INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Trouser Press JUNE/JULY 1977 - by St. Germain de Pres
Imagine, if you will, Over Under Sideways Down as it might have been recorded in some weird dream, by a new wave band composed of the offspring of yesterday's rock stars. That sets the scene for Ultravox, a new band whose name evokes more about their image than their music. With an album jacket inspired by the first Roxy Music cover, these five image-masters seem to divide their obvious talents between posing and playing, a combination that carries no especial drawbacks unless you find that sort of commitment to looks offensive; in which case, tune out and realize that rock, for you, is dead.
When Eno produces a rock LP the conclusion is that the original material (pre-studio) was extra-specially neat. Judging from the record (on which one would be hard-pressed to figure Eno's contribution), John Foxx is quite a songster. His lyrics are ultra-modern, but firmly down to earth; no space travel for these kids. What it comes down to is an update of Bowie's London Boys lifestyles - a little new wave, a little Roxy Music, a taste of the Drs. Of Madness (ta to violinist/keyboardist Billy Currie), and a lot of smartass cynicism. What about a song entitled Life At Rainbow's End (For All The Tax Exiles On Main Street)? That isn't all: I Want To Be A Machine; The Wild, The Beautiful And The Damned; Satday Night In The City Of The Dead; get the drift? Unfortunately the promise is more or less unfulfilled, for as ugly as they may be, the record just doesn't click. A couple of tracks are good, but more than a couple are muddlesome and bland. There's not much soloing or breaks, so the tracks (no shorties in the bunch) work only when lyrics, melody, and production mesh perfectly. And that rarely happens.
It's hard to guess what Ultravox is gonna be in the long run. The album may take some more listens to break through it (TP never misses a scoop), and who knows what they're like on stage. In any case, they have my attention, and I know I'm not alone. Ultravox are anything but ordinary, but it remains to be seen what they can really accomplish.