"Clean, Clean" is a synthpop song by the British synthpop group The Buggles from their debut album The Age of Plastic. It was released as the album's third single on 24 March 1980 and was written by Trevor HornGeoff Downes and Bruce Woolley.

Background and release[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Along with "Video Killed the Radio Star", the song was co-written by Bruce Woolley. "Clean, Clean" was first recorded and originally released in 1979 by Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club. It was issued as a single in the Netherlands and Japan on 7" vinyl via Epic Records.[2] It was the only song that The Buggles fully wrote as a trio. "Video Killed the Radio Star" was also issued as a single by Woolley in 1979.[3] Both songs were included on the album English Garden, which was also issued under the title Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club.[4][5]

The single was released on 7" vinyl via Island Records across Europe, America and New Zealand.[6] In the UK, the single was manufactured and distributed by EMI Records Ltd.[1] The single included the B-side "Technopop" which was written by Downes and Horn. The song was originally exclusive to the single before it appeared as a bonus track on the 2000 remastered re-issue of The Age of Plastic album, amongst other re-issues of the album.[7]

The majority of the releases of the single featured the same track listing, however the main American release of the single featured "Astroboy (And the Proles on Parade)" as the B-side - an album track from The Age of Plastic.[8] Additionally, a promotional version of the single was released in America which featured a stereo and mono version of the song on each side.[9]

In America, the single was also issued on 12" vinyl as a scarce promotional release only.[10] This version featured an extended 12-inch version of the song, whilst the B-side was "Living in the Plastic Age", the duo's previous single release. The release also featured exclusive artwork.[11] The 12-inch version of "Clean, Clean" would later see release as a bonus track on the 2010 Japanese CD re-release of The Age of Plastic.[12]

Following the song's original release, it has appeared on three various artists compilations; the 1980 Warner Bros. Records compilation Troublemakers, the 1994 Oglio Records release Richard Blade's Flashback Favorites, Vol. 3 and the 1995 Polygram compilation Teenage Kicks: 46 Classic Punk & New Wave Tracks.[13]

Composition and critical reception[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The original version of "Clean, Clean" by Bruce Woolley plays at a length of 3 minutes and 16 seconds. The Buggles version of "Clean, Clean" runs for 3 minutes and 51 seconds, and is performed at a tempo of 160 beats per minute.[14] The 12-inch mix of the Buggles version included on the 2010 re-issue of The Age of Plastic plays for 5 minutes and 15 seconds.[12] Lyrically, the song follows the story of a young boy who grows out of being a gangster, and, despite not willing to do so, he will at least try to keep the fighting clean.[15]

Jeri Montesano of Allmusic highlighted the song as an album standout by labeling it an AMG Pick Track.[16] A review of the album from Audio magazine, noted "Clean, Clean" to be one of "best moments are those coauthored by Wooley" along with "Video Killed the Radio Star".[17] The Independent, on 3 October 2010, spoke of the song in a review of The Buggles' live performance "The Lost Gig" in London, where the author Simon Price stated The Age of Plastic, played in order, and accompanied by films generally involving old footage of things that once, like the songs, felt impossibly futuristic. Then again, minor hits such as "Clean Clean" and "Elstree" sound radiantly relevant now."[18] Krinein magazine's writer L. Vincent described the song as "pop-electronic", along with the album track "I Love You Miss Robot" and the single's own B-side "Technopop".[19] Nicholas Baker of Napster spoke of the song in a review of the album, stating that it was one of the songs from the album that Trevor Horn's "considerable songwriting prowess" was "evident" in.[20]

Performances[edit source | editbeta]Edit

On 10 April 1980, The Buggles appeared on the UK music show Top of the Pops where they mimed the song.[21][22] The band performed the song live on BBC Radio 1 on 4 October 1980.

On 28 September 2010, The Buggles reunited to play their first full-length live concert. The event was billed as "The Lost Gig" and took place at "Ladbroke Grove's Supperclub", Notting Hill, London, and was a fund raiser with all earnings going to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. Except "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "The Plastic Age" which the band had previously played together, "The Lost Gig" saw the first live performances of all songs from The Age of Plastic, and included Bruce Woolley performing vocals with Horn on "Clean, Clean".[23][24]

Track listing[edit source | editbeta]Edit

7" Single
  1. "Clean, Clean" - 3:54
  2. "Technopop" - 3:48
7" Single (American release)
  1. "Clean, Clean" - 3:54
  2. "Astroboy (And the Proles on Parade)" - 4:40
7" Single (American promo)
  1. "Clean, Clean (Stereo)" - 3:54
  2. "Clean, Clean (Mono)" - 3:54
12" Single (American promo)
  1. "Clean, Clean (Extended Version)" - 5:13
  2. "Living in the Plastic Age" - 5:09

Chart position[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1980) Peak


Germany (Media Control AG)[25] 60
UK Singles Chart (The Official Charts Company)[26] 38

Personnel[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Additional personnel[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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