FV 41296 Vienna
Produced by Ultravox and Conny Plank
Released on July 1980
UK CHART POSITION #3 . . . US CHART POSITION #164
Find it at GEMM
FV 41296 cover  

Europe’s past and future come together in music on Vienna. More than just a new chapter for Ultravox, this may qualify as a whole new story line. The cold, Teutonic sounds of Kraftwerk dancing with the ghosts of old Europe (resurrected in Billy Currie’s keyboards and strings) somehow reconciles the impersonal future with the gypsy past. At the time, Vienna leapfrogged the expectations of electronic music; “Western Promise” and “Vienna” felt like intellectual pursuits but beat with a passionate heart. Though clearly a group effort, Midge Ure deserves a lot of credit for combining vocals that could run hot or cold on command; with the guitar mostly invisible, Ure’s voice and Currie’s synthesizer are often the only two sources of commentary in the music. David Bowie and Kraftwerk were clear influences, and yet Vienna felt like the album they never made, a rare case of the student surpassing the master. The road to Vienna actually started with the single “Sleepwalk,” released in the summer of 1980. It’s a good example of the band’s robotic gypsy music, and gave Ultravox their first Top 40 single. That success was followed by “Passing Strangers,” “Vienna” (which nearly topped the UK charts) and the Eno-esque “All Stood Still” (a Top 10 hit in the UK). Though it’s a tired phrase, Vienna really did put Ultravox on the map. Subsequent albums seemed to anticipate a wider commercial audience, incorporating elements of the dance floor into their music. By contrast, Vienna was crafted to a higher ideal, rejecting imitation and effecting inspiration. 1980 produced several albums that would change the direction of music: Peter Gabriel’s third album, Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, David Bowie’s Scary Monsters. Add to that list Vienna.

FV 41296 back cover
FV 41296 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. SLEEPWALK    3:09
  2. PASSING STRANGERS    3:48
  3. NEW EUROPEANS    4:00
  4. PRIVATE LIVES    4:05
  5. ASTRADYNE    7:10
  6. MR. X    6:33
  7. WESTERN PROMISE    5:19
  8. VIENNA    4:53
  9. ALL STOOD STILL    4:22

    All songs written by Billy Currie/Chris Cross/Warren Cann/Midge Ure

CREDITS

WARREN CANN -- drums, electronic percussion, vocals
CHRIS CROSS -- bass, synthesizers, vocals
BILLY CURRIE -- synthesizers, piano, violin, viola
MIDGE URE -- lead vocals, guitars, synthesizers
Brian Griffin -- photography
Glenn Travis -- design

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REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK July 1980 Chrysalis LP/CS    
US July 1980 Chrysalis LP/CS CHR 1296  
JPN 1980 Chrysalis LP WWS 81355 w. insert
  1980 Chrysalis LP LL 0649  
US   Chrysalis LP FV 41269 reissue of CHR 1269 w. label on spine
  1985 Chrysalis CD 21269  
  February 15, 2000 EMI CD 525523  

 

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