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  • Anvil
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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 7 March 2008
It's interesting that Steve Strange stated in his auto-biog that most of the lyrics were thrown together for this album, due to the bands' lifestyle at the time, as only on tracks like "Wildlife" is this apparent. The first 4 tracks (vinyl side 1) work brilliantly together, the harder album mixes of "The Anvil" and "Night Train" being far more coherent than the John Luongo single mixes (although they are also good in their own right). "Move Up" is a personal favourite too, and whilst "Horseman" and "Look What They've Done" are strong tracks the rest of the album is far more low-key.

Having worked through the cassette and vinyl issues I was fortunate enough to get the US 1997 One-Way issue (with the two unrelated bonus tracks) at a sensible price at the time. So what does this CD reissue on Cherry Pop offer the fan, and is it good value?

Value isn't a question here, the US CD goes for silly prices as long deleted, so it's good news for any Visage or 80s music fan that they have reissued the album with additional bonuses. On their website Cherry Red were obviously looking for digital quality sources of "Motivation" and "I'm Still Searching" (plus "Night Train dub"), but not surprisingly they didn't find any, so the b-sides are sourced from vinyl (surface noise is apparent on "I'm Still...", but nothing worse than that).

The first 11 tracks are exactly as per US CD, and don't seem to have been re-eq'd atall (I'm assuming they took straight from that release). As a result the album sounds a little flat, especially compared to the earlier 12" b-side material which is far more punchy. It must be stressed Cherry do not state anywhere that this is a remaster (some naughty sellers are!) and it clearly isn't. However the sound is perfectly acceptable throughout for a budget reissue.

Why they picked the 3 "Mind Of A Toy" 12" dance tracks amongst the bonuses is anyone's guess, bearing in mind good sources have already been used on CD releases of "Night Train Dance mix" and "Pleasure Boys Dance Mix". Also one would've thought a decent 12" copy of "Anvil (Luongo remix)" existed, and there would've been room if they'd dropped the earlier era material.

The liner notes are nicely produced however, giving a general Visage history (not focussing on this album) with scans of the various single sleeves and related press art. Far far better than the poor US inlay :-)

Buy it if you're a fan and haven't got the US version, as it may not be around for long. The b-sides may be from vinyl but they definitely deserve to be here (this is the real Visage "Motivation" track) and overall hats off to Cherry for getting the rights to release this underrated 'classic' of its time.
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on 7 April 2008
The debut Visage album took a lot of beating in terms of the quality of the songwriting, musicianship (even John McGeoch who regarded it as "a joke") and production. The Anvil is two steps further on.

The Damned Don't Cry is one of the finest songs Visage ever wrote: there's just something about Strange's rather wistful vocal and the tight melodic hooks. What else stands out? The Horseman, Midge Ure's strident guitar cutting across the whole thing to compelling effect. Check out Wild Life and the closing track Whispers too - the girls whispering "Wake up...." is just brilliant.

Visage were never this strong again. Ure left after the infamous camel fiasco, Night Train was remixed by "some US guy" (Luongo) and Ure asked for his name to be taken off the credits. Visage as a studio project were rarely in the same place together to write, rehearse and record and Ure and Billy Currie needed to concentrate more on Ultravox who had seen huge success after Vienna hit big internationally.

If you only ever buy three Visage albums, buy Visage, The Anvil and the best of (or even the Singles Collection if you can find it!) as they represent Visage at the height of their powers. As for Beat Boy, don't get me started!!!
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on 13 June 2001
Although famous for the "Fade to Grey" single, this is Visage at their best. The album contains two singles "The Dammned Dont Cry" and "Night Train" which met with some success, but the album as a whole is just great. With the help of Ultravox members including Midge Ure, this goes down as the best album of its kind. However it has taken me years to find this album on CD, but my long search was over when I found 1 copy in a famous London Record shop. The CD contains some bonus tracks which are ok, but its the original album that demands your attention. If your a fan of bands like Ultravox, OMD etc, then give this a listen (if you can get a copy!), you will not be dissapointed !!!
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on 6 March 2008
I couldn't believe my luck when i saw that this album is being releashed i have seen copies on some web sites that want as much as 400.00! so i am very pleased! Anyway enough said. For me everyone associates Visage with fade to grey and the first album. Personally i think the second album 'the anvil' is far better and consistently at a higher level to the first album. If you like Ultravox, john foxx, duran duran etc... you know the type of music. Then this will be a real treat. For me this is one of the all time great 80's albums.
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on 5 January 2010
Originally released in 1982, "The Anvil" was an altogether more polished affair than Visage's 1980 debut album. Not that there was anything wrong with the first album, but by the time of "The Anvil", the band's personnel had become more accomplished and successful outside of their part-time Visage project. Most notable were Midge Ure and Billy Currie who had by then achieved tremendous success with Ultravox (particularly with "Vienna"), and brought the same cinematic sound with its lush, cool synthetics and echoing piano to Visage. Steve Strange himself, whilst never the best singer in the world, was now a bona-fide trendsetter rather than just another Bowie/Bolan/Ferry wannabe. Famed for his cutting-edge sartorial style, he was both pop star and fashion icon, a combination which made him a more prominent and glamorous frontman for a band made up of more seasoned musicians. In addition to his parallel career as a leading nightclub impresario, he was the king of hip - at least for a while anyway since the likes of Duran Duran were already nipping at his heels and Boy George was waiting in the wings, ready to steal his crown.

Only two tracks were released as singles in the UK, the atmospheric "Damned Don't Cry" and the bold, vivacious "Night Train". The latter was remixed for its release as a single and it's a shame that neither the single version, or the superior 12" extended dance mix, were included here since they have more pizazz than the original album version. Although both of these songs were perfectly fine as singles, the album contains even better material. "Again We Love" is simply the finest Visage song ever. Yes - it's even better than "Fade To Grey". With its glossy, elegant production, it does what Visage do best by blending moody atmospherics with new wave disco. It's a sin that it was never released as a single. "The Horseman" and "Look What They've Done" are further missed opportunities for chart hits, the latter with its dramatic sound and emotive, bitter lyrics. The title track and "Move Up" are dance rockers with a slightly harder edge to them, reminding us that Visage weren't just a synth band and that you can have good dance music with guitars in the mix. "Wild Life" is similarly energetic with its driving bass and rattling percussion, whilst the ethereal instrumental "Whispers" is a pleasant departure, sounding like something from a film score and slightly reminscent of the kind of music that David Sylvian's Japan were making around that time.

The six extra tracks on this Cherry Red Records release are a mixed bag, half of them better suited to the first album (three tracks from the "Mind Of A Toy" 12" single). Also present is "Motivation" (the B-side to "The Damned Don't Cry") which also sounds a little like earlier Visage and could easily have been an offcut from the first album. However, despite the glaring omissions of the "Night Train" remixes, at least we have its excellent, moody B-side, "I'm Still Searching". The inclusion of the lesser known "Pleasure Boys" single (and its 12" dance mix) would also have been fitting, as would the different versions of the title track "The Anvil".

"The Anvil" was Visage's highest charting album (no.6) and whilst it didn't achieve the same level of chart longevity as their first album, it certainly surpassed it in terms of quality and style. Right down to the black & white Helmut Newton photograph on the cover with Steve Strange in his Antony Price outfit, this is a luxury experience. Unfortunately, it also marked the end of Visage's all-too-brief golden era. Midge Ure (and later Billy Currie and Dave Formula) would leave the band following its release, taking their very apparent songwriting and production skills with them, and the band would never make anything this good again. To many, Visage will only be remembered for "Fade To Grey". As superb as that song was, "The Anvil" contains more treasures which (had they been released as singles) could well have eclipsed it. I suppose we'll never know but kudos to Cherry Red Records for a long overdue CD reissue of this forgotten gem of an album. 9 out of 10.
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on 20 June 2015
As a long term fan of the late singer, this album has always been a bit of an enigma to me. The Damned Don't Cry, Anvil and Night Train have always left me cold. They appear emotionless and without much charm. But what draws me back is The Horseman, Look What They've Done and Whispers. No Ure on these tracks, but Billy Currie helps to push this album from the mediocrity that its songwriting deserves, to a good, early bit of New Wave electronica. Not a patch on the first effort but worth a listen, nevertheless. Signals the decline of the outfit, unfortunately.
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on 19 November 2015
"The Anvil" picked up where "Visage" left off in that it was another super stylish album, both musically and in its glossy, embossed (rare at the time) sleeve with photography by the great Helmut Newton. Equally stylish it may have been, with pretty much the same line-up as its predecessor (the lack of John McGeoch being the main difference) but it was a distinctly different album than Visage's debut. It was smoother, and had a soundscape feel to it, with those swooshing synths in tracks such as "Look What They've Done" and "The Damned Don't Cry" (a nod to "Fade to Grey" yes, but still very much its own song).

"The Anvil" works best when played loud - essential for the closing track "Whispers" if you want to hear any of the hushed vocals, but amazing too on the title track, with its thunderous call to the dance floor. The only slightly disappointing track is "Wild Life" which feels like a bit of a filler, but even this works in its own way.

"The Anvil" saw a slightly more grown-up Visage, visually represented by Mr Strange, who had ditched the new romantic pancake and clothes made by his mates for top of the range Antony Price. With most band members with fingers in other (often more lucrative) pies, it's a shame they couldn't make at least one more album with the core line-up.
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on 26 October 2008
Iam glad this Visage album has finally been released, this was an excellent album for the time and captured the New Romantic Movement at it's best. Sound on this album is good if not excellent. The extra tracks are great especially Damned don't cry 12" and Mind of a toy 12". Brings back some nice memories. This abum is heavily influenced by Midge Ure/Boys and almost sounds like Ultravox in some parts,Steve Strange adds the glitz and polish to the overall production. Sleeve notes are very informative also, pity Polydor could'nt of done the same years ago, as this is a major album from the 80's era. Great Purchase for 80's fans.
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on 9 June 2015
Need I say more, This is the better album of the three visage albums realeased in the 80's. The only thing that lets it down is the extras but thats not Cherry reds fault and more like Polydor/universal for not allowing the vaults to be searched. A proper release needs to be done for this but I'm happy with this as its slighly more expanded than my oneway records issue from years ago.
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on 17 June 2013
I have never written a review before so here goes. I remember when I first bought this album, I am sure it was before Night Train was released, so was very surprised they used that as follow up single, which I think hit only 12 or 14. What further surprised me was no follow up single. What was Polydor or the powers be, doing? Most bands at this stage were releasing 3 to 4 singles an album their last album spawned 3 singles, so what a great shame that many of the public didn't get to hear some of these great songs. The reason I got this album this second time around, was I was missing my favourite track from it and could not find it on Spotify,and that was 'Look What they have done'. Personally I think the album had many strong songs including The Horseman, Again we Love and Whispers. You could be forgiven at times if you thought you were listening to an Ultravox album, till Steve Strange's voice kicks in, with Ure and Curry involved, some of their style was bound to be heard, but does not detract from what is still a unique album. There is great value with the bonus tracks, shame there was no 'Pleasure Boys' track, but hey you can't have everything.
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