Following the failure of the Tony Fennelle era Ultravox, Billy
went for a 5 piece approach this time [ and the final try, to
date ] for Ultravox as a going concern.
Again, like the Tony / Billy duo album 'Revelation', this line-
up also bombed without trace. Billy probably guessed that the
time of ultravox had passed, given the garbage in the charts
by this point...people had stopped listening to good music,
by and large, by 1994. The rest of the band, who only made this
one album with Billy [ plus some Live gigs ] must have been
scratching their heads wondering why it failed to catch the
imagination of the people who followed the band so faithfully
up until 1986 [ although the mysterious No 76 placing of the
reasonable All In One Day single perhaps heralded the end of
Ultravox as a 'brand' ? So hot on the heels of
disappointing sales of Same Old Story and All Fall Down, maybe
it was all over after Warren left and The Collection compilation ? ]
......Anyway, we have the superb Sam Blue on vocals,
Gary Williams on bass, Billy on his usual synths and viola,
Tony Holmes on drums, and Vinny Burns on guitars.
Track by track -
1.Ingenuity - a masterpiece....worthy of any Ultravox album
in the 80's, midpaced, typical juddering bass kbds, soaring
synths, Midge'like vocals, cracking chorus, neat guitars,
just a good good song. Carries a slight sense of foreboding,
a little chilling in feeling, like all the best Ultravox songs.
2.There goes a beautiful world - not bad at all. Lively kbds,
soaring chorus again, very Ultravox of old. Upbeat.
3. Give it all back - a darker sound than T2, angrier guitars,
prominent drums, dark kbds, and attacking vocals. Quite a shift
in sound from the first two, but still with that quintissential
[ wrong ? go on then, you spell it :o) ] Uvox undercoat. A
mournful viola even comes in halfway through for a weird
instrumental break. Not bad.
4. Future picture forever - another dark one, mysterious. Viola
to the fore, doomy vocals, and whispery keyboards. A piano and
rumbling bass pick up the chorus, as some light is allowed in.
Classy vocals in the chorus. This title was borrowed for the
'live' album released by this line-up some years after they
packed up [ Future Picture - good mix of live versions of the
songs on here plus the older classics, all very well performed ].
Not a bad song at all, come complete with a good guitar solo
from Vinny Burns, who is a very good player [ i think he may
have gone on to join a prog-rock band called Ten after this
Ultravox excursion ].
5. The Silent Cries - sounds like it comes straight off of
Rage in Eden. The old juddery synth bass sequencer keyboard
that we all know and love, kicks in on this one. Then the
song quickly goes off on a tangent for the verses, with a weird
synth and drums mixture, and original vocals. The chorus returns
you to the familiar 80's Uvx style again, it could very easily
figure on any of the Midge era albums. Not bad at all.
6. Distance - a little different, all stringsy keyboards,
plodding drums, pleading vocals, slow paced.....it changes
mid-song and picks up pace, as it goes along. guitars come
chugging in after two minutes, and then a full-on guitar solo
and some chuggy bass work. Again, not a bad song.
7. Ideals - wow. Track 7 on Revelation blew me away, there was
little sign of that one until it hit you. On this album, there
has already been some good quality stuff, but Ideals is still
a breed apart. Right back to the classic sound, but with a
whole new feel added too. Orchestral synths, big piano work,
it all kicks off well. Then it changes just as quickly for the
1st verse, with a chugging bass/drums/guitar mix, and dark
emotional vocals. The song just gets better and better as it
goes on. the chorus isnt the greatest, but it's still pretty
good. The instrumental break is superb, remember how when you
heard an Ultravox single for the first time, you used to wait
to see what the middle-8 break would sound like ? This gets
you right back there. almost Big Country-like guitars from
Burns, good bass and drums, and all punctuated by Billy's piano.
8. Who'll save you - a bit dull, slightly atmospheric, just not
a very strong song. They can be excused this, in the midst of
such good company as the nine other good tracks.
9. A way out a way through - more traditional stuff, it sounds
exactly like it's come from the Lament album. Scratchy guitars,
big synths, piano, great vocals, damn good song.
10. Majestic - crumbs, quite a diversion, to finish the album.
Sounds like one of those old Uvx b-sides ! Slightly updated
sounding version of the age-old bass kbds of Billy, accompanied
by his usual synths etc. Sounds like he may have recorded this
one alone, no vocals, no real sign of drums or guitars, yet
if you'd heard this as a b-side to, say, We Came To Dance,
you'd have pissed your pants at the time. Majestic indeed, it
has all the hallmarks of Uvx's finest instrumental songs.
Great way to round off the album.
Again, as with my review of Revelation, it galls me that so few
people have actually heard this album. It's a very strong
collection of songs, worthy of the Ultravox name. Sam is a
very good vocalist, with a Midge-like quality plus a feel of
his own too. The other 3 guys are equally at home with the
band too, and I suspect by the 'live' album, that they enjoyed
their short tenure under the Uvx banner, as they sounded like
they enjoyed doing the material both old and new.
Billy must have given up on the Ultravox name after this album,
and has released several solo albums in recent years. The
commercial success eluded him in the 90's, both with and without
the band name. Midge continues to write Phil Collins type safe
music which nobody really pays any attention to either, Chris
has moved away from music, Warren i think is back in Canada or
the US, so i doubt we will ever see a reunion. Thus, this could
be the last ever ultravox album...if it is, it's a great way
to close the book. Buy it now.