After Steve Strange and Rusty Egan, the final two original members of Visage, parted ways Steve had to look elsewhere for a musical direction. Many bands and artists from the early 80's decided to ditch the synths by the mid 80's as they were seen as no longer trendy, and brought in more 'live' sounds (as an example ever heard the appalling UVOX from Ultravox?) so Steve Strange decided to follow suit. He took with him from Visage mark II (who recorded Beat Boy) Steve Barnacle on bass and Gary Barnacle on sax, added friends Wendy Cruise (aka Wendy Wu) on vocals and Steve New (ex Rich Kids) on guitar and added another Barnacle brother, Pete on drums. The resulting line up created a very strong, creative and live band who wrote some amazing music that was very of its time, (The vast majority of this line up became the new Spear of Destiny and recorded their most successful album, Outland) but 100 miles away from Visage. Unfortunately the weakest link was Strange who, while never the worlds best vocalist, was also struggling with a heroin addiction, so while the music is rocky and powerful his vocals never develop beyond faltering. Wendy's role seemed to be more about trying to cover up his inability to hold a vocal line, which is a shame. The only real duet they recorded, The Beat Goes On is the strongest on the album. Another strong track is 12 Miles High, written by New and recorded as a demo by the Rich Kids before they broke up (unfortunately New's epilepsy meant he had to leave the band before the album was recorded so was replaced at short notice). Unsurprisingly the album and two singles were not hits but there is much to enjoy here. The songs are catchy and if you can get beyond Stranges tone deaf vocals (he should have been a punk singer then no-one would have minded) quite enjoyable. As mentioned this isn't Visage but if you like Spear of Destiny you'll probably like this. What is absolutely amazing about this Cherry Red release (with Cherry Red being pretty hit and miss on the quality front) is that they have remastered the original tapes. How do I know this? Well on the cd many of the tracks have the drummers counting in before the band start up, which were edited out from the original vinyl release. So the quality is stunning (no vinyl rips here) and you get all their back catalogue on one release. I was lucky enough to meet Steve Barnacle who said it was one of the happiest times of his life ( I sent him a vinyl rip of my album as he didn't have it) so he must be so pleased that it has been released in such good quality. I will say again this is not Visage or anything like it, so don't expect Fade To Grey here, but if you are a fan of Steve Strange, or just of mid 80's music, it's worth a punt. I imagine that it will probably never be pressed again so get it now before second hand copies start going for silly money.
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You don't really need to have this release in your collection. The music is quite weak. As many other Visage collectors i couldn't resist to buy it again on CD after treasuring the vinyl for 25 plus years, but i already regret it as it has nothing to do with the magic of the first two Visage albums.
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