you know Thomas Dolby for is that “Blinded Me With Science” song. He had other hit songs on the radio! Just, unless you’re already a fan of his, you probably can’t bring any to mind.
“Airhead,” from this record, is basically the last one.
And that’s a shame, because Aliens Ate My Buick is a record made by a guy who seems to want to break out in a lot of interesting directions with pop music. After this one he basically made quieter stuff, easy-listening pop songs, pleasant enough but not as engaging.
Not everything on this album works but even the failures are at least interesting. I think it’s worth a listen, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
Which songs are the highlights?
The album kicks off with a Robin Leach (the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” guy) voice-over at the start of “The Key To Her Ferrari,” which is a ridiculously fun romp that I try not to think about the lyrics too much of. After that comes “Airhead,” the best of the radio-oriented pop songs on offer here.
Late on the album is the deliciously groovy “The Ability To Swing” followed by the sprawling, moody eight-minutes-and-some-odd of “Budapest By Blimp.”
Which songs don’t work so well?
“Hot Sauce” was another of the singles from the record, and it’s not nearly as fun as “Airhead” nor does it age particularly well.
The album’s finale is “May The Cube Be With You,” which I can take or leave depending on mood. (Usually I leave it, though.)
Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?
It was always going to be Aliens. I like Dolby’s first record, The Golden Age of Wireless, and that one has my all-time favorite of his songs (“One Of Our Submarines”) but it’s still a debut record and I still find Aliens much more interesting to examine.
Any final thoughts?
If you get into Dolby’s music and want something a bit out of the ordinary to add to your collection, grab the Gate To The Mind’s Eye soundtrack. The Mind’s Eye videos were VHS releases highlighting the cutting edge of computer-generated graphics. They look quaint as heck to us in the twenty-teens, but in the early 1990s they were super cool! (Really. Honest. Very very cool. Trust me.) I have two of the soundtracks, this one and its predecessor: Jan Hammer’s work for Beyond The Mind’s Eye. (I also recommend that one!)
I think we could use more upbeat pop music, don’t you? Let’s do that.