Ultravox

8-24-11

Ultravox

Are they still together? Possibly a version of this band still exists – but I only like ‘em w/ John Foxx

Did you ever see them play live? Oh, yes – numerous times.  Both with and without Foxx!

Anything you want / need by them?  Perhaps audiophile editions of the first 3 albums?

You really should own / hear:

  1. Ultravox (1977)
  2. Ha! Ha! Ha! (1977)
  3. Systems Of Romance (1978)

A tremendously charismatic band on stage, circa ’78.  “Touch & Go” was a highlight – finally committed to vinyl after John Foxx left the band (on “Metamatic”).  Always just the right amount of “abrasive” – with the ‘scraping’ violin…

Definitely a band that straddled the line between progressive rock and punk rock.  “Ha! Ha! Ha!” is definitely the central work in their canon.  It works both ways!

“Systems Of Romance” has the polish that “Ha! Ha! Ha!” is missing.  It’s a very easy record to hear!  Not many rough edges.

I was always majorly turned off of this band because of their debut album being produced by Brian Eno, which such flouncing and fanfare.  I came back to the debut once “Ha! Ha! Ha!” made such an impression on me.  By the time I got to see them play live, they were already on their way out of the pool hall.  To be honest, I was surprised that they decided to continue without John Foxx.

When the CD’s got re-mastered, most of the non-LP singles got added to the CD’s; a very good thing!  The original 45’s are really quite good, for the most part.  I have Jim Donato to thank for helping me (nearly) complete my collection, by providing the one UK Island 45 I could never find: “Quirks” b/w “Modern Love”.

I remember well when the colored vinyl 12” singles came into the distributor – people clamored for them, without having any idea what the music was like – they made clear and white vinyl records, m-a-a-a-n!  “Hey, give me one or two of those!”, I remember one vinyl whore barking at me.  “You aren’t going to like the music”, I thought.  Oh, wait – he wasn’t going to listen to it.  Nice.  Age 20, in the music business.  Yikes!

I’ve had people be surprised that I like Ultravox, over the years.  I always have to clarify my fandom by saying “Only with John Foxx”.  “Ha! Ha! Ha!” still kicks my butt.  Stop reading this hippie dribble and go and find an LP or CD of it.

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One Response to Ultravox

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    Many people have no idea of the John Foxx era. It is almost two different bands. One art. The other craft. Without Foxx, the remaining band were still consummate craftsmen at the peak of their form; “Vienna” is actually the logical successor to “Systems Of Romance” – as long as you don’t listen to the lyrics! Which are a clumsy approximation of what Foxx was doing without any understanding of his process, goals and tropes. At least with Foxx they had good lyrics! “Vienna” causes me such cognitive dissonance now. The music is incredible yet highly ill-served by the crude, faux-Foxx lyrical gumbo.

    Stinging Irony Department: I remember reading an interview with Ultravox at the time of
    Vienna” in Dogfood, our local “new wave” free paper. They were crowing about how mean old Foxx never let them wrote lyrics and now they all got to write them now in the new, egalitarian Ultravox! Yeah. For one album. By the time of their followup to “Vienna” new vocalist Midge Ure had already clamped down on the lyric issue. His way or the highway. Meet the new boss…

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