INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Uncut AUGUST 2016 - by Jim Wirth
ULTRAVOX!: THE ISLAND YEARS
Foxxy music: pre-Midge art-rockers anthologised
Punk cool blown once it emerged that John Foxx and pals had recorded a pre-revolutionary cheesefest, Ain't Misbehavin', as Tiger Lily back in 1975, Ultravox! emerged both too late and too early. Had their Brian Eno-produced debut come out before 1977, they would have been the sexy new Roxy Music; had their third record, 1978's Systems Of Romance, been their first, they would have been foundational New Romantics. However, if their timing stank, this recap of their Foxx-era LPs confirms their music did not. The proto-Tubeway Army alienation of their first album gives way to spiky-topped JG Ballard-ry on Ha! Ha! Ha! - opening one-two Rockwrok and The Frozen Ones a killer combination of The Rocky Horror Show and Joy division. Ditching their ! for Systems Of Romance, a Conny Plank-produced apotheosis of yankee-go-home euro-art-rock, Ultravox peaked, the totalitarian synth-pop of Slow Motion the summation of man-machine vision. Island dropped them soon afterwards, and Foxx quit, with the Midge Ure-era 'Vox a markedly different beast. "I'll never make music as good as Ultravox," Gary Numan said in 1980. Few contemporaries did.
EXTRAS: A fourth disc contains singles, Whistle Test recordings and all four songs from their 1977 Peel Session (only three were previously commercially available).