With the departure of John Foxx the rest of the band decided to continue, but with no record company, no manager, no singer, no guitarist (Robin Shears) and no money, things looked a little bleak. The actual order was: kicked off the label, rehearse, tour the States, split up and arrive back in England. Billy then met Midge at Billy's (not the house but the nightclub, which was to become Blitz, run by Steve Strange and Rusty Egan), they had previously worked together in Visage and when Midge heard that Ultrvox had split he thought "Ultravox - we're destined, we're made for each other!"

These early days were tough, both parties brought with them their share of baggage, Midge was bearing the brunt of the Rich Kids breakup with the record company being owed four albums, he also owed Slik money, Island was asking that the next record company Ultravox signed for paid them what they were owed. So they kept the new alliance quiet and went into the studio to rehearse together, after writing a couple of songs they went their separate ways for about half a year. Billy worked with Gary Numan, Warren worked with Zaine Griff, Chris did some photography and Midge went on tour with Thin Lizzy.

They eventually came to some agreement with the record companies.The new band got a loan and went to the States to tour for six weeks. They chose there for two reasons, firstly the clubs were set up with in-house systems and alot more organised than England so they didn't have to cart that around, secondly they wouldn't be under the microscope like they would be in England. On returning home they played a gig in London, Chrysalis were impressed and told them to go into the studio to put something on tape. They wrote 'Sleepwalk', which was to become the first single, and most of the album before the company actually signed them. They then spent 10 days mixing it in Germany.


Vienna

Reviewed in the NME

It's been years since the release of Ultravox's last album 'Systems of Romance', but on the surface little has changed. This is surprising considering the departure of their passionate programmer John Foxx who, going by his first solo record 'Metamatic', took the blueprints with him and subsequently inproved on them.
Foxx was bothe the spirit and driving force of the band. He reputedly introduced their all synthesizer line up, using them to flesh out his obsessions with European art - namely German Electronic music and Frnch New Wave movies. But with Ultravox he never quite realised his potential; thus when he split, he left them with a legacy of only partially evolved ideas that they've nevertheless decided to putsue.
Unlike Foxx, however, they haven't developed them to any degree. In Midge Ure they've got a singer capable of approximating Foxx's passion, but they need a new writer to match his new-found precision. 'Vienna' is an album of gaudy, sometimes magnificent, but mostly hollow edifaces, housing songs that replace Foxx's elliptical imaginary with clumsily verbose descriptions of similar scenery.
Whereas before they would draw upon European ideas direct, 'Vienna' is seemingly derived from Hollywood films of the continent, like Julia. It's similarly full of glamour and lacking in tue essence. Songs are cluttered with suitable modernisms and daft statements, like "Is a European legacy / A culture for today?" ('New Europeans').
In 'Private Lives' they update Scott Fitzgerald's all-night parties, at which the gay young things dance to writhing synthesizers.
However, the opening instrumental 'Astradyne' is okay, combining as it does primitive stomp and stirring synthetic romp.
By side two, though, Kraftwerk's influence becoes overbearing. 'Mr X', a scnty mystery too obviously stated, could have come directly from 'Man Machine', with it's gently see-sawing stacatto rhythms. The following 'Western Promise' is more Hutter stutter, while the title track is saved by Ure's overblown delivery and a fine arrangement that contrasts manufactured noise with the more natural sound of Billy Currie's viola.
Yet, despite their wanton plagiarism and less clearly defined ideas, 'Vienna' will probably be the album that makes Ultravox, because, unfettered of Foxx's commitment, they're free to compromise themselves a touch to suit contemporary tastes. Ultravox of today fall somewhere between Midge Ure's hard rock poise and their old art school pose. Less aloof and more willing, their obsession with style fits present tastes.
But if passion ever comes into fashion again, they'll mourn Foxx's departure.

Chris Bohn - NME 12th July 1980

 
In a quiet street washed by the rain, the room within the home
A lonely man sits cheek to cheek, with unique designs in chrome
The mellow years have long gone by, but now he sits alone
He has a brand new radio, but never turns it on
New Europeans
Young Europeans
New Europeans
A photograph of lovers lost, lies pressed in magazines
Her eyes belong to a thousand girls, she's the wife who's never seen
Their educated son has left, in search of borrowed dreams
His television's in his bed, he's frozen to the screen
New Europeans
Young Europeans
New Europeans
On a crowded beach washed by the sun, he puts his headphones on
His modern world revolves around the synthesizer's song
Full of future thoughts and thrills, his senses slip away
He's a European legacy, a culture for today
New Europeans
Young Europeans
New Europeans
Young Europeans

 

Ultravox


Rage in Eden

Internationally acclaimed for their stunning album
"Vienna". Ultravox now unveils "Rage in Eden",
a captivating new album which takes their brilliant
style another step further.

Promo Poster

Away from some of the early guitar rock and starkness of Vienna we find a fluidity with driving sequencers layered over a solid beat, soaring vocals, backward reverb, guitars used more for effect than rhythm, full string synths soothing and shocking the album into a distinctive and diverse classic of the early '80's synth movement.

The first single released is "The Thin Wall" (incidentally Gary Numan entered the charts at 4 with "She's Got Claws" and OMD entered at 21 with "Souveneir" a week later) which enters the UK charts at number 21 an peaks at 10 (12th September). The other single from the album is "The Voice" (initially in clear vinyl) which peaks at 22 (21st November).

Me:
"For now throw your mind back to 1981, somewhere in the German wilderness you were making my favourite Ultravox album - what are the lyrics semi-hummed between the choruses and verses on the title track of Rage in Eden. Any ideas?"

Warren Cann:
"That's easy... The 'ooh-ah-um-oya-ay' lyrics are actually 'Oh, I remember death in the afternoon' backwards...
We often liked to use backward reverb (leads into the sound, rather than afterwards as a 'tail') and backwards guitars. To get that effect you must turn the 2-inch multi-track tape over and run it through the machine backwards; as a consequence track 24# becomes track 1#, track 3# becomes track 22#, etc.
It can be a little difficult to work out just where you are on the tape, it's easy to get lost or confused so you have to shuttle around quite a bit to find just exactly where you want to be (and then you have to double and triple-check!).
One day we were working on "Death In The Afternoon' and, during the course of doing something backwards (and having various 'open' track channels up on the mixing desk so we had some location reference points), we heard some backing vocals for the Chorus in reverse. Backwards, it sounded fantastic, like another language or a chant or...whatever. It gave us an idea...
We copied it across 'as-is' to a stereo two-track tape, and then copied the backwards sound to a fresh reel of multi-track running the 'right way'. From there we built up the song, 'Rage In Eden.'
'Rage' is my favourite album, too, from our time with Midge."

And we all wondered just what they did at Conny Plank's place for so long.

“We were always sort of a little bit out of time with everything else that was going on. Although the punk thing was like contemporary to us, we were never actually involved with it. We decided to always maintain our own way the whole time.”
Chris Cross (1981)

 


We sit and watch these lifeless forms
Stark and petrified
The high suspense of an empty stage drawing in clutching to its breast
With murmured words we sigh and focus on the main facade
Beyond the hard reluctant windows
News from magazines
We wrote their names on books we'd borrowed as if to bring us closer still
And threw it all away to focus on the main facade
Rage in Eden jigsaw sequence
But no-one could see the end
And they were the new gods
And they shone on high
Their heavy perfume on the night sucked them down in red tide
All is through the looking glass focus on the main facade
Rage in Eden jigsaw sequence
But no-one could see the end
Disciples of the new way
Portraits in the new sand
See when they run their longest mile holding caps in wet hands
Eyes upon them try to focus on the main facade
Rage in Eden jigsaw sequence
But no-one could see the end

Of course there is always the music press:

"Rage in Eden is an uneasy blend of styles, borrowing a bit from
Vienna here, adding a smidgeon of Rich Kids there."

Trouser Press

"...they sound inhuman...they sound fascist..."

Creem

"Confirmation, consolidation and CLASS."

Melody Maker

"Tepid in extreme...a complete lack of ideas."

Record Mirror

"Possibly the most nouveaux romantique album of our time.
Pluck those synthetic heart strings."

Sounds

What about the album cover:

"A rare example of an arty concept executed without a trace of pomposity."

Virgin Yearbook

On the road they even made it down here to Australia where they spent some time in the studio reworking a couple of songs for single release and recording an unknown track that was never released with the band keeping all copies of the tapes.

5 February 1982

Palaise Theatre, Melbourne

8 February 1982

Capitol Theatre, Sydney

12 February 1982

Festival Theatre, Brisbane

The Melbourne concert:

The Thin Wall
We Stand Alone
New Europeans
I Remember
Mr X
Accent on Youth
Your Name
Vienna
Passing Strangers
Sleepwalk
The Voice

Quaret

Released in October 1982, produced by George Martin and cover by Peter Saville again. As the follow-up to "Rage in Eden" it is streamlined with a more consistent sound - tight, controlled and classically built. It follows the September release of the first single "Reap the Wild Wind" (#11 in UK - 30/10/82), the singles "Hymn" (#7 in UK - 18/12/82), Visions in Blue" (#14 in UK - 2/4/83) and "We Came to Dance" (#19 in UK - 18/6/83) being released later.


Face in the window in the night.
Caught for a second by the light.
Ashes of memories still aglow. (Only for you)
Portraits and pictures you once saw.
Visions in blue.
Read while the letters still remain.
Sip from the wine of youth again.
Oaths made in silence still return. (Only for you)
Cast like a shroud your clutching arm.
Visions in blue.
Catch aimless smiles from passers-by.
Blistered and broken in reply.
Breath seems to mist the hazy view. (Only for you)
Tears coat your lifeless eyes with dew.
Visions in blue.
Visions in blue.
Ashes of memories still aglow.
Portraits and pictures you once saw.
Face in the window in the night.
Caught for a second by the light.
Ashes of memories still aglow. (Only for you)
Portraits and pictures you once saw.
Visions in blue.

Lament

The singles were "One Small Day" (#24 in UK - 18/2/84), "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes" (#4 in UK - 9/6/84) and "Lament" (#19 in UK - 21/7/84).


When pale turns to pink
With a soft unnerving ease
And all you've built around
May just tumble to the ground
We stand or fall
With your future in another's hands
We stand or fall
When your life is not your own
When white turns to red
In the not too distant days
Will force and misery
Be the life you have to lead?
We stand or fall
With your children in anothers world
We stand or fall
When your town is not your own
White China
White China
When crimson takes a hold
When the lights go down on all you've ever known
When all you'll ever do
Is worked out for you
We stand or fall
When the thoughts you have are not your own
We stand or fall
When the freedom slips away


Discography

7"

  • Sleepwalk/Waiting
  • Passing Strangers/To Face (Live)
  • New Europeans (Japan only - due to use in a commercial)
  • Vienna/Passionate Reply
  • All Stood Still/Alles Klar
  • The Thin Wall/I Never Wanted To Begin
  • The Voice/Paths And Angles
  • Reap The Wild Wind/Hosanna (In Excelsis Deo)
  • Hymn/Monument
  • Visions In Blue/Break Your Back
  • We Came To Dance/Overlook
  • OneSmall Day/Easterly
  • Dancing With Tears In My Eyes/Building
  • Lament/Heart Of The Country (Instrumental)
  • Heart Of The Country/Man Of Two Worlds
  • Love's Great Adventure/White China (Live)
  • Same Old Story/3
  • All Fall Down/Dreams?
  • All In One Day/Stateless

12"

  • Passing Strangers/Face To Face (Live)/Kings Lead Hat(Live)
  • Vienna/Passionate Reply/Herr X
  • All Stood Still/Alles Klar/Keep Talking
  • The Thin Wall/I Never Wanted To Begin
  • The Voice/Paths And Angles/Private Lives (live)/All Stood Still (live)
  • Reap The Wild Wind/Hosanna (In Excelsis Deo)
  • Hymn/Monument/The Thin Wall (Live)
  • Visions In Blue/Break Your Back/ The Wild Wind (Live)
  • We Came To Dance/Overlook
  • One Small Day (Special Remix)/One Small Day/Easterly
  • Dancing With Tears In My Eyes/Building/Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
  • Lament/Heart Of The Country (Instrumental)/Lament
  • Heart Of The Country (Special Remix)/Heart Of The Country
  • Love's Great Adventure/White China (Live)/Man Of Two World's (Instrunental)
  • Same Old Story/3/All In One Day (Instrumental)
    • All Fall Down/Dreams?/All Fall Down (Instrumental) Bonus - All Fall Down (Live)/Dream On (Live)
  • All In One Day/The Prize (Live)/Stateless

Albums

  • Vienna
  • Rage In Eden
  • Quartet
  • Monument - The Soundtrack
  • Lament
  • The Collection
  • U-Vox
  • BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert - 1981
  • Rare Volume 1
  • Rare Volume 2
We walked in the cold air.
Freezing breath on a window pane,
Lying and waiting.
The man in the dark in a picture frame,
So mystic and soulful.
A voice reaching out in a piercing cry,
It stays with you until
The feeling has gone only you and I.
It means nothing to me.
This means nothing to me.
Oh, Vienna.
The music is weaving
Haunting notes, pizzicato strings,
The rhythm is calling.
Alone in the night as the daylight brings,
A cool empty silence.
The warmth of your hand and a cold grey sky,
It fades to the distance.
The image has gone only you and I.
It means nothing to me.
This means nothing to me.
Oh, Vienna.
This means nothing to me.
This means nothing to me.
Oh, Vienna.

Personnel

Name: James Ure
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 10 St.
Sign: Libra
Birth date: 10/10/53
Birthplace: Glasgow
Ambition: To carry on regardless
Turn-ons: BBC2, Saturday afternoon and night
Turn -offs: Working for a living
Favourite food: Japanese
Preferred performers: Too many to list
All time favourite song: Itchycoo Park (Small Faces)
Best films: Casablanca
Favourite reading matter: My Wicked, Wicked Ways (Errol Flynn)
Favourite outfit: Old suit
Perfect evening: Tonight
Desert island companion: Leslie-Ann Down

Name: Billy Currie
Birth date: 1/4/52

Name: Christopher Allen
Birth date: 14/7/52

Name: Warren Cann
Birth date: 20/5/52
Birthplace: Victoria, Canada