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The first and only video game concept album

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The first and only video game concept album

At the height of video craze of the early 80’s, I was swept up in the wave like a lot of young kids my age, playing every chance I could at the arcades and at home. 





Also, as a big fan of funny music at that age, every Sunday I listened to the Dr. Demento radio show, the DJ who discovered Weird Al Yankovic, and there were a lot of video game parody songs at the time. You may remember the best known, and highest charting of them all, Pac Man Fever by Buckner and Garcia.

I liked the song myself as a kid, it was a hit peaking at #9 on the singles chart, and they also had a full album, Pac Man Fever, and both went gold. (Gold for a single is a million copies sold, gold for an album is half a million copies.) Looking up whatever research I could find on the ‘Net, the full record was called a “concept album” on Wikipedia, a description that hadn’t really occurred to me before.

For those who aren’t familiar, a concept album means all the songs on an album tell a single story or revolve around a particular theme. There have been a number of brilliant concept albums in history, like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and there have also been disasters like Kiss’s Music From the Elder. (The Styx album Kilroy Was Here, like a lot of concept albums, was definitely a bunch of grandiose, pompous nonsense, but I still have a soft spot for Mr. Roboto).

The songs on the Buckner Garcia album opened with the video game music and sound effects, and the album also included “Froggy’s Lament,” “Ode to a Centipede,” “Do the Donkey Kong,” and “Goin’ Berzerk.”

Although none of the other songs stuck, the songwriting duo hit the video game thing at the right time just before the market collapsed. 

Years later, the songs from the album even made it on to Rock Band, which put the duo a little behind the gaming curve years later, although it did come in on the 30th anniversary of Pac Man.

The duo have their own website, bucknergarcia.com, where you can get the album on CD for $9, as well as shirts and mugs and other merchandise.

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