REVO Remastering: Chris Cross | Maxwell Langdown | Midge Ure – The Bloodied Sword [REVO 091]

REVO | US | CD-R | 2019 | REVO 091

Chris Cross | Maxwell Langdown | Midge Ure: The Bloodied Sword US CD-R [2019]

  1. The Sword’s Theme
  2. Sword Speaks
  3. Gun
  4. Propaganda Machine
  5. Seer
  6. The Haunting
  7. Warnings
  8. Confrontation
  9. Mercy
  10. Alliance
  11. Oceania’s Theme
  12. One With Man
  13. Damnation
  14. Threats
  15. Propaganda
  16. The Jester’s Theme
  17. The Pageant
  18. Soliloquy
  19. The Sword’s Theme [part II]
  20. Phil Lynott: Yellow Pearl [first version]
  21. Snips: Nine O’Clock
  22. Phil Lynott: Yellow Pearl [7″ remix]
  23. Midge Ure + Mick Karn: After A fashion [12″ remix]
  24. Phil Lynott: Yellow Pearl [12″ remix]
  25. Messengers: I Turn Into You
  26. Messengers: The Semi-Professionals

This was a weird left-field project that manifested shortly after Ultravox’s “Quartet” came to market in late 1982. I guess Chrysalis UK didn’t want to muddy the waters of their new cash cow, so this project was released in the winter doldrums of 1983. I recall seeing it in the display ads for record dealers in a new issue of Trouser Press. Woah! Midge Ure had a solo album called “The Bloodied Sword??!!” I was on the phone in a hot second to Record City on Colonial Drive to ask if they had any copies. They did, and my friend Tom and I were over there in a flash to buy the fresh imports.  It had a nice cover. Very minimal, but elegant. The calligraphic drawings were very, very good. Though this had a Saville feel of Classicism to it, this cover was by John Pasche; the designer of possibly the most famous band logo in the world for those Rolling Stones.

It looked like Ure was working with Chris Cross from Ultravox, but the wildcard was Maxwell Langdown. Who was that guy? We dropped the needle in anticipation only to find a very different beast indeed from not only Ultravox, but also Visage, and hell, while you’re at it, even throw in Slik [Ure’s teenaged pop band]! The LP opened with “Sword’s Theme” with portentous synths crafting a very cinematic mood that rolled in off the moors like a heavy fog. There were no drums, or any sort of rock instrumentation, for that matter. Ure and Cross were responsible for the impressionistic music here. The spotlight was on the mysterious Maxwell Langdown; who had crafted an epic symbolist poem and gave it every inch of theatrics to put it across. He was not only the narrator, but he also acted the various characters whose dialog advanced the plot and themes.

And the theme seemed to be an audacious piece of poetry addressing what seems to be the crucial conflicts of civilization [how coercion and the threat of violence, together with politics, and the media shape the continued misery of human society] in a most theatrical manner. The music consisted of drones, wooshes, and sequencers on a variety of pleasing analog synths. Only on the “dance single” that opened side two [naturally!], called “One With Man” was there a distinct rhythm via drum programming. It stuck out here like a sore thumb. Meanwhile, Langdown emoted through a variety of vocal effects to embody the various participants.

One cannot say he was unwilling to tackle the big questions here, but at least he did so with the blackest of humor. The narrative consisted of the embodiments of sword, gun, and propaganda machine each touting their ironic “virtues” to a horrified narrator, who is given cryptic advice by a mystical seer and who is ultimately mocked by a passing clown. The end result didn’t posit any easy answers, but it was absolutely the most entertaining and theatrical posing of these existential questions I can remember hearing.

When this album appeared in early 1983, it had spent over five years gestating as the project had been begun with Midge Ure alone recording poet Maxwell Langdown in three different studios as early as 1979; prior to his involvement with Ultravox. It was only after joining Ultravox that he found a co-writer for the music that informed this album in bass player Chris Cross.

While Midge Ure had quite a frantically busy solo career apart from Ultravox and Visage, with productions of many albums and singles for other acts, this turned out to be the only project that Chris Cross made musically apart from Ultravox, save for helpoing out Ure on the Levi Jeans “Rivets” ad soundtrack in the UK. The only other musician involved was drummer Kenny Hyslop from Midge Ure’s days in Slik as well as its New Wave offshoot, PVC2. Of Maxwell Langdown, little is known. I swear I saw something on him decades ago on the web that had cast him as possibly the manager of Slik, but I can’t confirm that now.

I made a single copy of this disc for a friend’s birthday this spring as I had a single archival, printable CD left to my name. I still had my old iMac, which I had digitized and edited the files on. De-noising was a quick process. I’m really satisfied with De-Click software. It’s almost miraculous to my ears, so the re-mastering took only a very short time. More time-consuming was the booklet design, which had me re-typing the entire libretto and typesetting it on the pages of the booklet. It was an absolutely necessary act for an album like this one. It’s practically a Prog Opus! In fact, the project that this reminded me of more than anything else, was Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds” shorn of bombast, singing, and Richard Burton.

I wanted to put the “Set Movements” Ultravox cassette on as bonus material, since it was spoken word, but I could not find my tape in time [as this was a birthday present] so I snapped my fingers and realized that a selection of other Midge Ure productions, some notable, others obscure, would make this as thematically coherent a package as possible in my limited timeframe. Of course, three mixes of “Yellow Pearl,” the brilliant Phil Lynott single had to go on! The two 7” mixes I had on CD, but the 12” was vinyl only. All of them were necessary, but I still need the hit version of 2:53 that was the soundtrack for the cool Ure/Cross directed music video. I think that one’s on the “Phil Lynott Album” CD, but I’m not certain. Otherwise, it’s the injection molded 7” from 1982 that I still need.

I got the Snips album a year or so back, and was surprised to see that Midge Ure had produced the single form it, “Nine O’Clock.” It’s an energetic piece of pop rock from 1980 that’s not purely synth-rock like so much from this period, but it was plenty of charm, being closer to the Power Pop end of the spectrum. I had not heard the 12” single of Ure/Karn’s “After A Fashion” since I had bought it in 1983! When I digitized the track I had much more respect for it than I remember having at the time I bought it.

Then the one Messengers single I have managed to buy was a fantastic addition. “I Turn Into You” was more florid than Ure was at the time of its issue in 1983, but perhaps it indicated the direction that he would go in his solo career as he had been involved with Colin King and Daniel Mitchel from 1980’s album of Modern Man, the Scot band that was among Ure’s busy “New Wave Producer” period following the crash and burn of Rich Kids. The duo emerged from the wreckage of Modern Man as Messengers and they supported Ultravox on their “Quartet” tour as opening act and extra hands on synths. Ure produced their 3-4 singles on his briefly active boutique label, Musicfest. This one was grandiose and ornate, but was fully committed to such a rococo notion. Liberace would have approved. Later on, Ure recorded “The Gift” with Mitchell + King co-writing it all with him. What happened in the two years between this single and that album I can’t say, but though this single flirted with kitsch, it did so more successfully than “If I Was” did. Curating the bonus tracks for this CD actually lit a fire under me that may take another dozen years to acquire the good for, but I happen to think that a boxed set of Midge Ure loose productions might be a fascinating thing to hear in a single, coherent block of sound. Watch this space.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, Record Review, Remastering, Scots Rock, Your Prog Roots Are Showing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to REVO Remastering: Chris Cross | Maxwell Langdown | Midge Ure – The Bloodied Sword [REVO 091]

  1. Vlad says:

    I feel this bit of writing was the most this semi-legendary project garnered over the years! Even Chris Cross couldn’t say anything of note about it (judging by Extreme Voice bits and pieces).

    Not being a native English speaker I’m afraid I have a hard time getting into the concept here. I’d much prefer this in instrumental form as the music is fantastic, just right up my valley. Wish whoever holds the right to it would re-release it both in original form and without the vocals. I myself once got so frustrated that I made a cut of two Sword’s themes – quite successfully, I feel. But there so much synth goodness there, hidden behind the voice…

    Speaking of Cross, he and Midge also did music for the pilot version of ‘Max Headroom” – but that’s not even released anywhere. That’d be all, if we discount his co-writing work with Hello and Brian Kennedy.

    As for Midge productions, that would’ve been a great CD – he really came into his own as aproducer by 1981 and created lots of goodness in the next few years. Pity it’s scattered over lots of labels and publishers and a compilation akin to “Produced by Trevor Horn” won’t be forthcoming anytime soon…

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Vlad – I have the Max Headroom original movie on ßeta videocassette!

      Like

    • negative1ne says:

      i agree with the sentiment. i was intrigued by what this project would be.
      but ultimately its a huge letdown, and hardly warrants a listen these days.

      mr monk,
      the licensing for midge ure side projects would make it unfeasible.
      but it is fun tracking them down.

      late
      r-1

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        negative1ne – Of course the licensing would be a terminal issue with the “Produced By Midge Ure” boxed set. That’s why it would be the perfect project to undertake as one of my projects. At least I could accomplish that and be fairly assured that all of my work would not be undercut by actual reissue projects by real labels shortly afterward. As we will see today.

        Like

  2. Gavin Brick says:

    I have never heard of this before-but the score to Max Headroom is a real favourite of mine!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin Brick – Really!!? I am gobsmacked [and for an American that’s pretty rare] that you of all people are 36 years late to this game!! Well, no one can know everything, it’s true. You might be of a mind with Vlad; preferring an instrumental version [that does not exist] to this strange program. It’s been decades since I saw the Max Headroom film so I can’t say how similar that music was to this. I need to play the videotape [and make a DVD of it].

      Like

  3. Andy B says:

    I bought The Bloodied Sword on its release and only managed to listen to it about three times. I found the music ok but couldn’t get my head round the very mannered spoken word. I thought the ‘One With Man’ section was about the most appealing. The album went the same way as most of my vinyl back in the 90s. If it was ever released on CD I might be tempted to give it another listen. I agree with Vlad that an instrumental version might be interesting.

    Like

  4. negative1ne says:

    mr monk,

    no doubt by now you’ve heard:
    ——————————————-
    SOUNDTRACK: 1978-2019 2CD+DVD

    All tracks are Midge Ure solo unless stated.

    CD ONE

    01 Call of The Wild (7” Version) [1986]
    02 Answers To Nothing (7” Version) [1988]
    03 Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (7” Version) [1984] – Ultravox
    04 The Gift [1985]
    05 Wastelands (7” Version) [1985]
    06 After A Fashion (7” Version) [1983] – Midge Ure & Mick Karn
    07 Remembrance Day [1988]
    08 No Regrets (7” Version) [1982]
    09 Marching Men (7” Version) [1978] – Rich Kids
    10 If I Was (7” Version) [1985]
    11 Fade To Grey (2017 Version) [Originally 1980] – Midge Ure’s Band Electronica
    12 Dear God (7” Version) [1988]
    13 The Man Who Sold The World [1982]
    14 That Certain Smile (7” Version) [1985]
    15 Sister And Brother (Alt. 7” Edit) [1988] – Midge Ure feat. Kate Bush
    16 All In One Day (7” Version) [1986] – Ultravox

    CD TWO

    01 Become [2014]
    02 Touching Hearts And Skies
    03 Glorious [2017] – Midge Ure & Rusty Egan
    04 Star Crossed [2014]
    05 You Move Me (Radio Edit) [2000]
    06 I Survived (Single Edit) [2014] previously unreleased version
    07 Personal Heaven [2001] – Midge Ure & Glenn Gregory
    08 Beneath A Spielberg Sky (7” Version) [2000]
    09 Breathe (7” Version) [1996]
    10 Nevermore [2008]
    11 Cold Cold Heart (7” Version) [1991]
    12 Let Me Go [2014]
    13 I See Hope (In The Morning Light) (7” Version) [1991]
    14 Let It Rise [2010] – Schiller feat. Midge Ure
    15 Dark Dark Night (2019 Remix) [2014] previously unreleased version. – Midge Ure feat. Moby
    16 Vienna (Orchestrated Version) [2017]

    DVD

    01 Marching Men [1978] – The Rich Kids
    02 No Regrets [1982]
    03 After A Fashion [1983] – Midge Ure & Mick Karn
    04 If I Was [1985]
    05 That Certain Smile [1985]
    06 Call of The Wild [1986]
    07 Answers To Nothing [1988]
    08 Dear God [1988]
    09 Cold Cold Heart [1991]
    10 I see Hope (In The Morning Light) [1991]
    11 Breathe [1996]
    12 You Move Me [2000]
    13 Beneath A Spielberg Sky [2000]
    14 Become [2014]
    15 Let It Rise (Live) [2010] – Schiller feat. Midge Ure
    16 Breathe (Orchestrated Version) [2017]

    Bonus Videos:

    Feature length Commentary on Promo videos by Midge Ure
    Yellow Pearl/Passing Strangers (Live) [2017] – Midge Ure’s Band Electronica
    Fade To Grey (Live) [2017] – Midge Ure’s Band Electronica
    Vienna (Orchestrated Version) [2017]
    Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (Orchestrated Version) [2017]
    Bonus Documentaries:

    A Portrait [‘The Gift’ EPK 1985]
    Answers: A Musical Journey [Longform Documentary 1990]
    Orchestrated [The Making of EPK] [2017]

    looking forward to getting this.

    still missing a few tracks, but there’s other good tracks on there.

    later
    -1

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – Nope. You broke the news to me. I will be interested in getting this for the DVD with “No Regrets” and “After A Fashion” clips in what I hope is decent quality. I have the PAL VHS of the 1993 “If I Was: The best of Midge Ure + Ultravox” [converted to NTSC but not digitized] and back then they could not source “No Regrets” or “After A Fashion.” There might be one or two things on disc two of interest. Maybe. Maybe not. But I’ll buy one any way. The price is right even if the cover is dull. If only they had included the “Yellow Pearl” video I’d be thrilled, but two out of three ain’t bad.

      Nice to see that they included the “Answers” documentary. For anyone who has not seen it, it’s a great career overview of the fairly stunning career of Midge Ure from ’76-’88. Possibly the most interesting career of anyone I can name as he began as a teen star and went all over the map musically. Accomplishing an incredible amount of achievements in that time. The commentary track on the DVD is another great touch. I wish more musical programs would do this! I have a Spandau Ballet DVD with the Kemp Brothers talking about it on top. Good stuff!

      Like

  5. I’m pretty sure I own or at least owned a copy of this album, likely given to me by our mutual pal Tom. I frankly don’t recall it at all, so clearly a revisit is warranted!

    Like

  6. Ade.W says:

    Hi Monk, a bit late to this thread I know but just to add a bit about “messengers” . I found a 12″ extended version of Frontiiers , produced by Midge, its ok but one of the tracks on the B side is a version of Bowie’s “Andy Warhol” hmmmm? Also digging around , I found a 7″ by a group called Cold Fish, again produced by Midge (he got about) “love me Today” not so great and ropey video but the picture sleeve draws the eye as its meant to.
    Oh, and my copy of the Sword thing never gets played.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Adw.W – Yeah, I had a tape of the Messengers records that Cerise Reed of Extreme Voice sent me in the 90s. I still only have the “I Turn Into You” 7″ – those records are hard to find over here! I still want to compile a “Produced By Midge Ure” set one day, so Cold Fish are on the list.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.