With the departure of vocalist John Foxx and guitarist Robin Simon behind them, Vienna kicked off Ultravox's second phase with former Rich Kids vocalist Midge Ure at the helm. Trading Foxx's glam rock stance for Ure's aristocratic delivery, Vienna recasts the band as a melodramatic synth pop chamber ensemble with most of the group doubling on traditional string quartet instruments and the synthesizers often serving to emulate an orchestra. It was a bold move that took awhile to pay off (the first two singles, "Sleepwalk" and "Passing Strangers," went unnoticed), but when the monolithic title track was released, the Ure lineup became the band's most identifiable one almost overnight.
Digitally remastered and expanded two CD edition of the British band's 1986 album including a bonus disc featuring alternate, extended and live tracks. U-Vox was their eighth full album and the fifth of the band's most-recognizable incarnation, fronted by Midge Ure. It was also the last Ultravox album to reach the Top 10 in the UK Album Chart. Following the departure of original drummer Warren Cann, U Vox featured his replacement: Mark Brzezicki from Big Country. The sound moved away from the Electronic sound of earlier recordings and some unusual instrumentation was used, such as the Celtic sound of "All Fall Down" with instrumentation by The Chieftains. The album's final track, "All in One Day", was arranged and conducted by George Martin. U-Vox was the last Ultravox album with Midge Ure before the band split in 1988.
Originally released in 1983 as an EP, this is the soundtrack to the live video of Ultravox, from their 1983 tour (hence the subtitle, "The Soundtrack"). This is Ultravox at their live best, and thankfully the reissued CD is expanded, containing all of the songs from the video (but still not the entire concert). "Reap the Wild Wind" is brilliant live and comes screaming at the listener with an extreme amount of energy and emotion. The same can be said for "The Voice." Midge Ure gives his all throughout, but here he is the voice. "Vienna" sounds wonderful and is certainly a crowd-pleaser. Fans will enjoy this live collection.
Midge Ure's career, as fans well know, did not begin or end with Ultravox, and so If I Was: The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox attempts to give an overview of one of '80s' Britain's most popular singers. As a career retrospective goes, however, it's pretty spotty. The Scottish vocalist first found fame with the pop band Slik, who scored a chart topper with "Forever and Ever" in 1976. Unfortunately, you won't find that here, nor its hit follow-up, scored just as a car accident took the band out of the charts. Once recovered, Ure moved on. His first port of call, in 1978, was ex-Pistol Glen Matlock's punk/post-punk supergroup the Rich Kids, who released a single and album, although this compilation draws nothing from this period, either. The following year, with the Kids in disarray, Ure helped form the even more illustrious Visage. Joining him there was Ultravox's Billy Currie and, before the year was out, Ure was fronting two hit-bound bands. Visage gets short shrift here, with Ultravox invariably, if unfairly, better represented. But even this wasn't enough to keep the singer busy. In 1981, as both bands' albums and singles swept up the charts, Ure linked up with Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott for yet another hit, "Yellow Pearl".
Going by this album, Phil Lynott would have had a lot in common with Bob Geldof, with both of them writing songs that strove for memorable hooks and related to growing up in the rough end of Ireland. The Philip Lynott Album has some surprisingly sweet moments, considering Lynott's hard-rocking past with Thin Lizzy. It generated a bona fide European pop hit in a remodeled version of "Yellow Pearl" (co-written by Midge Ure of Ultravox), a sarcastic attack on Asian marketing methods.
Rejecting the abrasive guitars of their punk-era contemporaries in favor of lushly romantic synthesizers, Ultravox emerged as one of the primary influences on the British electro-pop movement of the early '80s. Formed in London in 1974, the group – originally dubbed Ultravox! – was led by vocalist and keyboardist John Foxx (born Dennis Leigh), whose interest in synths and cutting-edge technology began during his school years…
After Ultravox dissolved in 1988 following the very disappointing album U-Vox, Billy Currie created two very interesting and good solo albums. But, in an attempt to revive his career, he teamed up with relatively unknown guitarist/vocalist Tony Fenelle and first created a new version of the classic Ultravox song "Vienna ("Vienna '92") and then created this album with co-producer Rod Gammons…
With the successes of Vienna and its follow-up, Rage in Eden, Ultravox's position in the music scene was unassailable, further fortified by frontman Midge Ure's foray into solo-dom with the summer 1982 hit cover of the Walker Brothers' "No Regrets." …
I had to hunt for this listing; for some odd reason this CD was buried in the Ultravox listings, almost lost! In any case, this is a great compilition of early Ultravox recordings, picking the cream off their first three albums, before Midge Ure and "Vienna" catapulted them to worldwide acclaim and popularity. But these songs were just as dynamic and moving. This version of Ultravox, of course, had a different lead singer, that being the stylish John Foxx.
As the title suggests, Ultravox were in a gray mood as they launched into their seventh studio LP, their previous existential angst now pooling around personal anguish. The album's title track was a study in languorous melancholy, where the emotional pain lingered on and on. And why would it ever dissipate, when romance is forever doomed, as "When the Time Comes" exquisitely illustrated? Even "One Small Day," the most musically celebratory song on the set, battles depression but dismally loses the war. No wonder Ultravox were so keen to escape far into the past, with "Man of Two Worlds" taking them back to the gloriously romanticized days of the Celts. The modern world, in contrast, was filled with terrors, both emotional ("A Friend I Call Desire") and global. There was the omnipresent yellow peril to fear; but if "White China" warned of the dangers of creeping communism, the nation sworn to protect its citizens from a Stalinistic embrace proves just as nefarious on "Heart of the Country".