[…continued from last post]
One last look at the sonics of this mastering before we get to the content. As we can see from the waveforms of the intro to the song “Visage” below, the bass frequencies surrounding the kick drum were increased slightly to just under -6 db peak [a healthy place to be] while the rest of the melodic information has been slightly decreased in volume. On the 1983 disc, the kick drum did sound dull, flat, and lifeless. This was a good sound for what was definitely dance rock while avoiding all taint of brickwall mastering.
The first of the bonus tracks was something that I had not ever had on vinyl, as most of my Visage collection was on 12″ single. The non-LP B-side to “Mind Of A Toy” was the [superior] short mix of “We Move.” Anyone who has sat through the dance mix of this song [which was released all over the place, many times] would be forgiven for saying that they never had to hear this inferior cop of Bowie’s “Fame” ever again, but when hearing the succinct 4:00 mix the repetitive sins of the 6:29 version were almost forgiven. This was the CD debut for this version of the track. What took so long? The “Mind Of A Toy” dance mix was a slight extension of the album track with new extended intros/outros that were no longer parts of segues as the album was segued together for dancefloor vibe.
Then the rest of the famous North American dance mix EP that was released after the album in Canada and the US to goose sales and build hype in 1981, was all included here as well. This included the magnificent dance mix of “Fade To Grey” that was the first 12″ remix I ever heard/bought as I immediately bought this EP when I saw it in the stores. As well as the too long by half “We Move” dance mix and the strangely prescient “Frequency 7” dance mix. The latter was a relentless slab of proto techno that walked a razor’s edge at 5:03. I found this track annoying in 1981 but I can concede that that track probably was an underground touchstone for the Detroit musicians that begat similar sounds that would not fully mature until later in the decade.
Then one of the best remixes of the period was thankfully here. It took me until the early 90s to finally buy a copy of the “Visage” single on 12″ via mail order, but wow, was it worth the wait! This was my favorite Visage song from the debut album and the dance mix was restructured to have a radically different intro; eschewing the buildup from kick drum and piano chords to start instead with the phased sequencers at full gallop that built up into multipart harmonies of these sequencers that completely rocked my world.
The with a beat the melodies came right to the front and the song went on its gleeful way but the pièce de résistance was at the 3:00 to 4:27 there the song dropped out the give the multi-part bass/percussion sequencers [and Barry Adamson’s eloquent bass guitar] the room to really go places that, quite frankly, they could have taken another 0:30 to resolve by my reckoning. When the song circled back to the main melody after almost 90 seconds of buildup, it was something truly epic.
Finally, the non-LP B-side to this single was on CD for the second time; albeit the first intentional time. When I first heard “The Second Steps,” I was initially expecting something that played off of the intensely melodramatically music themes of the instrumental on the album called ‘The Steps,” but that could not have been further from the truth of it. Instead, “The Second Steps” was almost an excursion into Level42-esque jazzfunk [!] with synths decidedly minimized to give Barry Adamson’s bass guitar more room to maneuver in the very funky mix. Making this track a unique outlier to places that Visage would not touch upon until their third album, released three years later.
Cover variations from L-R: 1980 US “Visage” LP – 1980, 1983 Euro CD [bigger logo], and 2018 US DLX RM [old logo, blue-green vignette on border] [click for large]
The artwork on this edition had the logo size once again being to the original proportions of the 1980 cover. The 1983 CD I have had the logo expanded by at least 20-25% in size. At first the design decision of Rubellan Remasters to alter the familiar blue border to be a blue-gfren vignette from lower left to upper right corners of the covers bothered me but now that I have lived with this CD for almost a year, I can see the idea there. If you have multiple copies of this laying around you personal Record Cell, this was indeed a subtle way to differentiate the various versions out there in the wilds. The new rear case design also has the same color treatment.
The label art to the disc itself carried that swarthy Valentino image of Steve Strange from the cover of the US Dance Mix EP where he finally was transitioning out of the heavier makeup of the Blitz era into something a little different. One final attention to detail that I appreciated here was that Rubellan also included the alternative US cover design from the 1981 reissue of the “Visage” album on the back cover of the booklet. This allowed people to give the CD the second cover by flipping the booklet insert in the cover.
I never bought these since I already had the album and wasn’t a “collector” yet. But we eventually learned!
The second edition of the “Visage” album has sold out from Rubellan Remasters, but Scott Davies, the man behind the label, has told us that the next pressing of 300 is on its way and should be making its way into the hands of a waiting world. With a proven desire for Visage fans to get their hands on a copy of this best ever edition of the album, hit that button below and get ready to buy while supplies last.
Next: …Back To [Night Club] School