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Monday, 1 June 2015

Alphabet Beats #143: U is for....Ultravox! (1976-79)

U is for...

Today's choice on Alphabet Beats is a band that I have a fond affection for and whose music was clearly something very fascinating in the years of Punk and New Wave. Click on the links to enjoy the music.

The life of Ultravox can be seen as a series of movements:
01. The John Foxx Years (1974-79)
02. The Midge Ure Years (1979-88)
03. The Midgeless Years (1992-96)
04. The Return of the Midge Years (2009-Present)

For the purposes of this post it is the First Movement that is of particular interest to me. It's not that I didn't particularly like what followed in 2-4 because there are a few songs that I do like but the original line up of the band just appealed to me more.

I was wondering how best to describe the music of early Ultravox! and the best thing I could come up was this: The Glam of Roxy Music meets the Art of David Bowie meets the Rockiness of The Doctors of Madness on the way home!

Ultravox! began life as Tiger Lily in 1973, in 1974 they played their debut show at The Marquee supporting The Heavy Metal Kids, recorded a cover of the Fats Waller song 'Ain't Misbehavin' (backed by 'Monkey Jive') in 1975, began a process of name changes mid-1976 after their live shows came to the attention of Island Records who promptly signed them. Island Records wanted them to be called The Zips (obviously so they could flaunt them as "the Punk band they signed") but the band eventually settled on Ultravox! because no one else liked it and according to Warren Cann, "It sounds like an electrical device and that's what we are"

Their first recorded music on Island Records was in 1976 on the Sampler 'Rock and Reggae and Derek and Clive'. It was the song 'The Wild, The Beautiful and The Damned'. As they had not quite settled on the choice of name it was simply credited to ?

Their debut single ('Dangerous Rhythm'/'My Sex') was released in January 1977 and the album followed on the 25th February. Some songs on the debut were written and performed when they were Tiger Lily. The standout track for me on this is 'The Wild, The Beautiful and The Damned'.

In 1977 they played the Reading Festival (one of the only Punk/New Wave Bands to do so, and they would return again in 1978).

Prior to the release of the debut album they supported Eddie and the Hot Rods at The Rainbow. Obviously Island Records were demonstrating their wisdom here because the Hot Rods were filming the show and recording and in kind of a two for one deal label mates Ultravox! were added to the bill and their set was recorded also (tracks from it were released as B-sides and on a Live EP).

Ultravox! (February 1977)

Ha!-Ha!-Ha! (October 1977)

Frozen Ones/The Man That Dies Every Day was released as a single from the album but only in Germany.

Live Retro EP was released in February 1978 containing four tracks recorded live at three different shows

Systems of Romance (September 1978)

Slow Motion and Quiet Men were released as a singles.

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