Visage Deluxe Week Commences With A Trio Of DLX RMs From Rubellan Remasters [pt. 4]

postpunkmonk theme week visage deluxe[…continued from last post]

visage night train 12" single coverThe other single from the album was also included in 12″ form. “Night Train” was the only real upbeat track on the matte black, Peter Saville/Helmut Newton sleeved album. The John Luongo 12″ remix had never made CD format yet, as near as I can tell. This was a brash, garish trip to Pleasurama to contrast with the dour and introverted feel of “The Anvil.” The dance mix emphasized the muscularity of the sound and contained Rusty Egan busting out a frenetic drum solo and the ending was an inhuman AMS sample of a stuttering kick drum beat doing a fine impersonation of a train’s chug.

Even better was the non-LP B-side to the single, “I’m Still Searching.” This was by far the most highly developed of Visage’s B-sides. Over a squelchy, proto-Cabaret Voltaire Beat of the kind that they would be exploring in two years, haunting synth chords and clear, trebly melodies soaring over it all as Steve Strange delivered a pretty full-bodied performance. This one really sounded like one from the album sessions that had been left on the cutting room floor. It’s fantastic to finally have this song as a bonus track on a disc of “The Anvil.”

visage - pleasure boys 12" single coverRubellan Remasters have also included the non-LP single that followed on the album with a new A-side and a remix from the album on the B-side. This was the first Visage recording made following the departure of Midge Ure, but Billy Currie was still int he mix, as was Dave Formula of Magazine. The gent who joined up with the collective at this time as bass player was Steve Barnacle, who would be [apart from Steve Strange] the only continuous member of Visage from 1982 to the band’s finish in 2015. “Pleasure Boys” in its 12″ dance mix was a percussive, aggressive workout featuring a motorcycle revving sample  that almost carried double duty as a lion’s roar as it was used percussively throughout the song.

The song still reflected “The Anvil’s” gambit of basing songs around sequencer pattern energy but remained tougher than we had previously heard from Visage. The decision was wisely made to include the dance mix here because, not only was the 7″ edit of “Pleasure Boys” readily available on the preferred format, but the song was always 6:55 long with a clear edit delineating the 7″ version. The halfway point for the song marked a second movement of breakdowns and rhythmic workouts to give the listener a savage pummeling.

John Luongo’s dance mix of “The Anvil” was almost as hard a vibe with the track still the densest and darkest sound Visage had recorded before the new single. As was typical of this period, it was built from a foundation of tough sequencers. As Billy Currie in Ultravox had hit upon this aggressive form of sequencing [so different to the sleeker Moroder sound that came prior] for “The Thin Wall,” it seemed like that sound informed most of “The Anvil” that followed. Never moreso than on the title track; an homage to the leather boys of New York City.

visage the anvil 2020 US Cd back insert

We finally have “The Anvil” we deserve

Finally, there was a previously 1981 unreleased mix of “We Move” that Scott Davies had unearthed on the Visage master tapes, and it did not fit on the first “Visage” disc” but could find a berth here. Fortunately, the grittier rock sound of “Move Up” was enough at home on “The Anvil” to make stylistic sense. The UK B-side had been considered as a US A-side release, and had gotten remixed. “Malpaso Man” from the debut album was to be the B-side here and was also the flip of the US “Fade To Grey” 7″ single. Presumably, the thought was that the more rock-based sound of the track would have found a way through America’s synthesizer firewall of the early 80s? The remix here was sporting a vastly different EQ to the familiar track. The bass and midrange frequencies sounded emphasized here. Most dramatically, the “sax riffs” [admittedly, they might be synths] on the original were squashed down to something now completely different sounding. They now ended up barely there at all.

While the “Visage”‘ CD sported typography that went back to the smaller proportions of the original cover, the latest CD opted to carry the typography at a larger proportion as seen below.

visage the anvil UK LP covervisage the anvil 1997 US CD covervisage - the anvil deluxe US cover

Cover variations from L-R: 1982 UK “The Anvil” LP – 1997 US “The Anvil” CD – 2020 US “The Anvil” DLX RM [logo and title larger] [click for large]

It’s hard to believe that we had to wait for a copy of “The Anvil” on CD that sounded as full bodied as this one, and with all of the single mixes that should have rightly been on this CD from the very beginning. Anyone with a love for this album who has not yet traded up to it is encouraged to do so in the strongest of terms. Rubellan Remasters have manufactured 1500 copies and at almost six weeks out, I think that over half of them are in the hands of new owners. If history is any indication, anyone who did not buy this now will see it going for prices much higher than the $13.99 it’s currently selling for in the Rubellan online store. Of course, distributors also have copies for sale, so you may see this elsewhere. In any case, don’t tarry!

communist purchase button

Next: …They Said It Couldn’t Be Done…And They Were Wrong

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Record Review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Visage Deluxe Week Commences With A Trio Of DLX RMs From Rubellan Remasters [pt. 4]

  1. Richard Anvil says:

    I agree that I’m Still Searching sounds like an outtake from The Anvil but the story behind it says otherwise. Amazingly even though the writing credit for the track is stated as being Ure, Egan, Currie, Formula, Strange this was only because of the contracting arrangement in the band as the song was written and recorded by only two of them; Rusty Egan and Steve Strange. It is a really great track and given how much the quality dropped when it came to Beat Boy this track proves that they could easily have created a much better 3rd album if they hadn’t decided to create a live sound and throw everything but the kitchen sink at it. So I’m Still Searching shows that Egan was totally capable of playing and programming synths as well as drum machines and Strange could write lyrics and vocal lines to create a classic Visage song.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Richard Anvil – So wow, that was just Steve and Rusty? Excellent work. I couldn’t tell there was no Formula/Currie involvement.

      Like

      • Richard Anvil says:

        It was a huge surprise to me as well. I only found this out after a friend of mine interviewed Rusty way back in 1996 and he shared that he and Steve did the b side by themselves as all the other members of the band were busy. Of course this means Rusty produced it as well even though production is credited to ‘Visage’.

        Like

        • Richard Anvil says:

          And I presume you all know that the guitar on Motivation is John McGeogh? He was only able to come back for this jammed b side.

          Like

  2. Ade.W says:

    Hmmm! not really much difference between this and the Cherry Pop 2008 reissue which I have. Is it worth buying again ? not sure , probably not.

    Like

    • Richard Anvil says:

      The cherry red 2008CD was a direct rip from the one-way Street CD and the b sides and 12” mixes were taken from vinyl. The Rubellan version is remastered from the original tapes so in the case of the bonus tracks this is the first time they have been digitally released from the masters. The quality of these tracks is IMHO absolutely stunning.

      Like

  3. Gavin says:

    I have the Cherry Pop version on CD,as well as the original LP with textured sleeve and all of the associated 12″ singles.It is my personal favourite Visage album.I would like the Rubellan discs,but postage costs make this prohibitive for me right now.
    I am so glad that they are available though and that Steve’s legacy is being treated with dignity.The ex-drummer is still spitting bile about it all(but still happy to flog his past around the club circuit) so it’s good to see some positive things happening.

    Like

  4. side__on says:

    I only bought all 3 for the bonus tracks anyway,worth the price alone,they were only a 12′ single’s band for me.(both albums are ok though)

    Like

  5. Echorich says:

    There is a pretty famous unofficial release on the club remix label Rated “X” Records of Pleasure Boys that mixes the track with Electro tracks like Al-Naafiysh by Hashim, Planet Rock by Soul Sonic Force and Rock The House by The B-Boys. It was a staple NYC clubs around 85/86.

    Like

  6. Richard Anvil says:

    I personally feel that Pleasure Boys was years ahead of its time musically. It pre-empted house music by 3/4 years (as far as I am aware it’s the only Visage song to have been sampled by other artists) so it was such a shame that it wasn’t a hit or otherwise they could have continued creating music like this rather than what became the Beat Boy album. I’d always hoped there were earlier versions of Only The Good Die Young and Beat Boy when Billy Currie and Dave Formula we’re still members which might have sounded more like Pleasure Boys but apparently they don’t exist. I also think it’s a shame they didn’t use John Luongo as the producer for Beat Boy as the production on that album is pretty poor. Steve Strange has stated that he felt the reason why Pleasure Boys wasn’t a hit was because the radio stations weren’t happy with its gay references. I think it’s rather obvious that it was nothing to do with that, as a kid buying it in 1982 it didn’t appear to have any gay references at all, the real reason was Steve’s appalling out of tune vocals!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Richard Anvil – Hah! I could use a laugh right about now. Covid-19 is looming large to possibly snuff out my UK trip in two weeks! I think you might have hit the nail on the head there re: Steve’s Vocal. No more Midge Ure guide vocals and Autotune was still decades away. But give me a real, flawed vocal any time. Art should not be perfect. The new, tough sound of the band, moving further on from the title track of “The Anvil,” was miles better on “Pleasure Boys,” than on similar efforts like “Casualty,” which was might be down to Andy Barratt from the sound of it. From this fan’s perspective there was nothing lacking in “Pleasure Boys.”

      Like

    • Vlad says:

      Simon Le Bon’s hardly-in-tune vocals didn’t hurt Duran Duran one bit! ;))) Simply the song was too hard-hitting and club-oriented for radio play (and you’re right, it was too ahead of its time), it was released too near to Christmas, when radio generally switched to softer songs, and also they were breaking up with their management, which made it hard to promote the single (its video was only shown once, I believe). Simple mechanics of the show business – though with their name you’d expect the single to at least get into Top 40.

      And I agree, it would’ve been wonderful for them to continue in this vein. They were unsuited for rawrk muzak and “Beat boy” is a disgrace hardly worth time and effort. Their forte were uptempo dance stuff and electronic atmospherics, and they clearly had it in themselves to make at least one synth-based album. Midge was right when he complained as he exited that “others” (Steve and Rusty) were becoming too trendy when they had already had an established style. They had at least a couple of years to do their thing but blew their chance completely.

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Vlad – Touché re: LeBon!! So the great Tim Pope video was barely shown? A pity. It was shown dozens of times in my home. I don’t know about VIsage changing their style being a problem. All the other bands from the era did it [always to their detriment, though]. It’s just that Duran Duran didn’t make a Rod Stewart album. That said, I still like more than half of “Beat Boy.” It’s preferable to the complete disaster that Ultravox made. Some things just are not pretty in pink.

        Like

        • Vlad says:

          I myself was surprised to learn that about the video. And remember one Steve’s interview on YouTube, where he was more upset about it being barely shown and known than about the single’s failure! :) Unexpected video, to say the least, though it shows most clearly that Steve’s not really an actor or very comfortable doing anything much more than posing in front of a camera (so unlike “Visage”, say, where he did almost exclusively it). And what a contrast with Boy George, who took to video most naturally! (not that it makes his music at all attractive, it’s just that’s his natural showmanship)

          As for “U-vox”, I find myself strangely drawn to it. Well, at least 2/3 of it is quite nice to my ears. Perhaps it’s that thing about getting the LP in real time vs hearing it retrospectively, in no particular order (I seem to remember I heard it before “Rage in Eden”!). Kinda softens the impression, makes it more tolerable (though it may be just me). Yes, not really Ultravox – but divorced from it it’s rather nice in an inobtrusive, “well-off and kinda bored people doing their thing without particular sense of direction” thing.

          As for “Beat boy”, I only had time for the first and last tracks. Tried about ten times with the rest – but to no avail. Perhaps we’re just not made for each other :)

          Like

          • postpunkmonk says:

            Vlad – I thought that each was equally awful for ages, but hearing 5 decent tracks from it [well chosen] on the Visage Master Series CD in 1999 brought me around to it as a flawed, but quite acceptable album. No such revelations [pun intended] for “U-vox.”

            I’m with you on the Boy George thing. Culture Club had about 2-3 songs max that I could get behind. My head was turned by “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” but the album was such a let down when I finally heard it. I’d save “Time” and “Church of The Poison Mind” [plus it’s non-LP B-side, “Manshake!”] from the wood chipper if it came to that. The rest? Pffffft!

            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.