Retro Album Review
Ultravox Vienna Chrysalis Records 1980
It must have been pretty intriguing back in 1980 to see the multi talented musician/vocalist Midge Ure, teen idol frontman in teen band Slick ( Forever & ever ) be reborn to the elegant shirt and tie attire gentleman with Gable sideburns and become the second Ultravox frontman replacing John Foxx who had gone on to pursue a solo career. A huge change for Midge in terms of musical direction and image but a wise decision that took a lot of guts.
Their fourth album release in 1980 , the first with Midge Ure , was a post punk stylish electronica creation named '
Turned out it was going to be taken very seriously. '
The single 'Vienna' was like a musical version of a heart wrenching , haunting romance novel from the 1940s. There are numerous theories as to what the song is actually about , one being that it's about holiday romance and how sad & painful it feels when it comes to an inevitable end.
'Private Lives' possesses timing and precision from drummer Warren Cann that takes your breath away. His vocal delivery on the slightly spooky 'Mr x' was outstanding , very deep and mysterious. Billy Currie expresses his many talents with a synthesiser with much intensity , not to mention his skill with a violin. Chris Cross has excellent bass playing skills that can be clearly heard on 'Passing Strangers'.
Last but not least Midge Ure with his intense & powerful vocals and strong guitar riffs, just listen to 'All Stood Still '.
'Astradyne', the albums intro tune is an instrumental that had so much energy and creativity it was outstanding and sent you to a place of escape. Ultravox really knew how to stir the imagination with their use of sound , lyrics that created strong imagery and talent for creating mood.
The most appropriate & most complimentary word to sum up this album would be hope. There was a positive underlying message in this album that change in the Industry was needed and change had arrived. A band that were not afraid of being labelled and who were willing to experiment with many unique sounds and push the boundaries.
A historical masterpiece, the epitome of New wave /Electronica with a timeless quality.
Ultravox are back and are as strong live as ever.
1. Astradyne 5. Sleepwalk 9. All stood still
2. New Europeans 6. Mr X
3. Private lives 7. Western promise
4. Passing strangers 8.