While I’ll bet the first Visage CD has been continuously in print in one form or another, since 1982, the second album was always a title I associate with scarcity. While I found out by the mid-late 80s that there had been a German CD of it [see left], I could never manage to find a copy for sale. Not even with all of the catalogs and fine print Goldmine ads in the world at my disposal. It remained until the 1997 One Way Records US edition of “The Anvil,” that I could finally hear this dazzling album on the preferred format. Even then, I can’t say I ever saw a copy in a store save for the one I bought from Time Traveler that year. Suffice to say, given the difficulty in getting this album on CD format, I’ve never taken the title for granted on the silver disc. Every listen I’ve had to it in the ensuing years has served to remind me of just how hard-fought it was to obtain a copy.
Visage: The Anvil DLX RM – US – CD 
- The Damned Don’t Cry
- Anvil (Night Club School)
- Move Up
- Night Train
- The Horseman
- Look What They’ve Done
- Again We Love
- Wild Life
- I’m Still Searching
- We Move (USA Single Remix)
- The Damned Don’t Cry (Dance Mix)
- Night Train (Dance Mix)
- The Anvil (Dance Mix)
- Pleasure Boys (Dance Mix)
It took a dozen years from the point where I had a CD player until I first got the US edition of “The Anvil.” It had bonus tracks, but as usual, One Way picked from cuts that US Polydor had released over here, so the same two overexposed dance mixes of “We Move” and “Frequency 7” from the earlier album period, were trotted out once again. Now, only 22 years following that release [almost twice as long as the first wait], Rubellan Remasters have finally given us the copy of “The Anvil” that we have deserved from the very first. I’ll say again that my love for this album is well documented. So let’s move up [you saw that coming, right?] from the music on the album to the finer points of this DLX RM.
I’ll wager that the One Way CD I have was definitely a new mastering from the 1983 version [which I’ve never heard] but for its time, it’s not bad at all. But the mastering here pulled out more detail with punchier levels. And best of all, broadband NR has not decimated the recording. Tape hiss is still at low levels so that deadened, hermetic sound that Jon Astley favors is nowhere to be found here. Thank goodness! When I hear an analog recording remastered for digital, I consider tape hiss part of the “grain” of the sonic image. It can be removed, but at what I perceive as being at great cost.
The clarity of the mastering is such that even the gorgeous, vinyl challenging vibe of the closing ambient piece, “Whispers,” the voices were far more clear an distinct as I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing them. As on the “Visage” remaster, the overall frequencies were given thoughtful boosts to enhance their power without a heavy hand destroying things. It’s just how Scott Davies, the man behind Rubellan Remasters rolls.
It’s when we turn our attention to the bonus tracks that the wild promise of this period of Visage’s career really gets the chance to shine on this disc. The glorious 12″ sides of “The Damned Don’t Cry” were here to finally live together on the silver disc. The 12″ remix of “The Damned Don’t Cry” was only a modest extended version, featuring an alternate sequenced pattern on the intro as well as an extended middle eight where the song flipped into minor key mode for an extended bass solo before returning back to the original heartbreakingly beautiful melody I can never tire of. And finally, the instrumental non-LP B-side of “Motivation” finally made its debut on CD, in spite of the best of intentions 23 years ago. The song was a bit thin on the ground. Visage instrumental B-sides were sketches, usually, and this one was no different. The main pull here was the juxtaposition between a squelchy synth bass and the light touches of string patches to offset that and the synthetic percussion.
Next: …Train [Not] In Vain
A fantastic release; I still have my German CD although it was very tough paying $36 for it back in Aug of 1984 on a Toronto trip and then not being able to listen to it until Xmas of that year after unwrapping a Discman. If I recall I made $4.25/hour back then at my summer job; I also bought the first Visage CD and Ultravox’s Monument so it was a very expensive day. Your post motivated me to pull out both the CD, my Discman revel at the glorious noise from the headphones. I also 2 (?) of the One-Way re-releases but I wasn’t blown away when I first listened to it and compared it to the Polydor release.
Anyway, a great bunch of posts; I’ll be queuing up Beat Boy, Strange Cruise and the rest of the substandard stuff all the way until Visage MKII where it gets good again.
I would venture that Damned Don’t Cry is the height of Visage Mk.1’s sonic creativity and the Dance Mix took it, subtly, to perfection. It is up there with any and all of Rage In Eden for me – about as high a level you can get, in my estimation.
I have to “echo” Echorich’s assessment of DDC, though The Anvil is full of other pleasures. I remember my first impressions of it quite clearly thanks to the striking cover of the vinyl release: bondage gear had been used during the punk era but this was where I suspected Strange was leading us to when I got the original album — reclaiming kink gear for fashion. At the time I was a young pup and had only just started sussing out the extent of the the dark underbelly of sexuality, so the cover by Helmut Newton immediately signalled a darker, more serious direction.
I think I was expecting something much more along the lines of Soft Cell’s Non Stop Erotic Cabaret, but what I got was a really solid second Visage album. My appreciation for it has grown over the decades, despite the lack of John McGeoch.
chasinvictoria – It really is a similar mood piece to the sister Ultravox album, “Rage In Eden.” For me “The Dmaned Don’t Cry” is the quintessential New Romantic aural/visual time capsule. The video by Ure/Cross is as good as the song. The long train shot is heartbreakingly beautiful. The song matches it for a blend of ennui and hope that’s rare.