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Music / Ultravox

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The '80s lineup.note 

The feeling has gone, only you and I
It means nothing to me,
This means nothing to me,
Oh, Vienna.

Ultravox is a British New Wave band, known primarily for their '80s hits such as "Vienna" and "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes". Their best-known lineup includes vocalist Midge Ure, keyboardist Billy Currie, bassist Chris Cross, and drummer Warren Cann.

The band has gone through two significant phases of their career, the first as a five-piece with lead singer John Foxx. They formed in 1974 as a Glam Rock band under the name Tiger Lily before becoming Ultravox! in 1976 and releasing their self-titled debut in 1977, produced by Brian Eno and Steve Lillywhite. Their sound was closer to Roxy Music and David Bowie, but their follow-up Ha!-Ha!-Ha! later that year was aggressive Punk Rock that incorporated synthesizers. They dropped the exclamation point from their name for their third album, Systems of Romance - while none of their records took hold in the charts, Systems of Romance took the band in a more synth-driven, romantic direction that heavily influenced the burgeoning New Romantic scene. Foxx left the band shortly after to pursue a moderately successful solo career.


Following Foxx's departure, Scottish Glam Rock and Synth-Pop veteran Midge Ure joined the band as frontman, himself a fan of Systems of Romance and a former bandmate of Currie from Visage. Where Foxx was an enigmatic, detached frontman, Ure was more dramatic and aristocratic in his delivery. Their next album Vienna picked up where Systems left off, and it scored the band their first and most enduring major hit with the title track. What followed was a six year run of top 10 albums and a second enduring 80s hit, "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes".

In 1984, Ure helped co-write the Band Aid charity single "Do They Know it's Christmas" and released a solo album the year after while the band was taking a break. They returned with U-Vox, but after the sacking of Warren Cann and replacement by Big Country's Mark Brzezicki, the band felt the record was "unfocused", and Ure and Chris Cross left the band. Billy Currie headed the band until finally calling quits in 1988. He attempted a revival in 1992 with none of the other original members and recorded two more albums before the project dissolved a second time.


Ultravox spontaneously reformed with the classic lineup of Ure, Currie, Cross and Cann in 2009 for a reunion tour. While the band insisted they were not recording new material, their eleventh album Brill!ant was released in 2012 before the band split up a third time, seemingly for good.

Studio Albums

John Foxx era

  • Ultravox! (1977) - As Ultravox!
  • Ha!-Ha!-Ha! (1977) - As Ultravox!
  • Systems of Romance (1978)

Midge Ure era

  • Vienna (1980)
  • Rage in Eden (1981)
  • Quartet (1982)
  • Lament (1984)
  • U-Vox (1986)

Billy Currie era

  • Revelation (1993)
  • Ingenuity (1994)

Classic Lineup reunion

  • Brill!ant (2012)

This band provides examples of:

  • The '80s
  • Excited Show Title!: The band's early name of Ultravox!
  • Glam Rock: The band's early incarnation Tiger Lily and their self-titled debut, taking influence from Roxy Music and David Bowie.
  • In Name Only: The 90's incarnation of the band, a pop-rock unit consisting of a totally new lineup save for Billy Currie.
  • Loudness War: Averted with the 1998-2000 and 2008-2009 remasters of the Ure-era output, which never dip below DR10 on the studio albums and DR9 on the 2008-2009 releases' bonus discs. The Foxx-era albums' 2006 remasters, while not as good, are still generally quite decent, ranging from DR8 to a healthy DR11.
  • New Wave Music
  • New Romantic: Greatly influential to the genre with the Foxx-led Systems of Romance and later with the Ure-led band.
  • New Sound Album: Vienna and Revelation; Brill!ant is an unusual example in that it brings the band's sound back to what they were known for throughout the 80's.
  • Post-Punk: The John Foxx incarnation.
  • Punk Rock: The band's early records with John Foxx, most prominently in Ha!-Ha!-Ha! and the non-album single "Young Savage".
  • Shout-Out: The exclamation point in Ultravox! was a reference to Krautrock band Neu!, an influence on the early band and with whom their future producer Conny Plank worked.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Warren Cann takes the microphone for "Mr. X", a breakdown in the album version of "We Came to Dance", and the B-sides "Paths and Angles" and "Break Your Back".


Example of: