Record Review: Ultravox – “Sleepwalk” 12″ For Record Store Day Offers Glimpse At Steven Wilson’s Work On Upcoming Ultrabox

ultravox - sleepwalkUSclear12A.jpg

Chrysalis ‎| US | 12″ | 2020 | CHS 12 2441

Ultravox: Sleepwalk US – 12″ [clear] [2020]

  1. Sleepwalk [Steven Wilson mix]
  2. Waiting [Steven Wilson mix]
  3. Sleepwalk [Conny Plank mix]
  4. Waiting [Conny Plank mix]

Wow! I had the most enjoyable RSD experience on Saturday. Two weeks ago I was wondering what my local emporium would be doing for the first drop since they are closed. They are selling remotely by phone and web and offer curbside pickup. So I emailed the store indicating my interest in “Sleepwalk” and “Roxy Music;” both Steven Wilson mixes of classic material. One of the owners got back to me saying they had not yet decided how to proceed. I’d heard of some pretty obnoxious schemes to sell RSD product in the pandemic [lotteries, etc.] that managed to make what was already a bad situation, even worse.

On Friday I found out that the store was selling remotely. Buyers were encouraged to phone/email/FaceBoot Message at 10:00 on Saturday if they wanted any particular title and pay remotely, with pickup offered for in-town buyers. They could sell to out of town buyers by 1:00 as per the RSD “rules.”

I don’t FaceBoot, and don’t use a cell phone. I have an iPod Touch which is a computer in wi-fi and was at the shop getting an oil change/tire rotation in the morning, so I had an email ready to send in drafts indicating the 2 titles I wanted. At 10:00 I hit “send” and by 10:24 I had a response with payment instructions via Paypal. By 10:45 I left the shop and was picking up my records. The kindest, gentlest RSD experience ever.

Pressing quality was great on the Ultravox release. As mentioned, the high quality anti-static sleeve was a real treat. Print quality of the sleeve was impeccable. They obviously sourced the images from photographer Brian Griffin. I’ve never seen so much tone in the shots. And the card stock used came as close as imaginable to that of the original, which used the reverse, textured side of the card stock for an interesting effect. The new sleeve has the same woolly texture.

I digitized it last night. I was hoping for a DL code, but that ship has mostly sailed, though I did get one in the new John Foxx + The Maths album this month! The Wilson mix differences were subtle for “Sleepwalk.” It sounded dryer with less reverb. Slightly reduced bass response. I’m not hearing any differing effects here. Maybe only the EQ has been adjusted slightly. Perhaps because this was a single, and the debut single by the winning Ultravox lineup, the decision was made to have a light touch.

Billy Currie’s hot solo in the middle eight was a little dry and effete in the Wilson mix, with maybe a slight chorus added instead of reverb. It sounded like the upper frequencies had been emphasized at the expense of bass. And maybe a little midrange. Which one do I prefer? Well, having both, the Plank is the definitive in 2.0. But it’s not so far off the mark that it’s night and day. I’ll call it 85% of “Sleepwalk.” Or “Sleepwalk Lite.” But when the intent of the band was to write a song “that had all the guts and gore of Judas Priest, except on synthesizers,” then The Plank mix is the winner.

“Waiting” was another thing entirely. More liberties were taken in the mix and I found that I was liking the difference. The synth swooshes and white noise explosions on the line “syncopate on the marching song” were gone, and since they were already used as hooks in “Sleepwalk,” this made some sense to me. They were still there after looking back as you head for home” though. New aspects of the synths were brought to the foreground. The long intro buildup had enhanced spatial detail in the soundfield. The separation of Warren Cann intoning the title [with synth distortion] was far more pronounced on the Wilson mix. As were his snare tattoos. The reverb here was enhanced from the relativity flatter Plank mix. Everything sounded more dreamlike and surreal. And that only improved this song.

The long atmospheric fade was very different indeed. The varispeed effects were still there, but the synths around the 3:00 mark were given the full spotlight in a way that everything seemed to be held at arms length in the Plank mix. Grinding synths seemed to be a new experience entirely. Swells of string patches were now distinct. And the spaced out synth portamentos in the and of the fade were so buried in the Plank mix that they seemed to be an entirely new, and surreal, experience.

If the “Sleepwalk” was a slightly weaker version, then the “Waiting” mix from Wilson was a bolder mix, and a clear winner. I am favoring the Wilson mix of “Waiting.” So…not bad. Not bad at all. Steven Wilson has managed to find new life in a song like “Waiting” that I always loved; just moreso now! It makes me very interested in hearing the rest of Wilson’s mixes when the box drops in late September. I have to say that I’m now thrilled to have the Wilson 2.0 mix on a separate disc. I appreciate getting the chance to re-experience an old familiar friend in a new light and am now very glad to have pre-ordered the “Vienna” BSOG.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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17 Responses to Record Review: Ultravox – “Sleepwalk” 12″ For Record Store Day Offers Glimpse At Steven Wilson’s Work On Upcoming Ultrabox

  1. Gavin says:

    So glad you had success on RSD!
    I do not partake myself-in any case there are no participating record shops in North Wales that I know of,or at least anywhere near me.
    That Ultravox 12″ certainly looks classy.”Waiting” is one of my favourites.I like the fact that they are keeping up with the clear vinyl,as used so often in their early releases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – The pressing was great. The sleeve looked like “no expense was spared” as opaque white ink was used for just the bar code on the back cover where anyone else would have just used one color of ink: black. It makes me a little giddy seeing it on such a fantastic 12″ single.


      • negative1ne says:

        hi mr monk,
        well even though i won’t open, at least i’ll be able
        to enjoy the artwork on it. congratulations on the purchase.

        saw that midge ure is doing a lockdown patreon, with special
        concerts: 10 UKP per month

        Get connected
        Intimate studio concerts, Q&A, requests etc
        Opportunity to buy exclusive Lockdown Club merchandise
        VIP packages for selected gigs exclusively available to Club Members
        Repeat broadcasts available

        THE BACKSTAGE LOCKDOWN CLUB gives you exclusive, regular access to a series of intimate, musical events on a monthly subscription basis. Every month there will be at least one, (for a minimum of 45 minutes) Club Event with the opportunity to make musical requests, Q+A sessions, acoustic songs and just generally chat with Midge all live from his Environment Studio. These will usually be at 7:30 pm UK time which should allow the US and Europe to join us, and occasionally we’ll do 10am slots to enable Japan, Australia and New Zealand to join in!

        When we get back to being able to do normal live shows again, we have arranged for Club members to have exclusive access to tickets and, even more exciting, the opportunity to purchase, Club only, tickets for Pre Show Acoustic/Q&A sessions at some shows.

        We are also planning exclusive Club merchandise that you will be able to purchase and hopefully we will also be able to bring you some full band live performances when circumstances allow.



        • postpunkmonk says:

          negative1ne – I saw word of this being teased earlier. Though I’m certainly in favor of keeping Midge Ure’s finances steady in these tumultuous times, there are NO artists I can afford to pledge £120/year [$160/year] for. They all say, “it’s just the price of two cups of coffee!” But not in my universe. I don’t even drink coffee. Or anything else that costs money. I drink water. It’s what my body wants and needs. Anything else is entertainment. I spend money on housing, medical, food, gasoline, and entertainment. In that order. And this year I have spent $406.72 on music so far this year. An all time low. And gratifying, I might add. Giving over a third of that to Midge Ure for no takeaways not valuable to me. But best of luck to him. He’s a solid gentleman who deserves to earn a living with music. As is next to impossible as that is in the hellworld of 2020 that those in power have created.


          • negative1ne says:

            hi mr monk,

            Got my copy of the Sleepwalk 12 inch today.

            Opened up the box with some other vinyl I ordered.

            Looked over the cover, and stuck it in another container
            with the rest of the ultravox singles I have. Guess its going
            to be there for awhile now. Didn’t really notice the texture
            of the cover, or maybe that was the plastic on top of it.



            • Mathmandan says:

              Isn’t the general wisdom to not leave original shrink wrap on, even if you have no plans to play the vinyl? Reason being the shrink wrap can shrink a little further over time and warp the sleeve. It’s definitely happened to me.


              • postpunkmonk says:

                Mathmandan – I always take the shrink wrap off for that reason. I’ve left it on some albums that I had no intention of playing but after a few months the wrap startes looking really tight and makes me nervous. So I remove it [saving all hype stickers, of course].


  2. Christopher Merritt says:

    Mine was less enjoyable (got up at 3am and still was #3 in line) – but got all that I wanted including this (New Order peel sessions and new The The 7″) and you are 100% correct in your review. I don’t have the original UK 7″ for comparison, but the texture of the sleeve was really interesting and the pressing was dead quiet and sounded amazing on my system! Can’t wait for the Vienna box.


  3. Ade.W says:

    Just to let anyone know who might be interested, Electronic Sound magazine are doing a 7″ clear ultravox single this month, Herr X and Alles klar. get em while they’re icy cold.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Ade.W – WHAT?! My spouse are each on the magazine mailing list and we’ve not heard squat yet! [checks email] Ah. We wake up at 4. The email arrived at 5:39. I had not looked at my device since I woke up. So I went to Electronic Sound to buy this issue/single RIGHT NOW and it was already SOLD OUT!

      Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! That’s evil and annoying. But the mag bundle is also sold at, but as of yet, they don’t have any stock listed for sale. We’ll see if they have an allotment beyond the magazine website. I would love the magazine in any case, but not getting the 7″ is kind of a deal breaker.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: “Vienna” Gets Ultrabox After 40 Years As Synth Rock Touchstone [part 3] | Post-Punk Monk

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