Want List: The 40th Anniversary Boxed Set of God Of Ultravox’s “Vienna” Is Nearing Launch

ultravox ©1980 brian griffin vienna session

Outtake from “Vienna” cover session ©1980 Brian Griffin

Well after much ado, and chatter outside this blog, the mooted 40th Anniversary BSOG of Ultravox’s seminal “Vienna” album is getting ready for launch on the 25th of September, 2020. Approximately 40 years on from its initial release, which was actually July 11th, 1980. I encountered the band and music in September of that year when I happened to see the “Passing Strangers” video on “Hollywood Heartbeat.” So for this American, yes, it’s close to exactly 40 years and damn, I sure feel the sweep of that time as if it were only yesterday.

I was thrilled beyond compare once I finally heard this band I’d know of in name only. This was the Synthesizer Rock I had been waiting for. This made Gary Numan sound like the amateur he was. I had a hard time finding a copy of “Vienna” in Central Florida. That was number one with a bullet for months until I was in a Charleston, SC Musicland and finally saw the album for sale. My nascent Record Cell had a new tentpole as of then as the band swiftly became the foundation of my way forward. I quickly went backwards with the band’s earlier albums and sideways, with Visage and the solo John Foxx material also available on import. And I loved it all, dearly.

So now, 12 years after releasing “Definitive Editions” of “Vienna” and declaring “there’s nothing left in the cupboard” we have the modern SDLX boxed edition tempting us with its wares. But with the industry imploded, it’s nothing so cut and dried as one format or another. There are several different formats; with differing content in each. But if you know PPM, you’ll know that I’m all over CD format. I have numerous Vienna editions on LP and CD, but this time I’m ignoring the vinyl. Your mileage may vary. What’s at stake? New stuff previously unreleased  in red.

vienns CD boxed set 40th anniversary

Warner Music Group | UK | 5xCD + DVD-A | 2020

Ultravox: Vienna 40th Anniversary BOX – UK – 5xCD + DVD [2020]

CD 1 – Vienna [Original 1980 Analogue Master]

  1. Astradyne
  2. New Europeans
  3. Private Lives
  4. Passing Strangers
  5. Sleepwalk
  6. Mr. X
  7. Western Promise
  8. Vienna
  9. All Stood Still

CD 2 –  Vienna [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]

  1. Astradyne
  2. New Europeans
  3. Private Lives
  4. Passing Strangers
  5. Sleepwalk
  6. Mr. X
  7. Western Promise
  8. Vienna
  9. All Stood Still
  10. Waiting
  11. Passionate Reply
  12. Alles Klar
  13. Herr X

CD 3 – Rarities: Singles/B-Sides/Live

  1. Sleepwalk [Early Version]
  2. Waiting
  3. Face To Face [Live in St Albans 16/8/1980]
  4. King’s Lead Hat [Live at The Lyceum 17/8/1980]
  5. Vienna [Single Version]
  6. Passionate Reply
  7. Herr X
  8. All Stood Still [Single Version]
  9. Alles Klar
  10. Keep Talking [Cassette Recording During Rehearsals]
  11. All Stood Still [12” Mix]
  12. Sleepwalk [Soundcheck, The Lyceum 17/8/1980]
  13. All Stood Still [Soundcheck, The Lyceum 17/8/1980]
  14. Vienna [Live Video Version, St Albans City Hall 16/8/80]
  15. Sleepwalk [Live Video Version, St Albans City Hall 16/8/80]

CD 4 – Cassette Recordings During Rehearsals 1979/80

  1. Astradyne
  2. New Europeans (Instrumental)
  3. Private Lives (Instrumental)
  4. Passing Strangers (Instrumental 1)
  5. Sleepwalk (Version 1)
  6. Mr. X
  7. Western Promise
  8. Vienna
  9. All Stood Still (Instrumental 1)
  10. Sound On Sound
  11. Animal
  12. Sleepwalk (Version 2)
  13. Sound On Sound (Instrumental)
  14. Passing Strangers (Instrumental 2)
  15. All Stood Still (Instrumental 2)

CD 5 – Live in St. Albans 1980

  1. Astradyne
  2. New Europeans
  3. Passing Strangers
  4. Quiet Men
  5. Face To Face
  6. Mr. X
  7. Western Promise
  8. Vienna
  9. Slow Motion
  10. Hiroshima Mon Amour
  11. All Stood Still
  12. Sleepwalk
  13. Private Lives
  14. King’s Lead Hat

Disc 6 – DVD [Audio Only]

Vienna album – Steven Wilson Mix
96/24 5.1 Surround Sound Mix
DTS 96/24 5.1 Surround Mix
DOLBY AC3 5.1 Surround Mix
9624 LPCM Stereo Mix

B-sides – Steven Wilson Mix
96/24 5.1 Surround Sound Mix
DTS 96/24 5.1 Surround Mix
DOLBY AC3 5.1 Surround Mix
9624 LPCM Stereo Mix

Vienna album – 1980 Original Analog Master
9624 LPCM Stereo Mix

B-sides – 1980 Original Analog Master
9624 LPCM Stereo Mix

As we can see there’s a decent heft to this. A hard 12″ x 12″ box with 20 pp. LP sized booklet of notes/photos and 4 A4 art prints. Steven Wilson has been engaged to provide a 5.1 remix on DVD and they are also including his 2.0 mix of the album which was a by-product of the 5.1 process. Thorough. The DVD has every variant of the versions of the album [and its B-sides!] in 5.1 and 2.0 in high-res 96/24 quality, so this will be conceivably the hottest mastering of “Vienna” ever issued. Of course with 40 year old master tapes, we know baking has happened, if Conny Plank [R.I.P.] used Ampex tape. But this could be revelatory. I only wish that they had done DSD mastering of the project as well. My mind shudders to consider a DSD stream of this music.

Disc 3 is largely a rehash of disc two of the “definitive edition” but even there were a couple of live video soundtracks and the 7″ edits of “All Stood Still” and “Vienna” added for maximum thoroughness. I’m wary about disc four. The “Keep Talking” B-side was from a rehearsal cassette and it sounded really rough. A whole disc of that kind of material may be tough going, even if they did salt it with a few tracks that never fully developed into songs we would recognize. [“Animal,” “Sound  On Sound”]

the very best of ultravox cover artIt’s the live album from the UK tour on disc five that I am the most interested in. Chrysalis filmed two tracks at the St. Alban’s gig [“Sleepwalk” + “Vienna”] and those videos were included on the bonus DVD included with “The Very Best of Ultravox” CD/DVD combo released in 2009. These were hot ones all right. Ultravox from their early era without laptops and MIDI to fall back on, yet still heavily synthetic. Excitement! And the most intriguing thing about this gig was that it came from their first tour with Midge Ure, so the band dipped back into the Foxx era for the first and last time as they only had so much material to play. So Midge Ure sang “Slow Motion,” “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” And “Quiet Men.” I’ve wanted to hear this event for 40 years and the end of the road’s in sight now. The US price of this is $69. Not bad for 6 discs. More affordable than I expected on hearing that this was coming.

Of course, there are other formats made out of PVC, if you must. The 4x LP in clear vinyl is extreme eye candy but I won’t be partaking. There’s only so much money in my budget and the days of buying every Ultravox record ended in years ago. But here’s the package.

vidnna clear cinyl 4oth anniversary box cover art

Warner Music Group | UK | 4xLP | 2020

Ultravox: Vienna 40th Anniversary BOX – UK – 4xLP [clear vinyl] [2020]

LP 1: Vienna/B-sides

Side 1

  1. Astradyne
  2. New Europeans
  3. Private Lives
  4. Passing Strangers
  5. Sleepwalk

Side 2

  1. Mr. X
  2. Western Promise
  3. Vienna
  4. All Stood Still

Side 3

  1. Waiting
  2. Face To Face [Live in St Albans 16/8/1980]
  3. King’s Lead Hat [Live at The Lyceum 17/8/1980]
  4. Vienna [US Promotional Edit]
  5. Passionate Reply

Side 4

  1. Herr X
  2. All Stood Still [Single Version]
  3. Alles Klar
  4. Keep Talking [Cassette Recording During Rehearsals]

LP 2: Live in St. Albans 1980

Side 1

  1. Astradyne
  2. New Europeans
  3. Passing Strangers
  4. Quiet Men

Side 2

  1. Face To Face
  2. Mr. X
  3. Western Promise
  4. Vienna

Side 3

  1. Slow Motion
  2. Hiroshima Mon Amour

Side 4

  1. All Stood Still
  2. Sleepwalk
  3. Private Lives
  4. King’s Lead Hat

This LP box is attractive, sporting clear vinyl, so critical to the Ultravox mystique. And the LPs were half-speed mastered for better fidelity [or you could just buy the CD/DVD packs – just saying] And the Live @ St. Albans album has a nice, large, discrete cover design in the “Vienna” house style that we can see better here in this pack shot. All of the B-sides were also included with the original 1980 album and if you look closely, they’ve salted the LP edition with a previously unreleased US promo- edit of “Vienna.” The US price of this is $72.00. There are 500 of these being made so if this has your name on it, act quickly.

If vinyl is calling your name and your budget is smaller, the humble black vinyl 2xLP is nothing to sneeze at.

ultravox vienna 2xLP 40th anniversary black vinyl

Warner Music Group | UK | 2xLP | 2020

Ultravox: Vienna 40th Anniversary – UK – 2xLP [2020]

LP 1: Vienna/B-sides

Side 1

  1. Astradyne
  2. New Europeans
  3. Private Lives
  4. Passing Strangers
  5. Sleepwalk

Side 2

  1. Mr. X
  2. Western Promise
  3. Vienna
  4. All Stood Still

Side 3

  1. Waiting
  2. Face To Face [Live in St Albans 16/8/1980]
  3. King’s Lead Hat [Live at The Lyceum 17/8/1980]
  4. Vienna [US Promotional Edit]
  5. Passionate Reply

Side 4

  1. Herr X
  2. All Stood Still [Single Version]
  3. Alles Klar
  4. Keep Talking [Cassette Recording During Rehearsals]

This is the same package as LP 1 of the boxed version, but the cover has a red obi variation unique to this edition. I can’t say if it’s an actual obi or just a print variation. And the US “Vienna” promo edit is still here. These professionals know what they are doing to pry that money out of our tight purses! This one is not a limited edition but the $32 cost is more modest. What will I do? Usually I grouse about how I can’t afford this, that, or the other thing. But the fact is that “Vienna” is one of my most crucial albums. I have to get this, but at least I found an online dealer discounting the pre-order at a more modest $57.00! And while I was poking around at said dealer, I checked and saw the Prince SOTT box at a senses shattering $113 pre-order, so I bit the bullet and pre-ordered both. Expect full coverage in October. Meanwhile, if these call out to you, the Official Ultravox Store has many bundle variations with t-shirts in the mix as well. Click that button…

post-punk monk buy button– 30 –

 

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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27 Responses to Want List: The 40th Anniversary Boxed Set of God Of Ultravox’s “Vienna” Is Nearing Launch

  1. Andy B says:

    Like you Monk, I was all over this like a rash.

    Ultravox was the first group that I really got into. I was a little late to the party having only became aware of them when they performed ‘Vienna’ on Top Of The Pops in January ’81. Although they had performed ‘Sleepwalk on the same show the summer before somehow they had passed me by. ‘Passing Strangers’ failed to make the UK Top 40 and I certainly never saw the single being performed, or the video played, on UK tv at the time of release.

    ‘Vienna’ the album holds a special place in my heart as it was the first album I ever got. Although I have the various reissues on CD I couldn’t pass this up. Like you, it’s the cassette recordings in rehearsals and the live CD that grab me the most. I do wonder just how rough these cassette recordings will be too. By the way, I’ve read elsewhere that ‘Sound On Sound’ is an early version of ‘Face To Face’ but with different lyrics. The live concert certainly comes from the first UK tour although Midge and the boys undertook a low key US tour in late ’79 of course after a few warm up gigs in the UK, including at Erics, Liverpool.

    My only frustration is that the US Promotional Edit of Vienna is not on any of the CDs. The lengths that record companies will go to to try and tempt you to buy the vinyl too!

    Anyway, roll on October!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      AndyB – Hard to believe we got a leg up in The States with the “Passing Strangers” clip! I remember seeing it shortly after “Ashes To Ashes” made a bid splash and I felt that visually, they aced Bowie, who held the mantle of “best video” for about a month or two until Russell Mulcahy and Ultravox grabbed the brass ring from him. We should be able to buy the “Vienna ” Edit as a DL somewhere, methinks. I’m just thrilled that the vinyl and CDs are not in the same [three figure] box! I disrespect buying vinyl I don’t need or want.

      Like

  2. JT says:

    Just a month or two ago, I did a good careful critical comparison the 1998 vs 2009 remasters of Quartet and Vienna (also also the 2018 version for Rage in Eden). I’ve yet to be especially impressed with the mastering on any of these reissues (2009 and 2018 RiE sound identical). None of them are disasters, but they haven’t quite got it right. The 1998s are too thin with a hyped high end and sibilance issues, and the 2009s are tubby and murky. It’d be nice if they could finally nail Vienna, at least.

    Bonus trax tho? Eh, mildly interested in “Sound on Sound” or “Animal”, and vaguely curious about Wilson’s mix… but I’m gonna have listen to a buddy’s copy to hear how the classic album is mastered before I even consider buying this album *again*.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – The 2008 and 2018 are exactly the same files. Just a repressing, with slightly different artwork. I will let you know how the 96/24 1980 master sounds. The DVD is as definitive as things that King Crimson [also a Wilson project] have done. I have each of the masterings and could geek out on a post with lots of waveforms. I wish I had the copious free time to spend time on as esoteric a pursuit as comparing mastering qualities on an album I have many editions of.

      I mentioned DSD mastering. I’ve loved CDs I have with DSD mastering even though it’s downsampled to 16/44.1. I have some hybrid SACDs but don’t have a compatible player. Thoughts on DSD vs. 24/96 from an expert?

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      • JT says:

        >The 2008 and 2018 are exactly the same files.

        Ah, as I thought. Thanks for the confirmation.

        > Thoughts on DSD vs. 24/96 from an expert?

        PSA for PPM readers…
        96/24 is snake oil.
        Although there is a measurable benefit to using higher sample rates and bit depths in the production process, there is no audible result to the end listener. Music released to the public in bit depths higher than 16-bit or sample rates higher than 44.1KHz is just a way to psychologically manipulate consumers.

        Double-blind and loudness-matched listening tests reveal no differences. Audible differences come from imprecisely matched listening levels, differing DA converters, or listener bias, not from the bit depth or sample rate of the data. But more importantly, a deep understanding of the science behind these rates/depths clearly reveals why they won’t matter to the end listener (sorry, that’d take a long chapter in a book or a trio of two-hour college lectures to cover — when they let me burn up that much time on the subject. Usually I have to condense it!).

        The jury is out on DSD. I’ll reserve comments until I’ve done more critical listening and read more published documentation. But if it sounds good to you, go for it.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          JT – The DSD masterings I’ve heard of titles I already had were also done on equipment a generation apart! I have the 1986 ABKCO mastering of “Sympathy For The Devil” from “The London Years” and when I bought the hybrid SACD of the “Beggar’s Banquet” album and popped it in to hear the CD layer in my car going home [try THAT with your “vinyls”] I was astonished by the depth of what I was hearing. It sounded like a 5.1 mix in my car. But yeah, that conversion was done on ca. 2002 equipment vs 1st gen hardware. I’m just amazed we had digital audio formats before computers were really involved with sound files. That must have been a wild and woolly era! Sort of like that 8-ish year period where one could design on a Mac, but still needed service bureaus to output film OR positives in high resolution – to be re-photographed for plating with a graphic arts camera! Don’t miss those days at all. The all-digital workflow is for me.

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  3. Although this isn’t my favourite of the Midge-era Ultravox albums (that would be Rage in Eden, it is an iconic album full of great stuff — and although I am blessed to live in a “sane” country but cursed to have a poor exchange rate with most of the rest of the world! (Whyyyyy??!), I am biting the bullet on this one as well. It’s not as reasonably-priced for me (mostly due to shipping), but if they have really done the best job possible on this it will be worth every nickel (Canada doesn’t have pennies!).

    It irks me that there are several reasonably expensive projects like this coming out at the moment, which is testing my budget sorely. I am almost (dare I say it) thankful that live tours aren’t happening right now, so those funds can be repurposed!

    Like

  4. slur says:

    Thanks for the full oversight of this. Interesting but I’ll let this pass on me, guess I’ll be up for the 50th Anniversary Edition which will appear most likely as the definitive edition. For the Cassette Recordings and the Live Set I will take bets that they’ll reappear as RSD exclusives.

    The BBC Recording from 14th of January 1981, Paris Theatre, London is missing imho, so I’ll stick with my other copies I already have for now.

    Like

  5. Ade.W says:

    Hmmm, Its not great is it? I am surprised that the cd’s are not broken down into 2 or 3 edition packs. It looks like its all or nothing. I don’t need cd 6 at all, cassette recordings , no thanks, Steve Wilson mix (ho hum) original album, got it already. The St Albans live is the only bit of interest to me , but the clear vinyl is dearer than the 6 discs, What !!!! I think my £55 will live to fight another day. So for me , I’m out.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Ade.W – I totally get it. We have to choose our Classic SDLX BSOG battles carefully. Especially in these, the End Times. I only have four such beasts: “New Gold Dream” [****], “Sparkle In The Rain [**], “Roxy Music [***], and “1999” [*****]. Prince wins this war by dint of his Vault. An asset that no other artist can vie with.

      I’m in on “Vienna” because it is a critical album for me. If the “St. Albans” lives up to the potential from the vids, I’ll be quite happy. The live BBC disc from 1981 was always a tease with just 7/9 “Vienna” tracks. Not expecting much from the cassette disc!

      Having this box will give me a certain amount of delight that it exists and someone took the time to make it. And not charge more. I’ll get my clear vinyl lust sated byt he “Sleepwalk” 12″ at the end of the month [hopefully].

      I expect to have more attention going to the “Sign O’The Times” SDLX at the same time. It’s hardly my favorite Prince album, [“1999” is close to that] but that’s neither here nor there.

      Like

  6. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,
    glad to see this listed here.
    I know we’ve gone over the details on 2 other sites now.
    But will be interesting to see the reception here.

    Of course, I’ll be getting it at some point down the road,
    along with Sleepwalk single,

    Yeah, the exclusive vinyl is just a thing nowadays, but
    it is what it is.

    Most tracks turn up on ‘digital’ services at some point down
    the road. I’m not interested in the surround sound versions,
    which are always gimmicky. But it will be interesting to
    extract the individual tracks, and see if there are some interesting]
    takes in there.

    later
    -1

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – Kind of ironic to be discussing this on other sites in advance of my own website, considering how crucial this album was for me, but there we are. From the comments, buy-in/blow-off ratio seems to be about 50-50. Kind of wary at how “difficult” it may be to get the “Sleepwalk” single. Will try Rough Trade US. Hopefully the US store will be my salvation. The postage from the UK on a 12″ will be a killer. Don’t want to give in to an extortionate situation!

      Like

  7. Gavin says:

    A bit harsh on old “Nine Inch” Numan there…
    Only CD 4 interests me here,so I won’t be shelling out.I much prefer Rage in Eden as an album overall.
    I have the CD with a few b-sides added from several years ago and that is sufficient for me,but I am glad this seminal album is being celebrated.Also still have the original Double-Play cassette with RIE on the Flipside.
    I have always thought that the cover photo looked very amateurish,compared to all of the absolute classic covers they achieved with almost every other release.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – Brian Griffin’s photography is peerless. Especially in B+W, but yes. The design is modest, but they hadn’t given Peter Saville a call yet, had they?

      Like

    • slur says:

      I must agree about the judgement onto Numan here. His first run up to 1980/81 is priceless. Being more Punk than Romantic New Wave Rock in attitude and musical craftsmanship and basically a solo artist vs. a band he’s pretty much incomparable to Ultravox imho.

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        slur – I viewed Numan as Synthesizer Rock and his records, as much as I enjoyed them pre-Fall 1980 [and I enjoyed them a lot…] his songwriting, singing, and playing was never of the caliber I got from Ultravox, once that happened. Not even close to these ears. Fortunately, in 1981 he stopped trying to make an Ultarvox record [this is by his own admission] and gave his interest in JAPAN the reins and he made a spectacular album that I bought the same weekend as “The Garden” and “Rage In Eden” and I found to be excellent company for those two. Possibly his apex. He may have surpassed “Another Green World” with side one. Then came “Warriors.” Sigh.

        Like

  8. Vienna, Rage in Eden, even the couple that came after it, love them all. This is my favorite Ultravox stuff. The icy synth material from the early 80s. Sort of New Romantic sort of not. Midge Ure I have a soft spot for and his solo album with If I Was on it. Must dig that out. I had Ultravox the Collection on ‘double cassette’ for many years and served me proud, this article and the music referenced brings a lot of those memories back. Thank you Monk! And you’re spot on about Empires and Dance, much better than Real to Real…. Every song.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      the press music reviews – All of this stuff is what I call my “core collection.” Bands like Ultravox, OMD, and Simple Minds were the ground zero for much of my listening from then to now. They have their fallow periods where I can’t stand them, but I retain interest as long as they are hitting up to a certain standard.

      Like

  9. Duncan Watson says:

    Well, that track listing confirms what Warren said a few years ago that there were no lost gems in the Vienna sessions. They worked very hard on making it a great album using the tracks they believed in and it indeed stands the test of time. I have ordered the CD/DVD box set only because I have not actually bought any of the prior Vienna re-issues.

    Actually, I lie. I bought the 9 CD set “The Albums 1980 – 2012” which bizarrely went out of print really quickly. It was nice to own them all again. Well nearly them all; The Pink Album remains in that box, understandably unplayed.

    I always wondered about Sound On Sound. The original music newspaper quarter-page adverts for the Passing Strangers single stated Sound On Sound as the b-side but the adverts changed a couple of weeks before the release. It was only recently that I managed to find an MP3 of it online

    Like

  10. middle aged man says:

    Hi, there is a great feature in the Electronic Sound magazine this month on the making of the album

    Like

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