Not only did they have the best ever name for a band but Ultravox! (later Ultravox) allegedly were the first British band to release a single which featured a drum machine (the Roland TR-77 rhythm box on ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’). John Foxx was definitely a man of the future and even before synths had taken over the band’s sound he penned the song ‘I Want To Be A Machine’.

The track I’ve posted here, ‘Crossfade’, is an Ultravox-produced b-side of a single taken from their third album. Released in 1978 and produced in Germany by Conny Plank of Neu!, the album ‘Systems Of Romance’ was widely influential – Gary Numan hailed the album as his single biggest musical influence. But like the two albums that came before it, it was a commercial failure and Foxx decided to leave the group to try a solo career, his classic album ‘Metamatic’ being the result. Keyboardist/violinist Billy Currie temporarily left around this time to join Gary Numan’s touring band and featured on Numan’s ‘The Pleasure Principle’.

Currie had also been working with Midge Ure on Steve Strange and Rusty Egan’s Visage project, and Currie brought in Ure to replace Foxx and try to revitalise Ultravox. With Plank again producing, the album ‘Vienna’ would finally provide the band with a hit. It also features the amazing track ‘Mr X’ which would inspire Juan Atkins and Rick Davis to make their Cybotron classic, ‘Alleys Of Your Mind’. As for the track ‘Vienna’, it doesn’t get any more nostalgic for me than that.

I’ve posted the video here to 1977’s ‘Wide Boys’ because it’s interesting to remember that Ultravox! came from a new wave punk background.

‘Wide Boys’, 1977

‘All Stood Still’, 1980

Posted by Manny Z

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