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Ultravox!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2006
From the neon plastic garage wails of "Satday nite" and "Wide boys", to the emotional dehumanisations of "I want to be a machine" and "My sex". Boy were Ultravox! a different creature under the guide of John Foxx in 76 compared to the slick sideburn pomposities of Midge in 1980.

Mind you, it was 'cos of "Vienna" (still a fantastic album, but that's another story) that I got into this album.

Expecting another epic synth rock soundtrip had been my mistake.

No, this album knocked me sideways with a gutsy bomblast of sheer rock noise experimentation. And I have to admit, at first I didn't know what the hell to make of it.

But you know, I went back to it time and time again. And each time I did, I found I was becoming more and more gripped.

The sardonic humour of "Satday night in the city of the dead" opens the way, pogoing its r'n'b backbeat to a pulp.

"Life at rainbows end" is carried along by Foxx's double vocal take, one a stylish croon, the other a distant whisper, great with headphones.

In "Slipaway" a lovely melody should get destroyed by the great slabs of distortion that tumble down upon it, but end up being the bits I look forward too. And in come the moogs, but warmer alongside the raw guitars and drums.

Another great melody comes in the "Dangerous rythmn" that could almost be Roxy attempting reggae.

The albums epics come in the forms of the lonely "I want to be a machine" and a real anthem "The wild the beautiful and the damned", both are brought to their peaks by fantastic fiddle flourishes making the early Ultravox! a kind of early futuristic new wave punk folk hybrid.

Keyboards dominate the ruined cityscape of the quasi-ballad "My sex", which is the song here most likely to please the old new romantics. But the grittier production brings to my mind images similar to say, a grundgier take of the sci-fi "Metropolis".

Some fun with more distortion and tape overload on the catchy "Wide boys" and the almost funky "Lonely hunter".

The story goes that the band got snuck into the Island studio when it was otherwise supposed to be closed and recorded this brilliant album amongst the mops and brooms of the cleaning ladies. With none other than Mr's Brian Eno and Steve Lillywhite in the production seats that's one rock 'n' roll story I will be hellava disappointed with if I find out it's not true.

True or not they still produced my favourite Ultravox album of the lot.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Though they made some great music later, Ultravox!, like many bands, were at their most vital on their debut. Suspended, in 1976, between the bold influences of the likes of Bowie and Roxy on one hand and a vision of new wave and early 1980s pop on the other, they were a band out of time. The first track possesses the no-nonsense attitude that The Stranglers would adopt and captures the edgy mood that pervades the album. This is the music of a band scraping the dirt out of the gutter in Iggy Pop's neighbourhood. Despite futuristic, sophisticated titles, on this album they are down on the street.

The two central tracks are 'I Want To be A Machine' which culminates in a startling violin-fest, and 'The Wild, The Beautiful And The Damned', which is five years ahead of its time. 'Wide Boys' opens with a 'Rebel Rebel' soundalike riff, 'Dangerous Rhythm' features John Foxx aping Bryan Ferry against a catchy reggae-style tune. 'My Sex', with its treated vocal is disarmingly reserved. Ultravox! matured after this, but they didn't make anything as exciting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2013
This is the first and likely only review I will submit, but liking all the other reviews of this album, just wanted to post my comments, due to the travesty that is the CD entitled "The Very Best of Ultravox", and contains not one song from their first three albums.

In the late 70's, as a drummer in a new-wave band that modelled itself on music that formed the roots of the music movement that was slowly forming - we had about 80 songs in our repertoire, with some covers of Iggy, Bowie, The Stranglers, Sex Pistols, Television, 801, MC5, the bass player at the time said that Ultravox! would be the next big thing - I saw them 5 times in 3 years starting with about 100 people in Hitchin (North Herts College).

I went out the next day and bought the gatefold sleeved version of this album, purely based on the live versions of "I Want to be a Machine", "The Wild, The Beautiful and The Damned" and "My Sex", which I still think are the highlights of this album.

Incidently I bought Ha! Ha! Ha! the day it came out, the first 500 being numbered and came with a limited edition single "Young Savage/Quirks". I lost both of these to the lead guitarist of another band I played in but that is another story. I went out and re-bought them on Vinyl and subsequently CD formats anyway. Ha! (3x) is still my favourite album, but "I Want to be a Machine" is still my favourite track.

To this day the best gig I have ever been to was Ultravox! at the Marquee in London Soho district on Boxing Day 1978 (John Cooper Clarke supported), where they were just touring with Systems of Romance. I liked the fact that the band were just mingling with the crowd in the bar, and the atmosphere was just buzzing.

I have lent out the first three albums to countless people, who have subsequently gone on to buy them themselves, so as others have suggested go out and treat yourselves, you won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 December 2012
This is a review of the 2006 remastered re-release with four extra tracks. It comes with generous sleevenotes (with lyrics). The original album lasted thirty-eight minutes; this CD with the four live bonus tracks lasts fifty-three.

I was only twelve when this album was released in 1977 and my musical world then revolved around the likes of Abba and ELO. It was only after the release of `Vienna' four year's later that I worked back to explore Ultravox's early history.

The fact that the first few seconds of the opening track of their debut album features drums, guitar and harmonica demonstrates their commitment to be innovative and different. It's not all good from beginning to end though. Four of the album's nine tracks are `mere' three-star album fodder, but then track three, `Slip Away', has pretensions to grandeur.

The following seven-minute-long `I Want To Be A Machine' and the later `The Wild, The Beautiful, And The Damned' both convert that pretension into reality, showing what could be done to make rock refreshing and ... well, what could be done to make rock itself unclassifiable, the music bursting its bounds and striking out into new directions that would be consolidated later. The final track, `My Sex', brings a fantastic end to the album.

The Ultravox soundworld is often radically new and innovative. But the delight is equally to be found in John Foxx's vulnerable voice and lyrics. Examples of his mastery of words and images abound in this set, such as in `Wide Boys' - "delightfully unpleasant / With our foxy adolescent sneers" - or the Ballardian `My Sex' - "invested in /Suburban photographs/ Skyscraper shadows on a carcrash overpass."

Produced by Eno with a lowly Steve Lillywhite twiddling the knobs, this album often (but not always) delivers more than it promises.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2014
I went on a bit of an 'early electronic music fest' as this was certainly a gap in my musical collection. I had already got a lot of Ultravox albums but not the early stuff with John Foxx so I was intrigued to give it a listen. I bought this and Systems of Romance at the same time and also bought John Foxx's Glimmer compilation album (which is also great). I was surprised at the sound of this album, it was not what I was expecting. If I did not know, I would not have guessed that this was Ultravox. But this is their first album and they had not decided on a direction at that point. The elements were there but had not been crystallised. It is an eclectic mix of songs but an enjoyable listen and a great time warp back to that period of music where punk was starting to phase out into new wave with the dawn of the synthesiser.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
If you come to this album expecting something like the Midge Ure-fronted

Ultravox of Vienna et al, you're in for something of a shock. Ultravox of the late

1970s were a much stranger, and frankly much more interesting outfit.

The music on this, their debut album, is as idiosyncratic as anything that

made it onto vinyl in that era. The list of influences is long: Berlin-era

Bowie and Eno-era Roxy Music are perhaps the most obvious, but more telling

is who they influenced. The fascination with Futurism is there ("I want to be

a machine"), the melodrama, androgyny and other-sexuality from goth

("my sex", "the wild the beatiful and the damned"), and there is a definite

punk flavour to the whole proceedings. Yet it would be wrong to pigeonhole

them in any of these categories. The sound really was unique, and I suspect

they didn't gain much of a following because it was just a little too different

for most listeners.

The album hasn't dated badly, except perhaps the cover (I can't help thinking

that a few of the band look like they know they'll regret it in a few years!), and

the lyrics are a little pretentiously overblown and sixth form-ish at times ("I'll bring

you truckloads of flowers/ from all the world that you stole from me/ I'll spin a

coin in a madhouse/ while I watch you drowning"). For me, though this is part

of the fun.

Overall, this really is an unusual and enjoyable album, as long as you can forgive

the odd flights of fancy. It's also interesting

to hear how they develop from this into the "Systems of Romance" ultravox, where

you can definitely hear lead singer John Foxx about to produce "Metamatic", and

where you can see the mittle-European fascination that spawned "Vienna". If you want to hear

something different from the era of The Clash and The Damned, it's well worth worth a visit.
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This is how Ultravox should sound as far as I'm concerned!
It's miles away from the Midge Ure stuff & in my opinion miles better!
This is a REAL band at work here.
It was way ahead of it's time. Have you heared the bass on 'I want to be a machine'?
The strings must've been as thick as a telegraph pole! Brilliant!
I would urge everyone to give this a blast, late at night with good speakers & LOUD!
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on 27 November 2012
I love this CD. Years ago I bought this on vinyl and when it came out on CD I just had to buy it. This is my second CD as the first was completly worn out - didn't help leaving it in direct sunlight. This is Ultravox meets rock music. Its one of those rare albums that is "all" good. I never have the urge to skip any of the tracks. Would certainly reccommend it.
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on 29 October 2013
This album rocks! The original Ultravox led by John Fox were an amazing band, far ahead of their time. Fox is a real creative force and this is nothing to do with the lame MoR outfit the band became when Fox left and was replaced by Midge Ure and Vienna.
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on 14 June 2013
it is an excellent album., brings many wonderful memories of times in the 80 s listening to ULTRAVOX..Wonderful, excellent,fantastic.
lovely.
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