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on 21 April 2017
The greatest song to be robbed of a number one spot, went down a right treat with my Mum on her birthday
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on 26 April 2017
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on 26 June 2017
Brilliant album. Shame it took me so long to review it!
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on 3 March 2017
Eighties album that you just had to have and the sound is brilliant. Good condition.
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on 2 March 2017
superb album.one of the best 80s bands
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on 7 January 2002
This was it. The album which established Ultravox
as a powerful musical force. Derided for years
by a music industry that never really comprehended
their worth or talent, this was the album which
at last brought the band - a quartet since the
departure in early 79 of former frontman John
Foxx and ace guitarist Robin Simon - to national
and international recognition. 1978 had seen
the last of their three influential but unbought
albums for Island, Systems of Romance, appear
with a blueprint for modern rock. It took a lot
a beating...
Incidentally, Systems... is Midge Ure's favourite
album and he knew the songs intimately when he
was working with keyboard genius Billy Currie
in Visage, something which definately counted in
his favour!
Midge Ure brought more than just Captain Kirk
sideburns to the band: he brought a shimmering
commercial sheen which blended with their risky,
edgy earlier sound.
The sequencing of the tracks on the album works
a treat: Astradyne, the album's instrumental
opener sets the tempo with Billy Currie's superb
violin well to the fore. No sooner has the track
concluded then we're straight into Ure's choppy,
strident guitar of New Europeans, the contrast
between the textures is awesome.
The band gigged this album extensively before
and after it was recorded in the spring of 1980
so they were as tight as a gnat's chuff when
the tapes rolled.
Private Lives is ushered in with Currie's classical piano flourishes and then all hell
breaks loose as their trademark duelling guitar
and ARP Odyssey vie with each other to pass you
their energy.
Four singles were released from this album,
Sleepwalk and Passing Strangers not quite
getting the success they deserved. This all
changed with the title track...
Edited down to a four-minute version (without
the moody, swirling synths on the intro), it
was the track which brought them to the public.
It's a classic, what else can you say? Currie
relates that the hairs on the back of his neck
stood up the first time Ure sang it to the band.
The four tracks of the second side are written
to be a sequence: starting out with the stark beauty of Mr X with its precise drum programming
and shifting bass patterns and then on into Western Promise, a hymn to Ure's previous tour
of the far east as temporary lead guitarist in
Thin Lizzy.
Western Promise is an incredible track. A minimal
sequencer emerges from Mr X as it fades away and
a haunting melody rises up before Cann's drums
crash in. Apparently they recorded Warren Cann's
furious drumming in the foyer of RAK Studios in
London due to its reflective surfaces and managed
to get a decent take just before the neighbours'
complaints brought the old bill around!
Ure gives one of his finest vocal performances
before the track shudders to a halt and the
moody Moogs come in to lead us into Vienna itself.
The track is probably the album's emotional
highpoint; the textures working so well together
and Currie's violin in the break bringing a
different quality altogether. It deserved to be
number 1 but was eclipsed by a novelty record.
The album concludes with All Stood Still; a track
which sees several changes of the light and shade
they wanted to capture and yet the song has an
ongoing urgency that is irrepressable.
Simply exquisite and one of the landmark albums
of the last twenty-five years.
So buy it!
Al Ferrier
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on 10 April 2003
I found about Ultravox from reading an interview with Gary Numan who named them as an influence. After hearing Astradyne on a college radio I eventually bought Vienna in the summer of 1981. Even after hearing a little bit of the album I still expected the rest of the album to be robotic like Numans but it was far from it. I found it lush and Midge Ure's voice full of emotion to go along with the moody electronics. But the album also rocks out with more guitar driven songs like New Europeans, Passing Strangers and Private Lives. Even some of the synth only songs rock out, which none of Ultravox's contemporaries did with as much ferocity. Listen to Sleepwalk and Western Promise.
Most of the songs feature synth solos by Billy Currie playing an ARP Odyssey, which sounds something like a cross between a violin and a guitar. Currie also plays some amazing violin and viola on some songs, most notably Astradyne, Mr. X and the title track. And drummer Warren Cann takes electronic percussion to a whole new level on this album.
The title track Vienna is one of the best songs ever recorded in my opinion. A beauitful blend of electronic and classical instrumentation. I do believe it was a hit all over the world except the US of course. Ultravox were just too European for mainstream American ears at that time. Pity...for mainstream America that is. The only place you'd hear Ultravox at that time was on college radio, so mainstream America missed out on some amazing music.
This re-release has some b-sides to singles included all of which are good songs...Passionate Reply and Waiting are standouts to me. Herr X is an interesting version of Mr X with the vocals in German. Also included is the breakthrough video Vienna which was probably the first video to look like a mini movie. Watch for the tarantula on the sleeping guys face.
With all the extras I think you get a lot for your money with this cd.
This is a must have for any electronic music fan.
Buy it and enjoy the great band Ultravox was.
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on 19 April 2012
I've wanted this album for 32 years and only just got 'round to getting it. I move in and out of obsessions with different musical genres and over the past couple of years one that keeps resurfacing is german 70's electronica. Ultravox are often derided by my peers, and if one only took into consideration the later works such as "great adventure" and "if i was..." (not that bad, actually), it is possible to see why they are regarded as a bit naff. However, this album contains some real gems, and by revisiting it i understood why i was so passionate about it at the time. Prior to this, most contemporary music seemed, to a ten year old, to be a load of shouting and angry noise; this contains truly beautiful sounds. It is testament to the seriousness and dedication of the group that they were able to produce such stunning sound with such crude equipment (by today's standards, anyway) in an attempt to emulate and build on the work of their german forebearers. The solo in "sleepwalk" is sublime. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how such an important group languishes in such obscurity with the younger generation of my acquaintance, whereas they are thoroughly familiar with such lesser talents as spandau ballet and duran duran?!
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on 6 November 2017
This albumn is a classic good songs sounds and synth s the best ure era ultravox albumn
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on 20 October 2013
I will admit to being biased as I grew up with the early 80s New Romantic music. I never subscribed to the theory that the synths did all the work. For me, you needed the song first, and these guys were always using the newest kit that needed an awful lot of work to produce anything worth listening to.
This album, above many others, captures the spirit of the time. It was not as pop orientated as many of its peers, it drew upon the mystery that was Europe in those early EU and communist ere days, and it bundled all that into a collection of songs that were full of edgy lyrics and sweeping synth fed rhythms. I was hooked when I first heard it and it has not dated. To me, that proves that behind the image, was real talent and songwriting. Oh, and that video. I can still remember the impact that Vienna had on my classmates. A black and white masterpiece, so high class, so atmospheric, these guys really knew how to do style.
This remastered version has really brightened up the album, which had always had its fair share of hiss and gremlins. Of course, synth pop was about precision and so the result has not taken anything away and has just allowed the music to be so much more transparent and forward. A fitting tribute to an old favourite.
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