ATTENTION! This is not a Remastered!
Norbert Lutterbach | 12/15/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Folks, pay attention to this release. In my opinion it is a complete fake of EMI or someone else, who propagates here a digitally remastered version of the original material of QUARTET. But, in fact there absolutely is no difference between the bad quality of the CHRYSALIS release from 1983 (CD) and this one. NO ONE! And the extra tracks are of a minor music quality, only interesting to hard-core fans.
Buy this CD, but don't be disappointed. For me, it is pure money-making."
Integrity and accessibility rolled into one
Axel H. | Norway | 03/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ultravox, under the rule of Midge Ure, was a journey to form a new sound. At the time, few artists did so much to legitimise the use of synths as these four men. For their third effort with Midge Ure, their sixth in total, they abandoned Germany and producer Conny Plank in favour of legendary Beatles producer George Martin and his AIR Studios in Montserrat.
1. Reap the Wild Wind
Following the proud tradition of Astradyne and The Voice from Quartet's predecessors, 'Reap the Wild Wind' is a grandiose track, showing that a Yamaha SS-30 string synth can easily do the job of a symphony orchestra to great effect. Not the best track on the album, but definitely held in high regard in my book.
This song serves a good reminder that this is the band behind Rage in Eden. Like the optimistic little brother of 'I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)' from RiE, Serenade never really seems to let go once it's finished. It's the perfect example of a good non-single album cut, following the prime template set by spiritual predecessors on both Vienna and RiE.
3. Mine For Life
If 'Serenade' was the younger brother of 'I Remember', 'Mine for Life' owes a lot to 'Passing Strangers', the second single from Vienna. One can certainly see that Ultravox had good templates from previous tracks, and continued to use them. Not a bad thing at all, at least not on this album. I'm particularily partial to Midge Ure's clockwork guitar playing on this track, including his trademark "back-to-front" harmonic wail.
If U2 brought religious overtones to the post-punk genre with 'Gloria', Ultravox brought it to New Wave with 'Hymn'. Taking the soundscapes of 'Reap the Wild Wind' to a new high, 'Hymn' is where Ultravox really lets loose in a pomp-fest which they could never hope to top in a million years, a record they fortunately never attempted to break. This is the track I have played the most out of the Quartet material, but 'Visions in Blue' is catching up now...
5. Visions in Blue
When I first heard 'Vienna', I believed that they would never make something so profoundly eerie and majestic again. Boy, was I wrong! Hardcore fans may scathe me for ranking 'Visions in Blue' over the uncontested magnum opus of Ure-era Ultravox, but I guess I might have played 'Vienna' to death. The heartfelt vocal delivery exhibited by Midge Ure, placed on top of Billy Currie's delicate piano and brooding synth strings comes at you full force and will haul your heart out of your throat of you are caught unprepared.
6. When the Scream Subsides
Here lies a track that has perfectly married the old and new sound of Ultravox (and by "old" I still mean the previous two albums). Irresistably catchy, but taking the middle ground inbetween tracks like 'Serenade' and 'Hymn'. A little gem in its own right.
7. We Came to Dance
Truth be told, I never cared much for this track. There is something about the main hook that repels me, but I cannot place my finger on it. In my opinion, this is a slight flaw in an otherwise well-crafted album.
8. Cut and Run
Here, Ultravox has taken the sound from 'When the Scream Subsides' and dimmed the lights a few notches, making the tune slightly sinister with a well-placed hint of nervousness. A sure-fire recipe for a good synthrock track, but it suffers from it not being as cohesive as 'When the Scream Subsides'.
9. The Song (We Go)
Apart from 'Mine for Life' and 'Hymn', this is by far one of the more concert-friendly tracks. A large burst of optimism to end this exercise in increasing the stadium potetial of Ultravox. This is also where drummer Warren Cann gets to have a little fun - he eschews the normal drumkit for a bunch of electronics. A sequenced hi-hat and a Simmons SDS-V electronic drumkit are his weapons of choice, and he really gets to showcase his abilities with the hexagonal pads here. A real mood lifter of a song.
10. Hosanna (In Excelsis Deo)
Instrumental B-side. Don't listen to it at night if you easily get jumpy or if you're just afraid of the dark.
Their best instrumental since 'Astradyne', without a doubt. Used as a theme for the Quartet tour, it gave the tour an alternate name: the Monument tour, dubbed so from the live EP made from recordings at their Hammersmith Odeon show in '83 bearing the same name as this track.
12. Break Your Back
Drummer Warren Cann gave his dark narration to quite a few Ultravox tracks, but never in such an unintelligible manner as on this track, where all he utters is distorted rambling. Musically, the track would owe a lot to Herbie Hancock's 'Rockit', but I have a feeling it's more a satirical jab at the hip-hop funk of its time, which was based on 'Rockit'-clones. Warren might know...
A quasi-instrumental track laced with fine instrumentation, sounding like a sonic experiment or something unfinished. I seem to hear passages from the 1981 B-side 'Paths and Angels' interspersed in the instrumentation...
Overall, I'll have to say that the two preceeding albums are superior, but I enjoy listening to Quartet, and I'm quite sure it would be an easy start if you want to know Ultravox. Lament is too far removed from their initial soundscape, but here we can clearly hear that it's the same sounds that have recieved a thorough polish. This makes for a pleasant listen, and those who worry for the integrity of the band can relax - it's not without their own edge.
Quartet is a classic in its own right, but the shoes are still a few sizes too big to fill. Otherwise a magnificent effort, though..."
Quartet ~ Ultravox
Bjorn Viberg | European Union | 07/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One would think that a band can not string together three awesome albums in a row? How could they? But with Ultravox and Midge Ure they did just this and Quartet is even better then Rage in Eden and Vienna. Songs like Reap the wild wind, Hymn, Visions in Blue and We came to Dance prove that they are truly gifted musicians, vocalists and lyricists. George Martin (The Beatles) helped them produce this album and the end result is truly astounding."