Ultravox


Ultravox

Infobox musical artist
Name = Ultravox


Img_capt = Ultravox (Midge Ure) in concert, April 1984
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Alias =
Born =
Died =
Origin = London, England
Instrument =
Genre = New Wave
Synthpop
New Romantic
Glam rock (early)
Occupation =
Years_active = 1976–1988
1992–1996
Label = Island Records
Chrysalis Records
EMI
Polygram
Associated_acts = Tiger Lily, John Foxx, Billy Currie, Cowboys International, Faith Global, Neo, Ajanta Music, Midge Ure, Slik, The Rich Kids, Visage, Thin Lizzy, Helden, Big Country, Humania, Huw Lloyd-Langton Group
URL =
Current_members = John Foxx
Chris Cross
Stevie Shears
Warren Cann
Billy Currie
Robin Simon
Midge Ure
Mark Brzezicki
Tony Fenelle
Sam Blue
Vinny Burns
Tony Holmes
Gary Williams
Notable_instruments =

Ultravox (formerly Ultravox!) were a British New Wave band that rose to prominence in the late 1970s/early 1980s. They were one of the primary exponents of the British electronic pop music movement of the early 1980s. The band was particularly associated with the New Romantic movement, although it both pre- and post-dated New Romanticism by several years.This band had two major periods (1973 to 1979, and 1980 to 1986)in which it was, literally, "managed" by two different band leaders, whom, strangely enough, never played in the band at the same time.

Biography

Early years: Tiger Lily (1973-circa 1975)

The band was formed in 1973 on the initiative of vocalist and songwriter Dennis Leigh, and was originally known as Tiger Lily. The first lineup comprised Leigh plus Chris Cross (bass guitar) and Stevie Shears (guitar) [ [http://www.astradyne.org/e/ultravox_music_magazine.htm ] ] , and Warren Cann (drums) and Billy Currie (keyboards/violins) joined later in 1974 [ [http://www.discog.info/ultravox-interview.html ] ] . The group released one single in 1975, a cover of "Ain't Misbehavin'".

Ultravox!(the John Foxx years, 1976-1979)

In 1976, the singer changed his name to John Foxx and the band became "Ultravox!". (The exclamation mark was a reference to krautrock band Neu!, produced by Conny Plank, who later produced some Ultravox albums.) On the strength of their live act, they signed to Island Records in 1976, releasing their eponymous debut album in February 1977.

In common with many other bands which would go on to form Britain's punk and New Wave movements, Ultravox! drew inspiration from the art-school side of glam rock, from bands such as Roxy Music and The New York Dolls, plus David Bowie and Brian Eno's early pop albums. Their eponymous debut album was co-produced by Eno (whose next job after these sessions was working with Bowie on his "Low" album) and Steve Lillywhite. Sales were disappointing, and neither the album nor the associated single "Dangerous Rhythm" managed to enter the UK charts. Relations within the band were on an occasionally tenuous footing during this time as Foxx declared that he wished to live without emotions, a sentiment which was echoed on début album track "I Want to Be a Machine".

Ultravox returned later in 1977 with the punkier "Ha!-Ha!-Ha!", although sales of both the album and its lead single, "ROckwrok" (which, despite a chorus featuring the lines "Come on, let's tangle in the dark / fuck like a dog, bite like a shark" was played on BBC Radio 1), were still unimpressive, again failing to chart. Stevie Shears was sacked from the band between February and March 1978, after touring England, joining Cowboys International later in 1980. Although "Ha!-Ha!-Ha!" was dominated by guitars and electric violin, the final track, "Hiroshima Mon Amour", was a prototypical synthpop song. Arguably one of the first singles by a British band to feature a drum machine, the song pointed the way to Ultravox's developing direction as the energy of punk started to fade and the genre's more creative exponents sought a new direction. It remains a critical and fan favourite of the group's early incarnation, and was performed by the group on the "Old Grey Whistle Test". During 1978 the group quietly dropped the exclamation mark, becoming simply "Ultravox".

Their third album, 1978's "Systems of Romance", was recorded with producer Conny Plank and engineer Dave Hutchins at Connys Studio in rural Germany and featured a new guitarist, Robert Simon (ex-member of Ian North's Neo), who during his first days with the band he changed his name to Robin Simon in the music scene. Musically, the album was markedly different from Ultravox's earlier work, bringing synthesisers to the forefront of the group's sound. Island released a compilation of highlights from the group's first three albums in 1979, "Three into One", which was until the mid-1990s the most widespread of Ultravox's early releases. However, the album was also a commercial failure and as none of the albums had generated significant income, tensions within the band — particularly between Currie and Foxx — threatened the band's viability. Island dropped the band afterwards, which was the final nail in their coffin but Ultravox undertook a self-financed US tour at the beginning of 1979. Splitting after their final gig, near San Francisco, Foxx declared his intention to go solo, Simon chose to remain in the US and joined briefly The Futants, an american punk band, in New York, and the remaining members made their way back to a Britain in the midst of a "winter of discontent". Foxx subsequently signed to Virgin Records and released his most successful (and influential) album "Metamatic" in 1980. Billy Currie, all but broke, was then recruited by the rising star Gary Numan to play on his début solo album, "The Pleasure Principle", and its subsequent "Touring Principle" tour. Currie was a hero to Numan who had inwardly digested Ultravox's albums and had seen them play live several times.

Vienna!(The Midge Ure years, 1979-1988)

With the band seemingly over, Ultravox was then single-handedly revitalized by Midge Ure, who joined the band as vocalist and guitarist. An accomplished musician, he had already achieved minor success with semi-glam outfit Slik and Glen Matlock's more punk-inspired The Rich Kids, although in 1979 he was temporarily playing with hard rock band Thin Lizzy. Ure and Billy Currie had met whilst collaborating on the Visage project, a studio-based band fronted by New Romantic and nightclub impresario Steve Strange. Ure replaced John Foxx and Robin Simon for Ultravox's next album, "Vienna", which would become their most successful to date, far surpassing any of the previous Ultravox (or Foxx's) albums. As with "Systems of Romance", it was produced in Germany by Conny Plank. Ure knew of Ultravox's past, being a fan of "Systems" to the point where the new four-piece outfit (Ultravox mark three, often called "the classic line-up") played songs from that album on tours with Ure singing Foxx's lyrics. Released on Chrysalis Records in mid 1980, the "Vienna" album produced the band's first UK top 40 hit with "Sleepwalk", whilst the album itself peaked at #14. Some months later, however, the band achieved a substantial hit with the title track (inspired by Carol Reed's "The Third Man"). Accompanied by a highly distinctive video, the single peaked at #2 in early 1981 (infamously kept off the top spot by Joe Dolce's novelty hit "Shaddap You Face"). On the strength of the single, the album then re-entered the chart and reached #3 in early 1981.

This was soon followed by "Rage in Eden" (1981), with the band returning to Conny Plank's studio for what turned out to be a difficult recording session. The band had the difficult task of following the huge success of "Vienna" with something of equal stature. Whereas "Vienna" had been gigged a great deal prior to a three-week recording process, "Rage in Eden" took over three months and confounded people once more. Along with its singles "The Thin Wall" and "The Voice", the album featured a long track in three parts on the second side, leading some critics to decry the band as "the new Genesis".

Ultravox teamed up with producer George Martin for 1982's "Quartet", which became their most successful album in the U.S. and undertook a major world tour known as the Monument Tour. The tour was recorded and released as a live LP in 1983 and once again hit the UK top ten. Ure had quit from Visage by this time in order to concentrate solely on Ultravox (Currie remained with Visage for a while longer, but he too had left them by 1984).

1984's successful "Lament" continued the band's run of top ten albums and produced three top 40 hit singles, including the international hit "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes". However, this album was the last to feature the "classic" line-up of the band. Towards the end of 1984, a "greatest hits" compilation spanning the band's 1980s output was released entitled "The Collection". It was preceded by a new single, "Love's Great Adventure", which was accompanied by a popular Indiana Jones-style spoof video. "The Collection" went triple Platinum and reached #2 in the UK album chart, the band's highest ever peak.

At this time, Ure also co-wrote and helped produce the 1984 Band Aid single "Do They Know It's Christmas?". The group also appeared at Live Aid the following year and played four of their hit singles (Vienna, Reap the Wild Wind, Dancing with Tears in My Eyes and One Small Day). Later in 1985, Ure scored a #1 solo hit with "If I Was" and his solo album "The Gift" reached #2 in the UK.

Ultravox reconvened in 1986, but Warren Cann was fired from the band at the beginning of sessions for their "U-Vox" album. Cann emigrated to the US and retired from music to become an actor. Big Country's Mark Brzezicki took his place. The U-Vox album is widely regarded as the band's creative low point with even Currie (and later Ure) describing it as "unfocused". Although it continued their string of top ten albums in the UK, the relatively mediocre and declining performance of its singles prompted both Ure and Cross to leave the band. Ultravox officially split up in 1988. Ure subsequently concentrated on his solo career with varying levels of success, and Cross retired from music altogether and returned to his former career as a psychotherapist. Billy Currie and Robin Simon reunited in 1989 as the short-lived Humania, performing live shows but never making a release until 2006, when Currie released a Humania-recorded album, "Sinews of the Soul".

Reformation (1992-1996)

Currie reformed Ultravox again in 1992 with Tony Fenelle to record "Revelation", and later Sam Blue replaced Fenelle in a new five-piece Ultravox line-up, lending his voice to their final release, "Ingenuity" (1996).

An anthology of unreleased Ultravox material is currently in development. Fact|date=July 2008

In September 2008, both "Vienna" and "Rage In Eden" were released in digitally remastered 2-disc format with the second disc containing previously unreleased material. The other Chrysalis-era releases are planned for similar future releases.

Discography

tudio albums

*"Ultravox!" (1977)
*"Ha!-Ha!-Ha!" (1977)
*"Systems of Romance" (1978)
*"Vienna" (1980) [#3 UK / #22 Germany / #164 US] (BPI: Platinum)
*"Rage in Eden" (1981) [#4 UK / #48 Germany / #144 US] (BPI: Gold)
*"Quartet" (1982) [#6 UK / #13 Germany / #61 US] (BPI: Gold)
*"Lament" (1984) [#8 UK / / #25 Germany / #115 US] (BPI: Gold)
*"U-Vox" (1986) [#9 UK / #49 Germany] (BPI: Gold)
*"Revelation" (1993)
*"Ingenuity" (1996)

Live albums

*"Live In Concert 1981" (1981)
*"Monument" (1983) [#9 UK] (BPI: Gold)
*"Future Picture" (1995)

Compilations

*"Three Into One" (1979)
*"The Collection" (1984) [#2 UK / #37 Germany] (BPI: 3xPlatinum)
*"Slow Motion" (1993)
*"Rare, Vol. 1" (1993)
*"Rare, Vol. 2" (1994)
*"The Voice: The Best of Ultravox" (1997)
*"Dancing With Tears in My Eyes" (1997)
*"Extended Ultravox" (1998)
*"The Island Years" (1999)
*"The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox" (2001) [UK #45]
*"Ultravox & Midge Ure - Finest" (2004)

EPs

*"Retro" Live EP (1978)

ingles

Year

Single

Peak chart positions

Album

UK

IRL

NL

BE

SE

GER

AT

SWI

PL

SA

AUS

NZ

1975 "Ain't Misbehavin'" "(as Tiger Lily)"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1977"Dangerous Rhythm"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Ultravox!
"Young Savage"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

"ROckwrok"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Ha!-Ha!-Ha!
1978 "Slow Motion"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Systems of Romance
"Quiet Men"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1980 "Sleepwalk"

29

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Vienna
"Passing Strangers"

57

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

"Vienna"

2

1

1

1

7

14

8

-

-

8

-

2

1981"Slow Motion" [re-issue]

33

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

"All Stood Still"

8

14

-

-

-

69

-

-

-

-

-

-

Vienna
"New Europeans"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

"The Thin Wall"

14

16

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

95

-

Rage in Eden
"The Voice"

16

27

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

29

1982"Reap the Wild Wind"

12

10

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

-

69

-

Quartet
"Hymn"

11

15

-

-

-

9

-

6

9

-

-

-

1983"Visions in Blue"

15

25

-

-

-

-

-

-

17

-

-

-

"We Came to Dance"

18

22

-

-

-

-

-

-

9

-

-

-

1984 "One Small Day"

27

16

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Lament
"Dancing with Tears in My Eyes"

3

8

6

2

-

7

-

16

6

-

58

38

"Lament"

22

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

47

"Heart of the Country"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

"Love's Great Adventure"

12

15

30

27

-

-

-

-

10

-

-

-

-

1986 "Same Old Story"

31

28

-

-

-

-

-

-

6

-

93

-

U-Vox
"All Fall Down"

30

21

-

-

-

-

-

-

4

-

-

-

1987 "All in One Day"

88

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1992 "Vienna 92"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1993"Vienna" [re-issue]

13

20

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

"I Am Alive"

-

-

-

-

-

80

-

-

-

-

-

-

Revelation
1995 "There Goes a Beautiful World"

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Ingenuity

Videography

Clips

It's also believed those videos, made in 1977, were part of live presentations and not video clips. The three can be seen on Youtube.
*Dangerous Rhythm
*The Wild The Beautiful And The Damned
*Wide Boys

Official releases

* The Collection (VHS, 1984) (DVD, 200?): "Vienna", Passing Strangers", "The Voice", "Thin Wall", "Reap The Wild Wind", "Hymn", "We Came To Dance", "Visions In Blue" (not in DVD version), "One Small Day", "Love's Great Adventure", "Lament".

Live

* In 1985, Ultravox performed two songs at Wembley Stadium as part of the Live Aid concert. This performance can be seen on the Live Aid DVD set. The two songs are "Dancing with Tears in my Eyes" and "Vienna".
* " [A bunch of them can be seen on Youtube] "

References

External links

* [http://www.ultravox.org.uk/ Ultravox's Web site]
* [http://www.worldmusicdatabase.org/profile.php?id=Ultravox&tag= Ultravox] at WorldMusicDatabase
* [http://www.torque-point.com/ Torque Point] - An Ultravox Forum and Fan Site
* [http://studioroberts.sweb.cz/uvox.htm Listings of all Ultravox albums and music sampler]
* [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/ultravox Ultravox] at Rolling Stone
* " [http://www.ultravox.org.uk/images-history/Ultravox-History_Screen_v1.0.pdf The Story] ." Warren Cann interviewed by Jonas Wårstad. Gives a detailed history of the band. ( [http://www.discog.info/ultravox-interview.html text] )


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