Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Forgotten Records #6 - Vienna

In the continuing saga of forgotten bands we have Ultravox; nearly a one hit wonder in the States, and today cast adrift in the sea of 80’s New Wave bands. Formed in 1974, it wasn’t until 1980 and the addition of lead singer Midge Ure that Ultravox would carve their own niche in the New Romantic off shoot of the New Wave movement. Their crowning achievement is probably Vienna, a lush, synthesized record released in 1980 and the first with Ure. The title track and All Stood Still were hits on both sides of the Atlantic. But who remembers the subsequent records? Rage In Eden, Quartet, Monument? Anyone? Their sound was calculated and at times orchestral, and although the songwriting was strong, the tunes were not as interesting (or as danceable, which was pretty important in the early 80’s) as Depeche Mode or New Order. At a time when there were dozens of bands cut from the same cloth and records seem to come out weekly, there was not enough to distinguish Ultravox from the rest. After the song Reap the Wild Wind in 1985, Ultravox faded into obscurity.

Believe it or not, I saw Ultravox in Chicago, probably in 1982, at the Aragon Ballroom. I honestly don’t remember a damned thing about the show. Concerts ebb from your memory quickly, but there are always little bits you remember from the good ones. I can recall lots of things about U2 and REM at the same theater, around the same time. Nevertheless, Vienna is a great song, a defining song from a pop music movement and one that you never hear anymore.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Avalon said...

Vienna is one of my all time favorites. beautiful, haunting song. Lots of people don't recognize Midge Ure's writing accomplishments. Similar to Paul Weller. Thanks for taking me back to a good place for a few bloggedy minutes!

2:52 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Glad you enjoyed it. Come back for more music anytime....

9:04 AM  

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