In 2009, the Chrysalis Ultravox albums got what were called “Definitive Edition” DLX RMs as 2xCD packages with a few previously unreleased early mixes tossed into the blend of B-sides, remixes, and live tracks that comprised the series. They all came in “O-card” sleeves, and featured the unmolested album on disc one with all bonus material segregated to side two. I’m fine with that gambit as long as there was not material being held out of the package strictly to maintain the original album integrity on disc one. We’ll get to that later.
In the last five years, I re-bought “Vienna,” “Rage In Eden,” “Quartet” and “Monument” but was unable to source “Lament;” the last Ultravox album I would be buying again in a DLX RM. Buying “UVOX” was painful enough the first time! Fortunately, the band, for reasons unknown, re-issued just the “Lament” DLX RM package last year [as well as the “Return To Eden” 2xCD+DVD live album from 2010] in a much better designed package. One that adapted the original limited edition UK LP design with it’s gloss black on matte black design, courtesy of Peter Saville. The original in 1984 was Saville revisiting the thermographic printing from the dawn of his career that made the OMD debut single so brilliant.
#11 • Ultravox: Lament Definitive Edition UK 2xCD 
- White China
- One Small Day
- Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
- Man Of Two Worlds
- Heart Of The Country
- When The Time Comes
- A Friend I Call Desire
- One Small Day (Special Re-Mix)
- Lament (Extended Mix)
- One Small Day (Special Re-Mix Extra)
- Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (Special Re-Mix)
- White China (Special Mix)
- Heart Of The Country (Instrumental)
- One Small Day (Final Mix)
- A Friend I Call Desire (Work In Progress Mix)
- Lament (Work In Progress Mix)
We’ve covered the original “Lament” album before, so we’ll just get to the particulars of the bonus materials here. The first single from the album was the roaring rocker “One Small Day,” which was released in two different 12″ singles in the post-ZTT environment of the time where such things just happened. The first mix [Special Re-Mix] was an extended version with a longer intro and some nice dub influenced drop outs in the long coda. Pretty good for an Ultravox remix as they did them themselves and it was a gentler time of remixing. The non-LP B-side, “Easterly” was a vaguely oriental instrumental that had Midge Ure’s fingerprints all over it. Not inspiring stuff, and it really was of a piece with the track “Textures;” an earlier B-side from his single with Mick Karn. A lurching percussive track with blatant Yamaha DX7 all over it.
The extended version of the “Lament” single was the most straightforward way possible of doubling the length of the 4:00 somber ballad to twice its length. Just more breathing room for the song with instrumental vamping inserted [tastefully] at every juncture. The more languid pace given to the song actually increased its gravitas enough to make it my preferred version. Your mileage may vary.
Back in 1985, when I got the 1st UK CD of “Lament” I was surprised by a version of “One Small Day [Special Re-Mix Extra] included on the disc. What I didn’t know for decades was that there was a second, numbered 12” of “One Small Day” at the time which sported this particular mix. I still don’t have a copy today, but would buy it if I had the chance. The actual mix is the original given a thunderous remix with what sounded like samples of the original played on a sampler along with a dubbed out backing track. Almost no lyrics appeared here; just sampler stuttered vocal snatches played out over the big, stomping rock sound. The mix was pretty radical for Ultravox and even more interesting [as sound at least] to the first re-mix. This was all about successfully incorporating dub technique to a rock sound.
The 10:00 extended version of “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” always felt like the sound of a song being stretched to its limit to my ears. The mix had an extended intro that chugged along for four or five minutes before the song proper appeared with the vocal performance in the mix. Punctuated by dropouts to air it out more with more timid dub effects. I still preferred the US mix by Thompson + Barbiero that is just getting a CD release on the new “Ultravox: Extended” compilation.
The B-side to “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” was a rarity among Ultravox B-sides at this point in their history since it had vocals! They were productive enough to have the treadmill running at top speed for the album a year they delivered so B-sides after “Rage In Eden” were instros. “Building” was a doom-laden piano ballad with no other instrumentation. It was a jazzier cousin to “Your Name [Has Slipped My Mind Again]” and it was interesting to hear just Ure and Currie having a go at it. Cann delivered a portentous and minimal beat halfway through the song. A very interesting number and I would have liked to have heard some Ure solo material in this vein.
The “White China [Special Mix]” was another original CD bonus track with a fantastic remix of the best song on “Lament” and let me say a real selling point to the CD version of the album for decades. The song was obviously earmarked as a potential single but for some stupid reason, it didn’t happen. Thankfully, the band were always generous with the mix; getting it out there from day one for the fans. The mix ramps us the heavy-handed dynamism [nothing wrong with that…] of the LP track most admirably. Some of the breaks here were completely berserk! It was invigorating hearing the band investigate some of their new digital tech in the most tasteless way possible. I also liked the new EQ on Ure’s vocals in the mix which isolated them them in the mix so that they popped out more.
“Heart Of The Country [Instrumental]” was the tepid B-side to the “Lament” single but an opportunity was missed here since the German-only 11:00 [!] “Heart Of The Country [Special Remix]” version is ultimately missing from this “Definitive Edition.” There’s small solace that it is on the aforementioned “Ultravox Extended” collection, but a small part of me grieves for its omission here. Even though I’m no fan of the mix in particular. I am a Monk, after all, and interested in canonical wholeness.
Let’s feel better with the “One Small Day [Final Mix]” playing out at full volume to be the best mix of the song ever. This originally appeared on the bonus remix album with the first pressing of the 1984 “Collection” best of LP. The synth quotient of the mix was goosed for this remix and the arrangement was given a real makeover. The subtle intro with just bass and Ure’s vocal at low levels had a dignified power that made the introduction of the booming drums all the more dramatic. The middle eight dropped out the instruments to give the bass of Cross a chance to shine in the mix. Twice! The dubbing of Ure’s vocal of “how many times” was great stuff. I would have liked to see them pursue this sound instead of sacking Cann and going off the rails. I would have been fine with more of this from the band.
Finally, the previously unreleased material was tacked on to the end of disc two. The work in progress mix of “A Friend I Call Desire” had a similar intro with the lowing synth isolated before the motorik drum beats started. I like the increased emphasis on bass here. There were no vocals in the mix, making this effectively an instrumental version. The drum breaks and middle eight were given emphasis without the vocals taking their usual precedence. When Currie’s distinctive wailing ARP appeared after the middle eight it was shocking, since the textural synths, bass, and drums were doing all of the heavy lifting here. This sounded way better without vocals, and I liked the bass/drum cold ending. This now means that one can compile an alternative version of the almost full album save for “When The Time Comes.”
The work in progress mix of the title track was more subtle in its allure. The meter of the synth vibes used to offset the beat had changed here to give it a little more of the old JAPAN rhythmic push/pull. You would have to put these stacked in a DAW to pick out the very subtle differences to the extant “Lament” in its instrumental form. Only the different breakdown in the coda was immediately noticeable.
This was a good package. Save for the lack of the German and US remixes, it is [UK] canonical. The printing and design was a real treat here for the CD format. This was by far the best looking “Lament” CD ever, and it’s worth buying just for that if you’re a graphic designer that collects Ultravox. That’s an important consideration, because the two tracks exclusive to this edition were modest pleasures at most. If you have “Rare v. 2,” “Extended Ultravox,” and the original CD you could take a pass here. Thematically, it’s good to have this release as a capstone on the run of Ultravox MK II. Had it all ended here in 1984, it would have been for the best.
CONCLUSION: enjoy…about as much as you did in 1984