Buckner & Garcia

The greatest goddamned album ever recorded.

Followed by an inferior re-recording of the greatest goddamned album ever recorded.

*Pac-Man Fever LP
*Pac-Man Fever CD

* Pac-Man Fever LP - CBS 1982. *
Rating = 10

This is a for real 10. I'm too old to be into hipster kitsch silliness, and I don't pretend to like things just because they're from a bygone era and seem ridiculous and laughable to today's knowing, jaded youth people. I like what I like cuz I like it - oh yeah! And that includes the album Pac-Man Fever by Buckner & Garcia.

My father purchased the album for me when I was nine years old. At the time I was a videogame fiend and extremely excited about this brand new album of songs devoted to some of my favorite games. But I found a few of the tunes a bit lacking. "Do The Donkey Kong" seemed more suited to Bob Seger than an album in my collection, and "Ode To A Centipede" was too sad sounding! So sad sounding! But here I am, 18 years later, and I f-oldin' love every song on here. It's ludicrous that a bunch of novelty songs should be this catchy and well written. Why would a song about Berzerk sound like a gorgeous love ballad? Why would a song about Frogger sound as nouveau-thinking as Kraftwerk? And why for the love of Jesus' smelly vaginer does "Ode To A Centipede" sound so SAD? SO VERY SAD!!!!!

But I'm not alone in realizing the genius of these pop songs. I was playing the record tonight as my fiancee cleaned the apartment, and I noticed her singing along with pretty much every song once she'd heard the chorus once and knew how it went. She even laughed at the "Do ya have Nikes for all of 'em?" line in "Ode To A Centipede"! Quite simply, Buckner & Garcia knew what they were doing. The songs, driven by synth and guitar, cover a ridiculous variety of moods while maintaining intelligent pop melody throughout. And they incorporate the videogame sounds into the songs in such a way that the bleeps and bloops become an integral part of each song's mood. It's very bizarre how they pull it off, but it works so MAGICALLY!

Keep in mind that the record was made for children and thus sounds a lot faker and synthier than a decent adult album should, but this was the early '80s so you shouldn't be surprised to hear this kind of production. What you SHOULD be surprised about is how you can't get any of the GODDAMNED SONGS OUT OF YOUR HEAD!!!! Why didn't they record a follow-up?

Oh, that's right. Self-respect.

Reader Comments

savage1561@juno.com (Evan Streb)
Ribit. Go Froggy go. This album is hilarious. Easy ten. Of course I love it so much because I love video games. Even if you never play video games you'll still love because the songs are all well-played and rank up with some of the best pop music of the day. Unlike most other novelty records, THIS one sounds as though they put A LOT of time and effort into the non-video game portion of the song. I mean, "Pac Man Fever" has an AWESOME guitar solo! "Do The Donkey Kong" is lacking??? It's the best non-"Pac Man Fever" song on the album!! DUM-DA-DUM DUM DWEEDLE DWEEDLE DWEEDLE DWEEDLE DWEE!!!! Come on! Come on! Come on! Come on! Do the Donkey Kong!

Recently, Buckner and Garcia did put out a followup called Now and Then which you can get on mp3.com. It contains unplugged versions of "Pac Man Fever" and "E.T. I Love You", along with some other songs they've done over the years, one of which is called "Pog Wild" and is a song they wrote about the Pog craze of the mid-90s. IT'S A SONG ABOUT POGS!!! How amazing is that?

Oh, one more thing, if you're gonna buy Pac Man Fever, make sure you get the original 1982 vinyl recording because the CD is a really crappy "re-recorded" version. CBS owns the rights to the original masters and won't release the original recording on CD (bastards!). If you listen REALLY CLOSELY on the vinyl version to the very beginning of "Pac Man Fever" you can hear somebody ordering a pastrami sandwich.

bsloop01@concordnc.com (Beth Sloop)
"ode to a centipede" is the best song on here. it is a bit fatalistic(you can't run away..), so i can see the sad thing. maybe that makes it into a profound statement . naah, just wishful thinking on my part. by the way mark, have you ever listened carefully to bob seger? he's the funniest lyricist ever. and the way he sings his heart out regardless of what he's singing about. his overwhelming earnestness makes the lyrics even funnier (ex in against the wind where he sings about "runnin' eight miles a minute")

i don' t own this album but while lookin' around other sites i saw at allmusic guide gave 3 stars too pac-man-fever by Buckner & Garcia (when i say 3 i don't mean 3 out of 5 which is the way allmusic guide rates albums it was actually 1 1/2) isn't that funny you gave it 10 and they gave it 3 ha! ha! ha! ahhhh! (sigh) somtimes there is no way around the ultimate shallowness of my life.

Wow, I love this album, I first heard PMF when I was on in holiday in San Diego, CA, then I was given the album that Christmas!!! I really think it stands out as something so different from anything that has gone before (or after still!). My personal favourite is 'Goin' Bezerk' as I really think it tries to portray itself as a love song whilst still holding true to the arcade game! Buckner and Garcia you rock!!! Pac Man 4EVER!

procha@optonline.net (Pete Rocha)
I know why the Centipede song sounds so sad. Because it's a sad game. The control panel of the machine was usually covered in random stranger dirt, that roller ball would catch your fleshy young fingers and snarl the hell out of them, and every quarter spent usually got you about 45 seconds of play time unless you were some Homo Centipede Sissy Master. They should've made the song a dirge or funeral march. Robotron, now THAT was a motherfucking game. Beef eating, speed shooting, punk rock kind of video game, unlike the fag trap that was Centipede.

oliver5200@hotmail.com (Adam Bruneau)
Good god this album's amazing. I used to listen to MP3s of the first 4 or 5 songs all the time and I couldn't find any more of them...luckily I stumbled upon a 50-cent vinyl copy in a thrift store and, well, this is definitely a fun album. I put it on for my friends and we couldn't stop laughing for 15 mins. Heck, even the vinyl sleeve has Pac Man patterns on it!

Btw, I feel like shit for doing this but I also want to use this space to plug my new album, just cos it's probably the only place on the net where it's really appropriate. It's called "Shakestation" and the group is Super Madrigal Bros. and it's full of authentic 14th and 15th and 16th century medieval music pieces rearranged and melted down into regal, nostalgic, psychedelic, kitschy 8-bit versions of themselves. All of the sounds were sampled from late 70s/early 80s 4- and 8-bit machines and anyways just go to www.supermadrigalbros.com or www.darla.com if you haven't already turned away!

jbhippie@hotmail.com (James Hippie)
I haven't had the privilege of hearing the entire Pac Man Fever album, but I do own the Pac Man Fever single, which is right up there with Mr. Jaws and Candle in the Wind as one of the best novelty songs ever written. I'm sure that Ode To A Centipede is indeed very sad - if nothing else the video games of the 1980's mirrored the Sisyphusian absurdity of modern life, a grim comment on our collective existential struggles and failures. Was there any way to "win" at Centipede or Pac Man or Asteroids? Nope, just a pointless barrage of obstacles that sapped our quarters while we hurtled forward into the void of nothingness. I'm confident that if Albert Camus had lived he would have written a song about Galaga.

I also wanted to say how much I've enjoyed this site. I find myself spending less time looking at hirsute chubby girl porn so that I can browse the excellent reviews and comments found here. I just wish you were still doing the Bribery Reviews - I have some horrible stuff that would be worth the 4 bucks just to see a review of it in print! Anyway, keep up the good work!

I actually had the Pac-Man Fever album at one point in my life but I can't seem to find it.

thecrypticwizard@yahoo.com (Christopher Sutler)
Pac-Man fever was probably the funniest thing before Weird Al, and since I like Al that is a compliment. I had every single game mentioned on the album on either my Atari or my computer--some of them both, and I would listen to the album while I played the games. It was a lot of fun to listen to and the sound effects incorporated into the game rock. About the only song I wasn't *too* crazy about was Froggy's Lament--I still like it, but I thought all the other songs were better.

I am old enough to remember when this LP first came out.

I was living in Sierra Vista, AZ. when I first heard "Pac-Man Fever", by Buckner & Garcia. (For the longest time, I thought their names were "Buck & Garfield".)

I was a ripe old 5 1/2 years old, and I was just entering the craze of video games.

-Later on, I heard the entire LP of "Pac-Man Fever". I just loved the title track, along with "Hyperspace", "Froggy's Lament", and "Do the Donkey Kong". I admit, I couldn't hang with "The Defender". Going on with growing up, however, I outgrew video games, and became an adult.

-Being in music, I recently auditioned for an '80s cover band, and I got to thinking, "Whatever happened to those songs?" So I hunted them up on the Internet, and lo & behold! There they were, on Amazon.com. I listened to the samplers, and the memories came follding back, like a sweet alcoholic bliss, before the barfing.

I am debating about writing to Buckner & Garcia, and asking them if they'd be pissed off if I wrote a "follow-up" LP to theirs. What do you think???

Add your thoughts?

Pac-Man Fever CD - K-Tel 1999
Rating = 7

I I got a copy of The Shining and I'm heading towards the TV
I don't have a lot of interest, but a special guest appeals to me

He's got a bald head on his shoulders and a snowplow full of care
He's gonna get killed with an axe just as soon as he gets there

Because he's Scatman Crothers! (Scatman Crothers!)
Drivin' me crazy! (Drivin' me crazy!)
Scatman Crothers! (Scatman Crothers!)
Goin' out of my mind! (Goin' out of my mind!)
Scatman Crothers! (Scatman Crothers!)
Goin' out of my mind! (Goin' out of my mind!)

At the time, nobody knew quite what to make of Buckner & Garcia's full-length musical tribute to African-American film actors, but over the years Black Man Fever became something of a c

Hang on! I just had another wonderful "Pac-Man Fever" memory flood over me! I first heard the record over at family friend Mark Springsteen's house, as he owned the original single. Never a very lyrical child, I was at the time actually more fond of the b-side - "Pac-Man Fever (Instrumental)." So a few weeks later my father bought me the single, and I couldn't wait to introduce my older brother to the exciting phenomenon. Being a brain surgeon even at such a young age, I put on the b-side. So this is what my brother heard:

*Pac-Man Noise*
Fake drums
Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh
Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh
Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh
Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh
Nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee
"Pac-Man Fever!"
Nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee
"Drivin' me crazy!"
Nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee
"Pac-Man Fever!"
Nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee
"Goin' out of my mind!"
Nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee
"Pac-Man Fever!"
Nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee
"Goin' out of my mind!"
*Fake drums and Pac-Man Noise*
Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun duh
Dun-da dun dun duh, Dun-da dun dun - and I think this was about the time he called me a fuckin' tard and walked out of the room. But you see, it's true what I was saying before; it's impossible to hear Buckner & Garcia and remain unchanged by the experience.

The bastards in the BMW who work for CBS Records have for years refused to release the top-selling Pac-Man Fever LP in the new-fangled digital format all the kids are talking about, so finally in 1999 Jerry & Gary took it upon themselves to re-record the entire album for the CD generation. See? Degeneration! (That was hilarious) Now please understand -- there are very, very few artists who could re-record a near-perfect album 16 years after the fact and have it come within a hair's width of the original version. This is why, for example, the Beatles didn't get back together in 1983 to re-record Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The thrill of creative discovery would have been long gone, they'd have had to shake John's rotting skeleton against the mic during his songs, and it would have been possible for them to get excited about songs that they'd played and heard a billion times before. Such is very obviously the case with Pac-Man Fever '99.

They DO try. The entire first side is in fact a pretty close copy of the original version (even most of the same sound effects are used), but the vocals seem a little bored (particularly in "Froggy's Lament") and there are a few minor differences that don't improve on anything (the "Pac-Man Fever" response vocals are all on one note rather than going south for the "-er"; the "Do The Donkey Kong" keyboard solo has a less circusy tone and the extended coda finds the singer pleading "Come on!" earlier in each repetition than in the original). All and still, it's hard to complain about side one. The K-Tel mixdown seems a bit emptier than the Columbia big-money production, but that may just be due to the 'improvements' in recording technology over the period.

Side two is a different matter altogether. Although the overriding melodies and performances are still mostly similar to the original versions, there are some really lame updates that kinda stink up the joint. First of all, the "Hyperspace" sound effect is much higher and more awkward than the original, and the group vocals in the chorus now sound like three rhythm-deaf teenagers talking into a flanger pedal. Next, they've deleted a key low note at the beginning of each "The Defender" verse, effectively converting the song from an emotional release into a blandly cheerful Elton John craptone. Thirdly, they've pumped up and altered the guitar 'lick' in "Mousetrap," making it sound less like a twisted, ugly new wave child's song than a dopey electric blues child's song. Finally, they fuck the turd out of "Goin' Berzerk"'s previously ass-gorgeous piano intro -- replacing the entire thing with some generic Phil Collinsy AOR flapdashery. The song itself is still pretty, but they totally kill the mood with that puss-ass intro and its accompanying puss-ass keyboard tone! You hear me??? "Puss-Ass"!!!

So it's settled. You can't repeat genius (especially on a K-Tel budget), and old people are less good than young people. Especially The Killers, with that song about "Mr. Zippity-Doo-Dah" or "Dr. Optimism" or whatever. Their singer totally sounds like Ozzy Osbourne, BTW, IMHO. LOL! BRB! SOG?

Also, for some reason I'd never noticed how every chorus on Pac-Man Fever is repeated 600,000,000 times. In this way, Buckner & Garcia forsoothingly anticipated Metallica's St. Anger recording of many years hence.

One other question, while we're having a rap session here -- why is Chevy Chase such an asshole? Everything I can find about him online is just about what a self-centered, mean, babyish, nerdy, offensive, unfunny prick he is! Do you know him? Why is he like that?

Add your thoughts?

Buy the inferior CD version HERE!

Or, for more songs about videogames, visit Mark Prindle's Record Review Guide!
(And then write some songs about videogames!)