Ultravox: The Voice UK 7″ 
- The Voice [7″ edit]
- Paths + Angles
I was sort of late to the game on collecting Ultravox B-sides. It was not until late 1982 when I ran across the Japanese compilation LP of largely non-LP material “New Europeans” for sale at a Record City store that I finally jumped into the B-side pool for that band. The LP had almost every non-LP track from the “Vienna” and “Rage In Eden” albums and was a big step up for me when I bought it. It was great hearing all of the B-sides that I would see listed in those tiny print ads that ran in Trouser Press. Having material from the sessions for those albums that I had not yet heard was electrifying.
None more so than “Paths + Angles,” the B-side for “The Voice.” When I think of my favorite B-sides, this one is always at the front of the list. I’ll go as far as saying that I don’t think the band ever made a track as great as this one going forward. The song is a fascinating blend of drummer Warren Cann’s stentorian oratory, slathered in reverb on the verses, with Midge Ure singing the chorus over a D-E-B, D-E-E chord sequence that never quite resolves itself.
The rhythm was a unique, loping motorik beat with kick bass drum machine accented by a rapid four beat tattoo at the beginning of every measure. There was something jagged, yet regimented about it. That spilled over to the minimal guitar atmospherics that Ure laid down on the track, often mixed to hard left. Synths were minimal; primarily treated piano, with little of the usual Billy Currie flash and pitch bending, though he did sneak in a viola solo; the hallmark of Imperial Period Ultravox. Bassist Chris Cross stuck to sequenced synth bass on this track. Yet it all coalesces thanks to the song’s killer melodic hooks which were joined with the typically compulsive Krautrock rhythms that Ultravox were always wont to use.
The emotional tone of the song also gave it an added cache with my ears. I enjoyed the clinically dispassionate feel to it all. A feeling that was only cranked up several notches by having Warren Cann deliver the verses in his usual low register sprechtgesang delivery. This vibe, coupled with the rolling, rhythmic feel conspired to make this one a perfect storm of Ultravox sonic DNA on this B-side. I thought that there was a willingness not to pander here and it suited the band particularly well.
The story of how the “Rage In Eden” sessions were made is already the stuff of legend. The band decamped to Köln, Germany to spend three tense months locked up in Conny Plank’s studio without a single note written before hand. The stresses stretched the band to the breaking point, but it played out nicely in the introverted paranoia of the album itself. There was a slightly better sense of “breathing room” on this B-side, which I suppose explained why this somewhat expansive cut was taken out of the running order for the most claustrophobic of Ultravox’s albums. It made sense, even though I found this to be a superior song to anything else on the “Rage In Eden” album.
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