Vienna (album)

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Vienna
Studio album by Ultravox
Released 11 July 1980
Recorded February 1980, RAK Studios, London (mixed at Conny Plank's Studio near Cologne, Germany)
Genre Post-punk, electronic, art rock
Length 43:37
Label Chrysalis
Producer Ultravox and Conny Plank
Ultravox chronology
Three into One
(1979)
Vienna
(1980)
Rage in Eden
(1981)
Singles from Vienna
  1. "Sleepwalk"
    Released: 16 June 1980
  2. "Passing Strangers"
    Released: 3 October 1980
  3. "Vienna"
    Released: 2 January 1981
  4. "All Stood Still"
    Released: 20 May 1981

Vienna is the fourth studio album by British new wave band Ultravox, first released on Chrysalis Records on 11 July 1980. The album was the first made by Ultravox with their best-known line-up, after Midge Ure had taken over as lead vocalist and guitarist following the departures of John Foxx and Robin Simon, and it was also the group's first release for Chrysalis. Vienna was produced by renowned German producer Conny Plank who had also produced Ultravox's previous album Systems of Romance, and mixed at Plank's studio near Cologne, Germany. The album had a slow start, but the release in January 1981 of the title track as the third single from the album heralded the band's commercial breakthrough worldwide and led to healthy sales throughout 1981. Vienna peaked at number 3 in the UK Albums Chart and reached the top ten in Australia, New Zealand and several European countries.

Ultravox effectively changed pace, style and audience with the arrival of Ure, who had already participated in early New Romantic ventures with Visage and actually steered the ensemble in that direction for the years to come. Many different styles are in use on the album; "Astradyne" is a long instrumental featuring sweeping, majestic synthesizer arrangements throughout, while "Mr. X" is a simpler, much sparser affair. The lyrics to the album's songs were mainly written by Ure and drummer Warren Cann, who also takes a rare lead vocal on "Mr. X".

Vienna was remastered and re-issued on CD in 2000 on the EMI Gold label. This release also included a selection of B-sides from the album's singles as bonus tracks as well as the promotional video for the "Vienna" single. The definitive version of the Vienna album was released in 2008 and included a second disc of rare and previously unreleased tracks.

Singles[edit]

Four singles were released from the album from 1980 to 1981, the most prominent one being the title track which hit No. 2 in the UK charts.

  1. "Sleepwalk" (16 June 1980, No. 29 UK)
  2. "Passing Strangers" (15 October 1980, No. 57 UK)
  3. "Vienna" (15 January 1981, No. 2 UK)
  4. "All Stood Still" (26 May 1981, No. 8 UK)

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Melody Maker favourable[2]
Mojo 3/5 stars (2008 reissue)[3]
NME average[4]
Q 3/5 stars (2000 reissue)[5]
Q 2/5 stars (2008 reissue)[6]
Robert Christgau C[7]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[8][dead link]
Smash Hits 8/10[9]
Sounds 4.5/5 stars[10]

Reviews for Vienna were mixed, with Ure's introduction and the move towards mainstream pop dividing the critics. Sounds gave the album an enthusiastic review, and challenged the reader, "I dare you to find another band who can mix Euro systems-rock, electronics, Can's fairground style and English music with such panache".[10] Melody Maker was generally positive but felt the album contained weak moments, saying that "the first half of side two reveals the most tedious liabilities. Electronic clichés are no worse than guitar clichés, but they're more likely to sound pompous." Overall, however, the review concluded, "Ultravox deserve success. This should do the trick."[2] NME was indifferent, calling Vienna "an album of gaudy, sometimes magnificent, but mostly hollow edifices, housing songs that replace Foxx's elliptical imagery with clumsily verbose descriptions of similar scenery", and described that imagery as "seemingly derived from Hollywood films of the continent... it's similarly full of glamour and lacking in true essence". The review presciently concluded, "Despite their wanton plagiarism and less clearly defined ideas, Vienna will probably be the album that makes Ultravox because, unfettered of Foxx's commitment, they're free to compromise themselves a touch to suit contemporary tastes."[4]

Reviewing the 2000 reissue, Q called Vienna the band's "best album" and stating that "there were fine singles such as 'Sleepwalk' and 'All Stood Still' and the title track which – like a cartoon hippo – remains pompous yet loveable."[5] However, the review of the deluxe version eight years later was less favourable towards the album, describing it as "sounding as cold and artificial as ever".[6] Also reviewing the 2008 version, Mojo said that "[the title track]'s studied grandeur has aged far less well than the electro-rush of lead-off single 'Sleepwalk', the instrumental 'Astradyne', or the punishing riff-rock of 'New Europeans'. Ultimately, Vienna, with its winning formula of cold futurism and big rock textures, took Ultravox out of the margins and into the big-haired '80s mainstream."[3]

AllMusic said, "There are plenty of pretentious and pompous moments at which Foxx-era purists cringe, but taken as a snooty rebellion against the guitar-heavy climate of the late '70s, they're ignorable... Add Anton Corbijn's photography and Peter Saville's smart cover design and all the ingredients for an early-'80s classic are there. A few albums later, it would all seem like a fluke, but on Vienna, all the pieces come together."[1]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie and Midge Ure except where noted.

European version[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Astradyne" – 7:07
  2. "New Europeans" – 4:01
  3. "Private Lives" – 4:06
  4. "Passing Strangers" – 3:48
  5. "Sleepwalk" – 3:10

Side two[edit]

  1. "Mr. X" – 6:33
  2. "Western Promise" – 5:18
  3. "Vienna" – 4:53
  4. "All Stood Still" – 4:21

North American version[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Sleepwalk" – 3:10
  2. "Passing Strangers" – 3:48
  3. "New Europeans" – 4:01
  4. "Private Lives" – 4:06
  5. "Astradyne" – 7:07

Side two[edit]

  1. "Mr. X" – 6:33
  2. "Western Promise" – 5:18
  3. "Vienna" – 4:53
  4. "All Stood Still" – 4:21

2000 reissue bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Waiting" (B-side of "Sleepwalk") – 3:51
  2. "Passionate Reply" (B-side of "Vienna") – 4:17
  3. "Herr X" (German version of "Mr. X" – B-side of "Vienna" 12") – 5:49
  4. "Alles Klar" (B-side of "All Stood Still") – 4:53
  5. "Vienna" (promotional video for single)

2008 Remastered Definitive Edition[edit]

Disc one as original album.

Disc Two[edit]

  1. "Sleepwalk" (early version) – 3:23
  2. "Waiting" – 3:51
  3. "Face to Face" (recorded live at St Albans, 16 Aug 1980 – B-side of "Passing Strangers") – 6:04
  4. "King's Lead Hat" (Brian Eno) (recorded live at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980 – B-side of "Passing Strangers" 12") – 4:06
  5. "Passionate Reply" – 4:17
  6. "Herr X" – 5:49
  7. "All Stood Still" (12" version) – 5:08
  8. "Alles Klar" – 4:53
  9. "Keep Talking" (cassette recording during rehearsals) – 6:23
  10. "Sleepwalk" (recorded live in rehearsals at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980) – 3:43
  11. "All Stood Still" (recorded live in rehearsals at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980) – 4:35

2014 remastered vinyl edition[edit]

As original album – came with a bonus 7" single of "Sleepwalk" and "All Stood Still" recorded live in rehearsals at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980 (the same two tracks that appear at the end of the second disc of the 2008 edition).

Personnel[edit]

Ultravox:

  • Warren Cann – drums, electronic percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Mr. X" and "Herr X"
  • Chris Cross – bass, synthesizers, backing vocals
  • Billy Currie – piano, synthesizers (ARP Odyssey), viola, violin
  • Midge Ure – guitars, synthesizers, lead vocals (except on "Mr. X" and "Herr X")

Additional personnel:

  • Conny Plank – co-production
  • Brian Griffin & Brian Aris – band photography

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
Worldwide 11 July 1980 Chrysalis LP CHR 1296
cassette ZCHR 1296
United Kingdom 1983 CD 0946 3 21296 2 8
United Kingdom & Europe 10 April 2000 EMI Gold Remastered CD 7243 5 25523 0 6
United Kingdom 22 September 2008 Chrysalis Remastered Definitive Edition CD CHRX 1296
Europe 5099923436527
United Kingdom & Europe 15 December 2014 Weatherbox Remastered 180 gram white
vinyl with bonus 7" single
VIN180LP080

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jeffries, David. Ultravox – Vienna > Review at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b Kiley, Penny (5 July 1980). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 18. 
  3. ^ a b Buckley, David (January 2009). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Mojo (London, England: Bauer Media Group) (182): 122. 
  4. ^ a b Bohn, Chris (12 July 1980). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". NME (London, England: IPC Media): 38. 
  5. ^ a b Quantick, David (July 2000). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Q (London, England: EMAP) (166): 137. 
  6. ^ a b Kane, Peter (November 2008). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Q (London, England: Bauer Media Group): 129. 
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Ultravox: Vienna". Robert Christgau.com. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Rolling Stone review
  9. ^ Taylor, Steve. "Albums". Smash Hits (10–23 July 1980): 31. 
  10. ^ a b Gill, John (5 July 1980). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Sounds (London, England: Spotlight Publications): 36. 
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, New South Wales, Australia: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH.
  13. ^ "Ultravox – Vienna" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien.
  14. ^ "Ultravox – Vienna". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien.
  15. ^ "Ultravox – Vienna". Norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien.
  16. ^ "Ultravox – Vienna". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien.
  17. ^ "Ultravox | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart
  18. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1982). "The Top 200 LPs: January–December 1981". BPI Year Book 1982 (5th ed.). London, England: The British Phonographic Industry Ltd. pp. 50–53. ISBN 0-906154-03-0. 
  19. ^ Jones, Alan; Lazell, Barry; Rees, Dafydd (1982). "The Top 200 Albums (UK)". Chart File 1982. London, England: Virgin Books. pp. 78–81. ISBN 0-9-07080-49-9. 
  20. ^ "British album certifications – Ultravox – Vienna". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Vienna in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search

External links[edit]