Visage’s “The Wild Life” Collection – Deluxe, Delightful…And Definitive [disc 2]

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD-R | 2016 | SSC002

Steve Strange Collective | UK | CD-R | 2016 | SSC002

Disc 2 – Visage: The Wild Life [The Best of 1978-2015] UK CD-R [downloads] [2016]

  1. Fade To Grey (Main Version)
  2. Mind Of A Toy (Main Version)
  3. Visage (Main Version)
  4. Tar (Original 7” Version)
  5. The Anvil (Main Version)
  6. The Anvil (Main Version)
  7. Night Train (Main Version)
  8. The Damned Don’t Cry (Main Version)
  9. Pleasure Boys (Main Version)
  10. Never Enough (Original Version)
  11. Dreamer, I Know (Original Version)
  12. She’s Electric (Coming Around) (Original Version)
  13. Hidden Sign (Tiger Face Flame Remix)
  14. Love Glove (Orchestral Version)
  15. Aurora (Original Version)
  16. The Silence (Original Version)
  17. Tightrope (Original Version)

The second disc of the 7xdisc version was the download version of “The Wild Life.” The Steve Strange Collective had secured licensing rights to the Universal owned masters of the band as recorded in ’80-’82 only for the single disc version on CD as reviewed last post as disc one of this set. For the record, the band re-recorded many of the early songs on this DL version of the album in 2013-2014. Bands tend to do this a lot more these days as they find that this or that conglomerate owns their masters and 30+ years later, they would like to see some of the income that the songs generate. A few years back, I noticed that ABC had re-recorded three of their biggest songs and released them in a DL EP, for example. Then the band can license their recording of their iconic number to use in an ad campaign, effectively cutting the conglomerate out of the loop, it’s no doubt hoped.

So re-recordings are out there for many reasons; most of which having everything to do with money.  The question remains, what are these re-recordings like? Well, tracks 1-3, 5, 7-9 here are re-recordings. The version of “Tar” is not called “main version” because it is the same original 7″ version that figured on disc one of the set. In what is the only error committed throughout the 7xCD set, track five was burned onto the CD-R twice in a row. That’s fairly innocuous in a world where errata on major label boxed sets can get tediously long.

Right off the top, let me state that the re-recordings of “Fade To Grey,” “Mind Of A Toy,” and “The Damned Don’t Cry” were particularly faithful. “Fade To Grey” in particular shows that the band took great pains to faithfully re-create their biggest single to the point that few who are’t Visage trainspotters like myself will ever notice any differences. To that end, the three songs mentioned are barely of interest to these ears. It’s where the songs diverge from the source material that provide the interest here, for me.

The take of “The Anvil” is slightly less slavish and that makes the difference to these ears. The sustain profile of the synth-bass line was slightly longer sounding to these ears, giving the track a more bracing feel. This was matched by the vocal performance by Steve Strange that was less effete than the original take. The instrumental chorus seemed to have a more tightly syncopated, Moroder bass line in concert with the taut rhythm guitar. It all ends up sounding just that much tougher than the original production of this track, meaning that for me, this version has now just edged out the original 1982 master as my preference.

“Visage” is my favorite track from the debut album. The version here maintained the album version intro with the four-count beat leading the piano. The famously galloping sequencers that were the biggest pull for me in the original are’t quite there in this version. This does sound like a hot live take. It doesn’t have the unerring precision of the original, but it is a spirited performance, none the less. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was charmed by the exaggerated portamento Logan Sky used on the synth lead hook. While this version does not surpass the original, it remains worth listening to for its differences. This of this version as a Peel Session that never was and it’s a winner.

“If “Visage” was a less rigorous divergence from slavish reproduction, the “Night Train” showed the band at their least painstaking. In fact, the take of “Night Train” here was downright loose. It sounded like nothing more than a rehearsal that might have been casually recorded. The version here follows the LP mix, but not very closely. Steve sounds really deep of voice here for a start. It all sounds really live with little in the way of overdubs, and curiously diminished sax. The other horns that were here seemed synthetic.

The motorcycle samples used for “Pleasure Boys” called attention to their difference from the ones used on Visage’s first brush with samplers back in 1982. The rest of the track hewed closer tot he mark, with the biggest exception being Steve’s vocal. His ad libs [“This is a funhouse/Some say a mad house”] differed here with some phrases missing completely. The overall vibe was still Visage at their most aggressive. This was another case of where the differences of the re-recording provided all of the thrills for an old Visage hack like myself.

The rest of the material following that song [tracks 10-16] were all familiar late period Visage versions either released on albums or remixed on disc one. The big perk of the download version of the album, was that it sported a unique bonus track, only available as art of the DL version of the album. “Tightrope” was [almost] an instrumental that could have been on either of the late period Visage albums, if they had cared to traffic in them to the extent that the first album did [3/10 tracks instrumental]. Here, the methodically paced number lumbered like a behemoth until the guitars of Robin Simon conspired to take the number aloft, with Logan Sky doubling with his synths. Simon really hit the mark on his solo, which was so tasty, it sounded like Paul Reynolds channeling Robin Simon. Then, at the middle eight that followed, Steve Strange made an appearance for a spoken recitation that comes and goes before you realize what had just happened.

The big pull here was probably “Tightrope,” which felt like a strong B-side that could have been issued on any of the singles that the third phase of the band had issued. The re-recorded versions could be interesting, or appalling, depending on the listener’s attitude. This listener found the looser, more casual re-records fairly interesting to a Visage trainspotter like myself. That represented about a third of the program. One of the re-records is now my go-to version of “The Anvil.” That meant that 2/3 of this album was of academic interest only. My recommendation? at the very least download “Tightrope” if purchasing as downloads, and sample the re-recordings that you find interesting.

Next: …The acme of “The Wild Life.” 

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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3 Responses to Visage’s “The Wild Life” Collection – Deluxe, Delightful…And Definitive [disc 2]

  1. Gavin says:

    This is the disc I am really interested in-the snippets I have heard of the re-recordings on Soundcloud are wonderful to my ears.I love the final phase of the band so much,it will no doubt be very satisfying to hear their versions of those beloved songs.


  2. Echorich says:

    I just adore Tightrope…it manages to straddle both the first and last iterations of Visage and at the same time reminds me of Ken Lockie’s Cowboys International.
    Fade To Grey’s re-recording has a density that I really enjoy. Mind Of A Toy is more melodic which has the effect of giving it a bit of an Ultravox sheen.
    The Anvil has a wonderful cabaret feel to it and sounds super 80s. Robin Simon’s guitar sounds as if it want to just burst out and take over the song, but something is holding it back.
    If there was ever a Visage “jam session,” then the re-recorded Night Train would fit the bill. It’s not just loose, it’s downright giddy – makes me think there’s an element of self deprecation at work here.
    Pleasure Boys has even more of a Japan meets Prince feel on the re-recording than it did in 1982. Yes, I am sure that last sentence will illicit some comment, but just as Gary Numan found influence from Japan by this point, I feel it was true of Visage.
    Finally, Damned Don’t Cry is still a tower of a song. I can understand why the re-recorded version is so faithful to the original. It’s a matter of not taking liberties with a classic.


  3. Same comment.*

    [high fives Echorich]


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