Record Review: Visage – Visage EP

Thinking yesterday about the Wall Of Voodoo EP from late ’80 got me considering other US New Wave $5.98 EPs from the dawn of the 80s. They were quite numerous from ’80-’83 or so. Once MTV started to take off, the format seemed to recede. After all, these “weird” UK bands were getting some promo finally, so using inexpensive EPs to break them in our huge, fractionalized market lost some of its allure. One of the great early New Wave EPs was one that Polydor cobbled together to help flog the New Romantic fop Steve Strange to a nation of teens probably weaned on Van Halen. In short… what were they thinking?

Polydor | US | EP | 1981 | PX-1-501

Visage: Visage US EP [1981]

  1. We Move [dance mix]
  2. Frequency 7 [dance mix]
  3. Blocks On Blocks
  4. Fade To Grey [dance mix]
  5. Tar

When Polydor dropped this, I had already owned the Visage album for several months and was eager to hear more. I didn’t know it at the time, since I was just becoming aware of import 12″ singles, but the two “new” tracks on the A-Side of this EP were the non-LP B-sides to be found on the flip of the UK “Mind Of A Toy” 12″ single. The 6:29 dance mix is to this day, all I have ever heard of the track “We Move,” a blatant Bowie “Fame” cop. This version of the track is ubiquitous, to say the least. I have it on several records and even more optical discs [including a CDV]. What I don’t have is the straight 4:00 7″ mix of the same, so hey ho, I’ve just added the UK 7″ of “Mind Of A Toy” to my want list after not owning a copy for 31 years!

The second A-side track was the now-influential, but annoying at the time dance mix of “Frequency 7.” It also appeared on the 12″ of “Mind Of A Toy” in this 5:00 remix. The heavy riffing and slamming rhythms got a little tedious to me as a youth and I never thought too much of this track back in the day. About a decade later I finally got the opportunity to buy the debut Visage 7″ single, “Tar” and the “normal mix” of “Frequency 7” was the B-side. Having never thought too much of the dance mix, I didn’t play it immediately.  It was a year or two later when I finally got around to playing it and was fairly gobsmacked by the original cut, which was not the dance instrumental I was used to. The arrangement was far more intriguing and Steve Strange was all over the track vocally.

The LP [indeed, only] mix of “Blocks On Blocks” follows to head scratching effect. It’s not the most killa track on the Visage LP but if the goal was to goad buyers into sampling this band and then buying the album, who can say that toploading this EP with A-list material like the title cut “Visage” [my favorite track from the album] would have been a better ploy? Finally the créme de la créme is delivered. “Fade To Grey” was the first Visage track I’d heard on WPRK-FM in early 1981 and I wasted about three days after chancing to hear that cut before running to East-West Records and buying that classic. A month or two earlier I’d finally gotten “Vienna” and I was primed for more. In 1981 I was just becoming exposed to extended remixes and the version of “Fade To Grey” on this EP was tremendous. A huge dub section at the end sounded immense to my ears. As I recall, this may have been the first extended remix I’d ever heard. As the year progressed, I became more savvy about the music biz and I imagined, that this was the same track on the UK 12″ single of the song. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It transpires that the UK 12″ of “Fade To Grey” is in fact the straight album track at 3:50! Apart from larger cover art and a higher signal-to-noise ratio that a 12″ 45 will give over a 7″ 45, there was technically no premium in buying the single on 12″ format. This implies that the US extended dance mix at 6:44 was the first extended version of the track. Except that is overlooks this record I didn’t know about back then…  the German 1980 12″ of the single that in fact sports a unique 6:17 extended edit of the track. But it would be almost a decade until I heard this alternate 12″ version of the track. And I never heard it on German vinyl. I heard it on this intriguing little German CD-5 that Polydor Germany issued in 1988.

That featured the 6:17 “extended version” presumably created by Polydor Germany in much the same way that US Polydor crafted the 6:44 extended dance mix for the EP we were originally writing about today! Except that in 1981, really, only The States [apart from Jamaican dub genii] had the chops to work that 12″ magic! The German 12″ edit is a strictly perfunctory extension that I was shocked to hear the first time, since I was expecting the US mix. The German 12″ is timidly looped here and there for the most primitive of extended versions imaginable. Of course, that made this German CD-5 more valuable to me, other than it having “Beat Boy” on CD in 1988, as well as the full album mix of “The Damned Don’t Cry” during a time when “The Anvil” was hellishly scarce on CD format.

Back on topic… these record geek rabbit holes are sometimes large enough to swallow a house! The final track here on this EP was the band’s debut single, Tar,” in all of its menthol glory. I remember a reasonably big campaign for this EP with posters in store announcing the record, and it seemed to be the easiest Visage record to find in the widest array of stores. At the very least, it gave me something to chew on while whiling away the hours until “The Anvil” dropped in March of ’82, long months later.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, New Romantic, Record Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Record Review: Visage – Visage EP

  1. Echorich says:

    Visage is like crack…addictive, seemly, and a dibilitating – something you hide from your friends but drown in when your alone. Damn you Steve Strange!


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