Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mid Seventies Roxy Music Obsession: Part Two (REPOST From 3/26/09)

Mott The Hoople was done. Peter Gabriel left Genesis. Led Zeppelin was on hiatus. And now Roxy Music was through too. This, after releasing "Siren," an album I think was their strongest to date. My big four at the time, up and leaving me out in the cold.

In walks Ultravox. Co-produced by Brian Eno and Steve Lillywhite, Ultravox sounded nothing like Genesis, Mott, or Zep, but boy did they remind me of a punkier Roxy Music. Poseurs? Yes. But underneath their neo-glam preening were some heavy duty hooks, and all the Eno "treatment" I needed.

Here's a bit of what Trouser Press had to say about the band's 1977 debut:

Produced by Brian Eno, Steve Lillywhite and the group, Ultravox! marries the flamboyance of poseurdom to the cold minimalism of Kraftwerk, with more than a touch of punk's roughness. John Foxx's voice is typically distant, singing lyrics that contain jumbled images expressing passive dislocation (a popular Ultravox theme). While synthesizers are in short supply, the budding Ultravox style can be noted in "Dangerous Rhythm," the oddly passionate "I Want to Be a Machine" and the classic "My Sex."

Yes, three brilliant songs from a brilliant debut, but not the three I offer you today.

Here is a zip of their first single "Young Savage," as well as the lead tracks from each side of their debut LP, "Ultravox,""Satday Night In The City Of The Dead" and "Wide Boys."


The band was never the same after lead singer John Foxx called it quits in 1979. Midge Ure took over and the band became more successful and less interesting, making radio-friendly synth-pop that at times was so lightweight, it made Spandau Ballet sound like the U.K. Subs. Along with Television's "Marquee Moon," another brilliant debut of 1977, Ultravox's first and best release, ranks at the very top of my all time list.



I chose to repost this for two reasons. It always bothered me that only one person commented back on it's original post date in 2099. It happened to be my brother in blogging, Steve Simels, and he didn't care for the band too much.

Also, I spent a good portion of this weekend listening to some old faves at concert hall volume, and the debut from"Ultravox" sounded better than ever. I thought I'd try again.


steve simels said...

Not my cup of tea, then or now, but since I just learned today that Spandau Ballet is reforming -- I kid you not -- perhaps I should reevaluate.

Big Jim Slade said...

Hey, fun stuff. A far cry from Reap the Wild Wind. I only know Midge Ure's Ultravox from my high school years, never heard the earlier stuff. I was in Vienna for the first time last December and kept hearing Ure singing "Ohhhhh, Viennaaaaaa".

I think if you played these songs against songs from Quartet for someone who didn't know the band at all would never guess it was the same band.

Hmm, maybe I'm going to have to give another listen to early Simple Minds, too :-)

shadreck said...

Never heard much of Ultravox's music. So thanks for the introduction

Leon said...

The song "Satday Night In The City Of The Dead" is cool -- there's a point about 44 seconds in where it sounds almost 'xactly like "Subterranean Homesick Blues"!

I like it, but have to go for the aforementioned Television debut when I reach first for something from '77.

Marsupial said...

Ok, you win. I will dig out all my old Foxx-era Uvox records and give them a spin. I was a big fan of Ure's Ultravox, and I actually bought all of the Foxx-era albums, but I couldn't bring myself to play them. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard a Foxx-Uvox track, purely due to my obsessiveness not wanting to wreck a good thing in my own head. Which is weird, because it only took a couple of good Sparks songs in the 1980's to send me out to get EVERYTHING by Sparks, and they turned into my alltime fav band. So, thanks for the tip (I think).

Marsupial said...

P.S.: I can't find the original post in the archive. I was hoping to find Part 1 of Roxy Music Obsession, since I have one of those, too.

Sal Nunziato said...


You know, I couldn't find Part One either. Not sure what happened there. Part one may have just been content and not a title.

oldkdawg said...

This was/is a great album. It was in heavy rotation on my turntable way back then. Also enjoyed Ultravox Mk II (the Midge Ure era). Kind of looked at them as 2 different bands. Still, thanks for sharing.

Anything Should Happen said...

Early Roxy were ace until it became Ferry in Lounge Lizard mode. I hate Avalon.

Could always take or leave John Foxx Ultravox, but still listen to the first two Midge Ure albums.

Sal Nunziato said...

Man, do I hate "Avalon." It's played in sushi bars, as if the restaurants depended on it.