Visage: Beyond ‘Fade To Grey’ – part 3

Polydor | GER | CD | 1997 | 537 904-2

Visage: Master Series GER CD [1997]

  1. Fade To Grey
  2. Damned Don’t Cry
  3. Love Glove
  4. Mind Of A Toy
  5. Der Amboss
  6. Questions
  7. Visage
  8. The Promise
  9. In The Year 2525
  10. The Anvil
  11. Beat Boy
  12. The Steps
  13. We Move [remix]
  14. Only The Good Die Young
  15. Motivation [inst.]
  16. Blocks On Blocks

Just because Polydor milked four versions of a comp that’s dedicated to barely more than two albums of material from Visage didn’t mean there wasn’t still life left in the old boy! The late 90s saw Polydor hitting the archives for something a little more interesting. At least the tracks are. The cover art suffers from the insane limitation that afflicted all of Polydor’s “Master Series” discs, namely a single archive photo was used endlessly throughout the package!

I was aware of this disc from when it was released but it remained until I was hitting the bins at FNAC in Madrid in 1999 that I found a copy to call my own. Of immediate interest were the appearance of a full five cuts from “Beat Boy” and my critical re-assessment of said disc began here. Listening to the five they culled [all winners, to a degree] is almost enough to make you doubt ever disliking the album at all.

The second big selling point was the first appearance of “Der Amboss” on CD. At the point when I first bought this, I did not yet own the dance mix album of “Fade To Grey,” so this was my first hearing of the ace cut. The aggressive nature of the track is only enhanced by having Strange deliver the lyrics in German. Tell tale intro segues between “Tar” point to using the dance mix album masters for this mastering.

Finally, the last bit of Monk-bait was a misfire. The appearance of “Motivation,” the instrumental B-side of “The Damned Don’t Cry” turned out to be a non-event due to a mastering error. The actual track used sounds like a late 70s/early 80s funk track with the sole lyric content being the word “Motivation” as spoken through a vocoder. It sounds like a Kool & The Gang workout but does anyone know who really wrote the track? All I know is that it was in the Polydor vaults so it had to have been one of their artists.

Spectrum Music | UK | CD | 2000 | 544 381-2

Visage: The Damned Don’t Cry UK CD  [2000]

  1. Visage
  2. Tar
  3. Fade To Grey
  4. Mind Of A Toy
  5. Night Train
  6. Whispers
  7. The Anvil
  8. We Move [dance mix]
  9. Pleasure Boys [dance mix]
  10. Love Glove
  11. The Damned Don’t Cry
  12. Beat Boy
  13. She’s A Machine
  14. In The Year 2525
  15. The Steps
  16. Frequency 7 [dance mix]

By 2000, the electroclash movement was about to erupt like a damp firecracker, but with Fischerspooner obviously raiding Steve’s old bag of tricks and getting more than enough attention for it, suits at Polydor probably thought the time was ripe for one more dip into the archives. The sole new track that hadn’t appeared on CD before was the “Love Glove” B-side, the elegant, mostly instrumental, “She’s A Machine.” Nevertheless, due to Visage compilation fatigue, I’ll admit that I sat this one out. The 2009 “Beat Boy” CD had the appropriate B-side added, so…crisis averted.

Polyfdor | UK | CD | 2010 | 5325278

Visage: The Face – The Very Best Of Visage UK CD  [2010]

  1. Fade To Grey [Michael Gray Mix 2009]
  2. Mind Of A Toy [12″ dance mix]
  3. We Move [original 7″ dance mix]
  4. Tar
  5. Fade To Grey [original 7″ dance mix]
  6. In The year 2525
  7. The Anvil
  8. Night Train
  9. The Damned Don’t Cry
  10. Love Glove
  11. Pleasure Boys [original 12″ dance mix]
  12. Visage [original 12″ dance mix]
  13. Fade To Grey [original 12″ dance mix]
  14. Der Amboss
  15. Fade To Grey [Lee Mortimer Mix 2009]

Well, well. A decade passed and it’s just not right that with synthesizer music really ascendent in the current zeitgeist that these crusty old warhorses shouldn’t show these snot-nosed punk kids how it was done back in the day! Back then they didn’t have… Pro Tools! Hell, they didn’t even have MIDI!! Just the honest sweat and toil of pale, effete engineers and tape ops with dark circles under their eyes from bouncing tracks on 2″ master tape long into the night!

This disc does have quite the selection of vintage 12″ mixes and if you’re not like me with all of this material already on CD in various obscure nooks and crannies, then this is a must buy. If only for the magnificent 12″ mix of “Visage!” If you are like me [congratulations, by the way], then at the very least you may be interested in the 2009 vintage remixes of “Fade To Grey.” It’s all the more viable in that they don’t stink and actually represent the song with all of its many delights still intact for the glossy coat of 2009 paint slapped on their chassis. This is definitely a disc I will need to buy at some point in the future and in all likelihood, the last Visage compilation CD in our time. At least they went out with a bang.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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11 Responses to Visage: Beyond ‘Fade To Grey’ – part 3

  1. Taffy says:

    Well-done three-part article on Visage comps. I was aware of the various “dust-off and polish” takes on Fade to Grey, but hadn’t realized there were all those differences in versions of other tracks (having always been an album, not singles, guy when it came to Visage). Perhaps I’ll pick up The Face on my upcoming London visit. Like my purchase list isn’t already absurdly lengthy. Thanks, PPM!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Yeah, “The Face” is a great supplement. Every time I see it I think that it should be a twofer with a bonus DVD. It’s kind of weird that the Visage DVD came out separately like it did. It would make more sense as a CD premium. Visiting London, eh? What’s the occasion? How I’d love to be at The Roundhouse tomorrow night! Anyone got a few thou to loan give me tout suite?

      I wonder if the reputed new Visage album will ever show? Strange is a mess from what I’ve heard. If it happens, I’ll chalk it up to Rusty Egan.

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      • Taffy says:

        I never need a reason to visit London; if forced to name one,I’d say it’s cuz I haven’t been in three long years. Poor me. No compelling shows to see during my five days there, alas. Meanwhile, if you haven’t heard them yet, there are 4 tracks on soundcloud by Detroit Starzz with Strange on vocals. Handy link:
        http://www.slicingupeyeballs.com/2012/02/24/steve-strange-visage-reunion-detroit-starzz/
        On first listen, i was underwhelmed, to say the least.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Taffy – I’ll have to catch those Soundcloud tracks later, when I’m at home. Caveat Emptor-a-go-go, I’m sure. I’ve heard about his Detroit Starzz work and it’s not Visage, per se, but if it’s bad, it does give one pause. Especially on the heels of the disastrous sounding gig mention I linked to on the OMD forum. Have fun abroad. It’s weird how I’m hoping for Steve to pull it together for a new album, even though he himself is the least of reasons why anyone would have listened to Visage 30+ years ago. The power of branding, ladies and gentlemen! Visage has long since stopped meaning Ultravox meets Magazine in a club and now, for better or worse, means a Welsh guy with a makeup fetish who appeared on some amazingly great tracks.

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  2. VersionCrazy says:

    Well done, Monk, always enjoy reading this kind of series. While the CD compilation ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ has its faults, just to whet your appetite you may want to track down a mispressed version of the UK issue on the Spectrum label, as the mispress includes ‘Second Steps’ instead of ‘The Steps’ and therefore this seems to be the only CD outing for that track. Can’t say that I have had luck in finding such a copy myself as yet though…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      VersionCrazy – Thanks for that undocumented Visage tip! “Second Steps” is good enough to warrant a search. There’s so many details involved in record collection. If I only had enough time in the day to devote my life to nothing but Monkdom… While I’m thinking about it, isn’t it about time for a dlx 2xCD RM of the first Visage album with a plethora of bonus tracks? Surely, it sold well enough to such treatment? I’d really appreciate the 7″ version of “Frequency 7” on CD!

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  3. chas_m says:

    Seconded!!

    Like

  4. Luca says:

    Dear Monk,
    thanks for your great blog. The unknown track on the Master Series CD may be the instrumental version of “Are You Ready”, indeed the name of the group is Motivation. You may check it here:

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Luca – Welcome to the comments! Thanks for clarifying my suspicion! I do notice that Motivation were on the Dee-Lite label, which was Kool And The Gang’s private label with Polydor. Looking back at this post, it’s amazing what Visage achieved very shortly after it was written. All of my trepidation for the notion of more Visage and look what happened? I considered it a best of breed resurgence. All of the artists involved did fantastic work and the artistic direction was sound.

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