[…continued from last post]
Visage released their 1st compilation album in 1983. After the group seemed to have hit a brick wall with the losses of both Midge Ure and Billy Currie, it made a certain kind of sense to release a singles collection. This happened in 1983 with “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection.” I was surprised to see this pop up in the US marketplace and I bought a copy, of course. Visage were a potent force for my ears; the next best thing to an Ultravox record, by my reckoning. Sure sure. Steve Strange would never out sing Midge Ure, but Midge could not take a frontman role in the project, by design [and mostly by contract]. So this meant that Steve was the lead face here. The bait at the time was the 1978 demo of the band’s early effort; a cover of Zager + Evans’ late 60s hit “In The Year 2525.” The US LP had credits that several tracks were remixed for the inclusion there, but it was hard to tell with those green ears I had at the time. I always suspected that the US mastering lacked these mixes referenced by the liner notes. I never found the UK LP of this title, but bought a German CD as soon as it became available in 1991.
For a group who were as attuned to the club floor as Visage, a greatest hits album seemed almost perfunctory. With clearer thinking prevailing, this album was revisited, remixed, and issued in Dance Mix format on cassette, but a few copies were also pressed up on a limited edition album with the distinctive red border. After all, was that not what the prevailing aesthetic of the day demanded? The “band” had many of their singles touched by the hand of proto dj/remixer John Luongo, and he was given the brief to make this compilation more club worthy. The dead air between tracks was deemed superfluous. Then most of the 7” versions that predominated on the earlier version of the album were ejected. 12″ mixes, for the most part, were in. Luongo took even these established commercial mixes to different places by re-editing them to create a flow. The segues and cross fades Luongo built into the mix now resembled a night in a club.
A club that only played Visage!
When I wrote the liner notes to my handmade CD of this title, I wrote the following words as my conclusion:
“As Universal seem to have no interest in exploiting this Visage curio, it has fallen to us to do something with it.” – REVO | 2017
And just three years later I was pleasantly shocked to see that I could now eat those words…gladly!
Visage: Fade To Grey The Singles Collection – Special Dance Mix Album US CD 
- Fade To Grey [dance mix] 6:22
- Mind Of A Toy [dance mix] 5:11
- Visage [dance mix] 5:33
- We Move [7″ remix] 3:34
- Tar [original 7″ ver.] 3:28
- In The Year 2525 [original mix] 3:40
- The Anvil [dance mix edit] 4:57
- Night Train [dance/dub edit] 6:24
- Pleasure Boys [7″ ver.] 3:27
- The Damned Don’t Cry [dance mix] 5:37
- Frequency 7 3:05
- Night Train (7″ Remix) 3:42
- Der Amboss 4:37
- Pleasure Boys (Bonus Beats) 5:50
- Night Train (Dub Mix) 5:03
I had not even heard of this dance mix version of the “Fade To Grey: The Single Collection” until the late 90s. Possibly in the pages of “Extreme Voice,” the Ultravox fanzine. Just getting the trashed LP version of this album in the early noughts was difficult. I think I paid >$30 on eBay after getting outbid several times over the course of a few years. It was possibly a dozen years later when I finally played and digitized my copy to CD-R in 2017. The record sounded like it had seen better days. The results I got made me almost consider re-editing the entire album out of higher quality rips of the same 7″/12″ source material that Luongo used to edit the album, but a few hours spent down that rabbit hole convinced me that I had much better uses for my scant time.
Thank goodness I’m lazy because the completely unexpected Rubellan Remasters CD not only has the proper album from a master tape source, but five godlike bonus tracks that were worth the price of the disc alone. Not 100% of the album consisted of the dance mixes from 12″ single. In order to have something that would fit on a cassette or LP, there were a few timing considerations. The short remix of “We Move” was happily used instead of the dance mix. On my LP of this title the recording of “We Move” sounded so poor, that I thought that I had a record with some severe stylus damage on that track. About three quarters the way through the cut, the top end frequencies completely dropped out for the remainder of the song. See the frequency analysis below.It was that occurrence that gnawed at me and made me think of recreating the album from re-edits of rips of my Visage singles instead. The revelation with this CD was that the master tape did the same thing. It was as if two tapes of the song with vastly different EQ applied were spliced together to make the master used. In other words, there was no damage to my record. It had been meant to sound like that. Mastering engineer Scott Davies [who is Rubellan Remasters] confirms this elsewhere.
The original 7″ version of “Tar” was used on this version since there was no dance mix to be had. I finally bought the “Tar” 7″ in the early 90s from a catalog and waited ages to actually play it, and unless you are listening critically, there are only subtle differences between the 7″/LP versions. Probably down to the 1979 single being on WEA/Radar Records and everything else happening after the band signed to Polydor. The band assiduously re-recorded for the album but the key to discerning the differences is that the 7″ fades on a sax solo by McGeoch where the LP version has a piano solo on the fade.
Rubellan Remsaters have made a slight change in removing “Der Amboss” from its track six position [at the end of side one of the LP of this title]. This was down to “The Anvil” being in track eight position. Without the side break, Mr. Davies felt that they were a little close for comfort, and included “Der Amboss” after the album in the bonus tracks. For the most part, slight re-edits of commercial 12″ singles made up this album, but the “Night Train” mix here was a re-edit of the 12″ and dub mixes of this track. As good as it is to have this version of the album on CD [and I never saw it coming] it’s the bonus tracks on this CD that are must buy criteria for the discerning Visage fan.
Next: …Listen To The Frequencies Shift
I have one comment and one question;
– The two versions of Tar are from the same recording, the album version was just ‘re-produced’ by Midge as he wasn’t happy with the single mix.
– How do you know that John Luongo did the mixing and editing of all the tracks on the ‘Dance Mix Version of the singles collection? I have the original cassette and vinyl and it doesn’t mention who did the mixing of the album though it does mention that John mixed Pleasure Boys, Night Train and The Anvil. I know the new CD states ‘Remixed by Visage in association with John Luongo’ but Scott just seems to be reducing down all the production credits listed on the original rather than meaning he mixed the album. From my awareness Rusty Egan did the mixing (he also created the links between tracks on the original Visage album) but its not stated anywhere.
> Rusty Egan did the mixing (he also created the links between tracks on the original Visage album)
I believe Rusty did the “Fade to grey Dance mix album” (he was doing lots of studio work by 1983 and became quite adept at mixing and producing), but links for “Visage” were done by Richard James Burgess, and he was credited with “computer programming”.
Vlad – Fascinating, Captain. Was this in the book “Blitzed” or is this Visage lore?
If you mean Burgess, it’s what Rusty wrote in one of his Facebook posts – but also Richard himself told in his interview to “re:Vox” fanzine. He and John Walters were next to only people in the UK at the time capable of operating the Fairlight, so they did those links to help friends in need :)
By the way, I seem to remember Rusty also claiming doing that dance mix album, somewhere – though I can remember where exactly did he say it. I base my judgement on his vast studio remixer/producer work of the time.
Hell yeah, thanks but thanks. I finally had to buy this now after your Visage week after hoping to find the dance mixes on LP for a reasonable price as soon as I was aware of it’s rumours of existence since ages (far before online researching etc.).
I really wonder why only 1500 copies where manufactured – especially the first album is still a classic which sells steadily all the time.
slur – You can try licensing a reissue from Universal and find out for yourself! They dictate the terms. Rubellan Remaster’s license is strictly for physical CD, so these bonus tracks will not be appearing any time soon on streaming services. Download stores will not have these masterings or these bonus tracks. Remember years ago when Bill Nelson licensed “Getting The Holy Ghost Across” for the CD that finally happened and he had similar terms. He could only afford a short run due to the terms that Sony dictated. Similarly, Gary Numan had restrictions placed on the numbers of the “Machine Music” DVD set he put out due to the [amazing] Saturday Night Live footage he wanted to include. I’m sure its the same with Rubellan Remasters.
If you follow Scott Davies on Steve Hoffman music forums, or New Wave Outpost forum, he’s been astonishingly transparent about his struggles. But if he experiences sellout of all 1500 copies of his releases, then he might be able to grow his reach to bigger numbers. Remember, this is a guy who works full time and does this on the side because he’s compelled! I sure get it!
It’s 1500 initial with 3 years to ask for smaller represses until the deal expires. Since I’m a small one-man show, I take the conservative approach. In truth, the more copies initially requested, the less the per unit cost. I would have asked for only 1000 but my request was put in at the time that anything with bonus tracks required a minimum of 1500. That changed last year and more recent requests have been for 1000 units. In the end, I was just fine with my new Visage reissues being 1500 because they have been by far my best sellers and are helping to spread the word about my label, which in turn is moving some of my other stock as people become aware of my existence. And while I’ve just put up the latest re-press of the Visage debut for sale, I can’t say how many more re-presses I will do. My deal expires around September 2021 for that title. These re-presses have been about 300 units, so Visage now has around 2100 copies in existence.
Scott – I hope you’ll get to find out what success is like with Rubellan Remasters. And at a pace and scale that is not overwhelming, one hopes. Good news about the 3rd pressing of “Visage!”
Thanks for letting us know. I was just wondering if this is an unnecessary limited edition approach or if I’m so wrong feeling at least this first album could still sell a little more (worldwide).
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