[continued from last post]
The second supplemental disc managed to round up almost every affiliated rarity that surrounded the album. There were a few items missing, which we’ll duly note. The 7″ version of “Call Of The Wild” was missing, and while the “No Regrets” single discussed in the next paragraph was here, “After A Fashion,” his team up with JAPAN’s Mick Karn wasn’t. It would have been nice to get those 12″ single tracks on an album like this. Since this was a “definitive edition” of course they had to add some previously unreleased bait for the fans to buy again. While “The Gift” was an album of the ’85-’86 period, the bonus tracks began with something that went all the way back to 1982, and was the first solo Midge Ure release, and we’re so glad that they did.
“No Regrets” was a UK single that when released in the summer of 1982, went top 10 in the UK. The Tom Rush heartbreak ballad had been a single for the writer in 1967, so it had knocked around a bit in the 15 years before Ure covered it. It looks like dozens of artists took a crack at this one. It was last heard in the UK charts as the late-in-the-game hit single by the reformed 1970s Walker Brothers in 1975. Ure was definitely a Scott Walker fan as he’s admitted that “Vienna” was influenced by “The Electrician” and on this song, he stuck fairly close to the arrangement that The Walkers made a hit with; even closely following the iconic guitar solo.
Ure, chopped off an extra verse and ramped up the tech and buffed the final product to a fortissimo 4:00 length. This single was killer great stuff that I first heard when MTV would occasionally play the video in the early 80s, in defiance of the fact that the song had never been released here until 1993 on a Ultravox/Midge Ure “best of” compilation. I finally got the song in the Record Cell when it showed up as a B-side on the “Wastelands” 12″ single. It took me long years to finally get the 7″ of this and the 12″ [pictured here – I still don’t have one] had a different sleeve but was musically identical to the 7″ version. The instro B-side was notable for naming Ure’s music publishing company and little else.
Next, the full contents the “If I Was” 12″ single appeared. The extended A-side ramped up the instrumental quotient of the song with standard buildups favored at the time. It’s nothing that made the song any better or worse. The version of “The Man Who Sold The World” was another of Ure’s 1982 side trips brought back into the fold. He recorded it for the 1982 soundtrack album of the movie, “Party, Party,” a rather fun group of mostly covers by UK pop stars of the time. I had to have this in 82 for his version of Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World.” I had not heard the original at that time, but it was Bowie with Ure covering it! It had to be amazing.
Well, the song has never done anything for me to this day. Even the Bowie original, which I heard by the 90s. The version on the B-side of the “If I Was” 12″ is a 5:30 version and the version on “Party Party” is a 5:50 take. I have heard that it’s a newer recording in 1985 but I’ve not bothered to do the forensic listening and analysis to determine this or not. It’s still a dreary, turgid song; now with added synthesizers and drum machines. The real prize of this single was the instrumental non-LP B-side, “Piano.” It showed that Ure had been listening to Philip Glass back then and was taking notes! It’s all piano and [sampled] piccolo ostinatos and builds in an infinite loop of swirling tension. It’s an exciting 2:30 at just the right length.
One of the defining features of the 12″ single of “That Certain Smile” was that there was no extended 12″ remix; an almost unthinkable notion in 1985! That did not mean that they didn’t try. There is a 6:30 extended mix on this CD; the only place where it can be heard. For a reason! It sounds like a rough mix that might have been abandoned since anyone could see that it was not meant to be. The EQ darts all over the place here and what little integrity the song had is eviscerated in the attempt. I did like the extended coda on the fadeout though! They had something going there.
The other 12″ B-sides featured here. The instrumental version of “The Gift” was less anguished without Ure’s vocal on top. As usual, the winner here was still the B-side from the original 12″ single. The live version of “Fade To Grey” from Ure’s rehearsals for his big solo tour of late ’85 featured Mick Ronson on the left channel playing guitar. Slide, by the sound of it. Ure took the leads on the right channel. The whole thing had a wild west, Morricone tinge to it and we had always waited to hear this song sung by Ure, so it managed to fulfill the dream well enough.
The first real winner on 12″ mixes from Ure was the “Wastelands” extended version. It managed to build up the levels of the song’s melodrama exceptionally well. The extended intro built, and built, until it was finally undercut by a single piano note just prior to Ure’s joining in on the song. While the album mix was a highlight, the 12″ version stood as definitive to these ears. Mark Brzezicki, of Big Country played the drums on this track and cemented his place in the future Ultravox lineup, though no-one here knew that it would happen! The other tracks from this 12″ were the live @ Wembley Stadium versions of “The Chieftain/The Dancer.” Live band drummer Kenny Hyslop [ex-Slik] did his best but the monster drum machines of “The Chieftain” were not to be topped, and Kevin Powell tried to walk in Mark King’s footsteps in an admirable attempt. The live version wisely segued after 2:30 into the first ever live Visage track; “The Dancer.” This lively track from the Visage debut came across exceptionally well. Almost making us wonder what a full Visage tour by Ure and his band might have been like.
The créme de la créme of Midge Ure’s solo career was definitely the 12″ version, remixed by Rik Walton, of “Call Of The Wild.” This was probably a full Messenger’s track that never got released since Colin King was also credited on the writing of it with Daniel Mitchell and Ure. The 12″ mix was radically re-structured with the thunderdrums dropping the listener right into the middle of a team of horses running at full gallop. The bass of Kevin Powell managed to keep up with the rapidly firing drum machines here rather well. The metallic squeals of Ure’s guitar added frissons of howling rock tension to the song. Whenever I hear this it’s pulse-racing time. Ure never sounded better than he did here, and the 8:00 12″ mix always ends way faster than I would have preferred it to! It’s too bad that Razormaid didn’t make a killer 10:00 version of this one.
Next: …Live At Wembley