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