The review in Record Mirror of Ultravox's 1981 `Rage in Eden' album described it as "Tepid in the extreme ... a complete lack of ideas", but Melody Maker declared of it: "Confirmation, consolidation, and CLASS." Record Mirror laughed and proceeded to fall, not lasting as long as their rivals.
I was there in 1981, and smitten: `Rage in Eden' is a passionate album, full of anger and angst: perfect for a sixteen-year-old Romantic. `Vienna' was always going to be a hard act to follow, but - dare I say it - `Rage in Eden' is even better, with both `The Voice' and `The Thin Wall' as definitely five-star tracks. Indeed, there is no duff track throughout this set (although `Accent on youth' does underperform).
The lack of an instrumental is made up for by extended sections at the heart of songs or at their end: the two-minutes of `The Ascent' is really a segued continuation of `Accent on Youth'. Quite a few of the tracks are over six minutes in length, with `Stranger Within' over seven.
This is a review of the remastered two-disc set released by Chrysalis in 2008. The remastered sound seems to favour the guitar, and the music seems to have lost some of the original's wall-of-sound epic atmosphere, resulting in a more disparate feel to the noise. It therefore has less focus, less heart, but is more solid: the difference is, to say the least, `interesting'.
The second disc of this set provides sixty-six minutes of extras: B-sides, live versions, works-in-progress. The strength of `Rage in Eden' is shown by even the B-sides being strong tracks. To me, `Rage in Eden' is Ultravox's greatest album, but those who know this "will always feel their backs against the thin wall."