Jason M. Carzon | bowie, maryland United States | 04/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This album, the final Ultravox release to feature singer/guitarist Midge Ure, is widely seen as a letdown to most of their fans and even the band themselves. Chalk it up to change. In reality, this album is decent, very decent, yet lacks too. In the early 80's, Ultravox' sound was a unique hybrid of electronic, rock and European classical styles. Sombre, atmospheric and powerful with a touch of cool, icy mystique. This was 1980-1984. Many bands have a period like this when thier classic line-up period ends but they have one more album in them, one that is by your favorite line-up but also one that doesn't quite fit in with the rest of their albums. This is one such record.
Someone mentioned a promo photo in which they wore Hawaian shirts, smiling. This rather than suits & ties and emotionless expressions. Drummer Warren Cann is also absent here, reducing U-vox to a trio. His robotic rhythms were a big feature of previous albums, and his replacement, Mark Brzezicki, a powerful drummer in his own right, adds more swing to the proceedings. Midge Ure had also changed. As of the previous year, he had begun to outgrow Ultravox. He now had a succesful solo album(1985's the Gift), the 'Do They Know Its Christmas' single and a big hand in Live Aid under his belt, and one could be forgiven if they thought Midge may haver been involved in this album as a contractual obligation. His writing and overall aura seem to be going in a new direction, that of the slightly adult contemporary solo artist with a political bent ala Sting, Bono etc. Other features which add to the 'thawing out' of Ultravox include horn sections, backing vocals, acoustic guitar and orchestral arangements. This is a more organic sounding album.
Billy Currie, pretty much the 'sound' of Ultravox, is curiously restrained on this album. His European styled piano and Kraftwerk synths are replaced by more streamlined 80's style synths. There is not much of his violin at all. All in all, this album is a curious one to hear. Not for those who would have kept them sounding like 'Vienna' forever. Clearly the band was going in a more streamlined, current(for 1986) MTV sound, and were possibly trying for a hit. They lost some of their edge but did deliver a set of catchy songs. Not as bad as many make out to be. The trax:
SAME OLD STORY - a stab at a single perhaps, horns and background singers put this on the opposite side of 'Rage In Eden'.
SWEET SURRENDER - Big Country's Mark B's drummer is powerful and in your face. This track reminds me the band Saga during this same period who were going through the same problem. Billy's piano comes in for a bit here too.
DREAM ON - atmospheric track with interesting bassline which harks back to Lament or Quartet, the closest to the old U-vox sound, though not the best here.
THE PRIZE - catchy and positive song about going for the gold, with horns and backing vox again. Another potential hit single.
ALL FALL DOWN - you wouldn't think this was Ultravox. This one is a Celtic-styled folk song featuring guests The Chieftans. Very Celtic with anti-Cold War lyrics, this could well be a solo Midge track. The other members appear absent. Not what you would expect but effective nonetheless.
Time To Kill - a more traditional Ultravox track in the Lament album direction, with strains of acoustic guitar as well.
MOONMADNESS - possibly the weakest track on the album, but catchy enough. A definate album cut.
FOLLOW YOUR HEART - another track typical of late Midge period Ultravox.
ALL IN ONE DAY - a far ways away from their John Foxx period, or the electronic smoothness of their early 80's work, this track is one of the band's more beautiful tracks. Here we get an anthem living up to Ultravox' more classical leanings but rather than a lone viola or a few piano runs from Billy Currie, this time we get a powerful orchestral arrangement. Listen to it loud.
Give this album a chance, there's decent stuff on it. It IS different and put off a lot of fans who couldn't accept change. But think about it: how many Bowie fans hurled their copies of 'Let's Dance' at the wall when they first hear it because it wasn't Ziggy Stardust or Heroes? Ultravox just went for a change, which was a springboard for Midge Ure's later success.
This was the end of the band, and you can hear them fall apart. But given the circumstances, they still pulled together a decent album."
Not the best way to go out...
Peter D Rivera | 04/06/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I remember seeing a promotional picture from this era of the band and it had them decked out in Hawaiian shirts. This new image from the the band that brought commercialized depressive synth-pop to the world just didn't take with their fans (including me) at all. Its a mess of songs that shouldn't be all on the same album, but years later I have been revisiting this disk and finding it all far more palatable than when I first tolerated it back in 86. The drumming by Mark B. from Big Country really holds the record together, and some of the melodies just hold on after repeated listenings.This recording DOES foreshadow the cheezy pseudo-Sting music that Midge Ure would release over the rest of his career. The mysterious veneer that attracted me to the band is simply not there. As a twenty-something this was heresy for me and I lamented the last serious era of my favorite band for years.Its an oddity, strangely compelling at times. In aggregate, a disaster. But why am I going to put it on right now and listen to it? Who knows? You might have the same strange attraction to this flame-out as I do."
Bjorn Viberg | European Union | 07/28/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"U-Vox is a terrible album. The sound that made Ultravox so compelling is all but gone and replaced with the cheesy pseudo Sting like music that Midge has produced ever since he quit Ultravox with the exception being If I was. This album is an abomination compared to their earlier releases like Quartet, Vienna, Lament and Rage in Eden. This is the beginning of the end for Midge Ure as a songwriter. From now on his music has been more or less schlock. This album should never have been released."
Last great album from Midge Ure era
J. Houzet | Chicago, IL | 04/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I got hooked on Ultravox and Midge Ure after borrowing The Collection from my cousin back in '86 or so. I was an '80s teen and interested in a diverse range of music (mostly British) which grew out of the new wave era: The Police, Men at Work, U2, Big Country, OMD, Duran Duran, etc. Synth sounds were hugely appealing and thus the attraction to Ultravox, although their stuff was not all radio-friendly.
I soon found Midge Ure's solo outing with If I Was on it, as well as some other gems and a cover of a Jethro Tull song. So when I saw the latest album U-Vox in stores back then, I just had to have it. I did find the sound a bit different, probably more mainstream than their earlier stuff, but it was still great. Songs like Same Old Story and The Prize were blaring from the radio back then, and remain as aurally appealing today as then. There is also a great collaboration on one song with the Irish (Scottish?) folk band, The Chieftains.
Ultravox had lost their own drummer, so they scored a coup by getting Big Country's Mark Brzezicki to drum for them. This guy is probably the best drummer in the business after John Bonham.
But the band was starting to come apart. I simply was not interested in Ultravox before Midge Ure and am not interested in it since he left the band. It was like ELO without Jeff Lynne or Chicago without Peter Cetera."
It's alright to pretend this album doesn't exist
sigfpe | Oakland, CA United States | 01/20/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Don't talk about it. Don't buy it. Don't play it. Maybe it'll never be rereleased and every copy of it will eventually disappear."