The 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.”
Rubellan 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.
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.
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!
Next: …They Said It Couldn’t Be Done…And They Were Wrong