Visage: Beat Boy [Special Cassette Remix] – US – CD-R 
- Beat Boy [cassette version] 7:16
- Casualty [cassette version] 5:59
- Questions [cassette version] 7:09
- Only The Good Die Young [cassette version] 5:33
- Can You Hear Me [cassette version] 6:29
- The Promise [cassette version] 4:07
- Love Glove [cassette version] 5:44
- Yesterday’s Shadow [cassette version] 6:35
- Questions [reprise] 2:36
- Beat Boy [dance dub] 5:22
- Beat Boy [10 min. Dance Mix] 8:45
- Beat Boy [Machine Mix] 9:49
- Beat Boy [Special Mix] 3:20
Visage seemed to be a spent force by 1984.
By 1983 the members from Ultravox and Magazine; ostensibly the raison d’etre of the collective band were long gone. A desire for management change saw the Steve Strange and Rusty Egan break ties with Morrison/O’Donnell [who also managed Ure and Currie] and they spent over a year tied up in court unable to record. It was during this period that “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection” was released in both regular and a special dance mix issue [REVO 085]. Drummer Rusty Egan had worked with some interesting guys on a Nona Hendryx record during the downtime. He found fresh blood in the Barnacle Brothers; Steve on bass and synths, and Gary on saxes. A new guitarist was picked with Andy Barnett being chosen from Corey Hart’s band who had just broken through with “Sunglasses At Night.”
Meanwhile, the UK pop scene was undergoing a metamorphosis from the New Romantic period; now fully over. Frankie Goes To Hollywood were the new kings. Digital sampling was the latest thing and Trevor Horn and ZTT were making the records that cowed the masses with their technological acumen. At the same time, stadium rock was poised to return at any minute. The singles collection album had liner notes claiming that Visage’s number wasn’t up yet, and Rusty Egan vowed that if Visage was going to be a band, “it is gonna be a real band.”
The first hint of the new sound of Visage was when Debut Magazine number five included a 3:40 mix of the title track, “Beat Boy.” This was a fully sample-based recording with fat sequencers overlaid with industrial sounds and to top it off, squealing rock guitar. The tone of Andy Barnett’s playing slotted in close to the metal spectrum even as the last Visage album, “The Anvil,” had downplayed the importance of guitar from the debut album. This new sound amped the guitar in the mix to much higher levels.
This was matched by Egan compensating with a dive deep into the Fairlight Page R bucket. Egan was unconvinced by the proposed first single “Love Glove;” calling it “Eurotrash.” He seemed to think that the sample heavy “Beat Boy” was the light at the end of the tunnel. He managed to make numerous mixes of this on the Fairlight. In the end, the market disagreed, and only the “Love Glove” single charted… at the lower reaches of the charts. “Beat Boy” turned out to be a stiff and the final contiguous Visage single.
The “Beat Boy” album was given one luxury as it was sent out into an uncaring world. The cassette version in the UK was another remixed “dance mix” production similar to the tape version of the previous album, “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection.” The new songs were already fairly long so the remixes here were slightly changed instead of radical overhauls. The songs were not as tightly segued as the last outing, but there was still no dead air in between the tracks, and there was one bonus: a reprise of “Questions” at the end of the program. To round out the album, several mixes of “Beat Boy” [some of which were white label promos] have been appended to the disc. Like the previous dance mix album, it has fallen to REVO to take matters into our own hands.
Longtime readers know that it takes me forever to sometimes obtain desired releases to turn into discs, but in this case, a reader came to the rescue. He had a tape and was interested in having it made into a disc. With tapes that old, there is a race against time in digitizing them before the dreaded binder squeal happens. Where the glue used to adhere the magnetic particles to the polyester dries out and the magnetic information literally is scraped off of the tape in playback by the head pressure on the tape. Resulting in the painful squeal we all hate pre-recorded tapes for.
So this gent sent me the tape from the UK. I received it and as usual, the UK tape had a foam pressure pad. The type that deteriorates in just a few years, never mind 35! Since surgery was needed I asked the owner if this was all right to undertake. He consented. I carefully cracked the tape shell and replaced the reels of tape into an existing Maxell UD-XLII tape shell, along with the graphite slipsheets that this tape didn’t have to begin with. The Maxell shell was screw open and would offer the tape inside much more care and protection than the shell it had been made with.
I then scanned the original labels and replicated them on label stock. Cutting them out and placing them on the new housing for the tape to make this as close as possible to the look of the original tape. Then in playback, the tape was not suffering from much in the way of playback anomalies. There was no binder squeal, so I digitized the tape. I heard one 10-15 second section that had some noise that sounded like the tape had been slightly mangled there.
I carefully flew in the same section of music from an unaffected portion of the tape in a multitrack editor to “smooth out” the rumbly portion of the audio on both sides of the tape where it had been affected. I chose not to use noise reduction on the tape hiss at the time. I didn’t play back the tape with Dolby B on since it lops off high frequencies in the music as well. So the files I made sounded like the tape playing.
The same gent had also digitized their copy of the white label promo 12″ of “Beat Boy.” It’s a rare disc that’s hard to buy. Particularly so since the name “Visage” is completely missing from it! They sent me a link to the raw files, which I downloaded and proceeded to denoise like anything else I do. It’s a point of irony that the self-proclaimed “ten minute dance mix” was actually only 8:45! It’s obvious that Rusty Egan was smitten with the sound manipulation capabilities of the Fairlight. That’s why there’s eight mixes of the track!
There was room for two more of them. Visage fans [hopefully] have the Cherry Red CD of “Beat Boy” that came out in 2009. If you don’t it will now set you back a pretty penny. It contained the 12″ A-side of the “Beat Boy Dance Mix.” I had many more mixes, but not all of them would fit. I decided to put the 12″ B-side dub mix, which I had on a German CD single of “Fade To Grey” that came out in the late 80s.
I then digitized the rare mix of the track on the Debut #5 album. So the tape now had four more mixes of “Beat Boy” on it to fill out a CD. The tape’s owner had requested that I use the US “Beat Boy” cover as the basis of the artwork, so I scanned my US LP and cleaned up the images, and designed an eight page booklet to finish the job off. At the time I made this CD I only had a single archival MAM-A gold printable disc left, so I made it for the tape’s owner. My own copy would wait until this year, when I finally got a 100 disc spindle of the now even more exorbitantly priced blank archival media. But what was I going to do with all of those other remixes that didn’t fit onto this disc? Stay tuned…
This will be a fascinating REVO production!
A fantastic artifact indeed.
I bought the cassette version of “Beat Boy” when it came out,then the LP later.
Interestingly,several months before the album was released,Steve Strange and ‘the ex-drummer’ appeared on a British radio show discussing at length their record label woes and the stories behind songs from the forthcoming album.I recorded this on tape at the time.They played a few tracks which I am sure were rough versions and the whole thing was probably an hour long.
Unfortunately it has been lost over time so I cannot hear it again.
Gavin – “The ex-drummer…” That’s a great way to put that! That sounded like an interesting radio program for sure! It would be advantageous to hear a song like “Casualty” before they let Rod Stewart and his backing vocalists on it! Too bad you can’t find the tape. Maybe someone has uploaded it somewhere?
Hi Gavin, what you are talking about are the only BBC sessions Visage ever recorded. I also listened to, and taped, the whole programme when it was broadcast in 1983. So they weren’t rough mixes but totally different recordings of The Promise, Can You Hear Me, Only The Good Die Young and Questions. Interestingly keyboards on these sessions were played by Mulligan from Fashion. You can hear the session on YouTube here https://youtu.be/x0k_zVbkijs
RichardAnvil – So there were four tracks from the BBC session. Looking back, it’s amazing that a studio project like Visage got the nod to do this. “Can You Hear Me” turned up on this compilation [which I don’t have yet]
But that disc mislabels “The Anvil” as a BBC recording, where it was clearly not part of the “Beat Boy” set you describe.
Thank you Richard,that is amazing! After almost 40 years my recollection isn’t great of the details,so this is a real treat.
Amazing that you’d spent your time on this. I got it when it came out but never found anything really interesting in it. Listening to it in the distance of a few years or in repeat just did not make it better. The only half decent track was ‘Love Glove’, ‘Beat Boy’ (as single) was such a programmatic failure I really had to hold on to myself to keep the 12″ for my collection. Just to make sure I don’t buy it accidently again due to hoping it aged well or some irritating feeling of missing piece in the puzzle.
The mediocre artwork and production did show clearly that this was just a mass market production for the pop market and Strange and Egan where not able or willing to steer the elegant, playful and stylish ship on their own.
slur – You have hit the nail in the head as to my feelings about this album on release. I distanced myself from it for over a decade as part of the wide-ranging ‘mid80s malaise.” But the passage of time and lots of critical listening to all of the terrible music from artists I liked at least as much as Visage [or better] has seen me reevaluate this period. It was poor Visage. But I find much of it now head and shoulders better than poor Ultravox, poor Simple Minds, POOR OMD, and especially poor David Bowie. That I find that Visage made incredible moves in the 21st century also helps. Things like The Cage single also don’t hurt.
Monk, I too listened to the radio show that Gavin speaks of. It was broadcast on BBC Radio One’s Kid Jensen show on 15th May 1983.
Steve and Rusty indeed discussed their record label problems. Visage had previously been signed to Polydor America and Steve and Rusty wanted out. Hence the long gap between ‘Pleasure Boys’ in Autumn ’82 and the ‘Beat Boy’ album in ’84.
They also talked of the new line up of the group and wanted have more of a ‘band’ feel. During the show they played early recordings of tracks recorded by the new line up that would eventually appear on the ‘Beat Boy’ album. They are ‘Can You Hear Me?’ ‘Only The Good (Die Young)’ ‘The Promise’ and ‘Questions’. Although they are a little rough sounding they somehow sound fresher than the album versions. The tracks minus the interview are up on HellTube if you are desperate to hear them.
AndyB – Well, RichardAnvil came to the rescue there with the URL for the Visage BBC session in the comment above.
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