Ultravox’s “Rage In Eden” Boxed Set Is Two Of A Perfect Pair [part 6]

Disc 5 – Live @ Hammersmith Odeon 1981 part 2

[…continued from past post]


The next set of tunes here were almost preordained as the band bit into the three song suite that capped their “Rage In Eden” disc. The way these songs flowed, it was inconceivable to break up their running order. Of course, I could say the same thing about “Rage In Eden/I Remember [Death In The Afternoon]” which only had the best segue ever committed to wax, but I suspect the difficulties in realizing it live has kept them from ever attempting it in concert, where the two songs are always played separately in the set. At least, according to recordings and set lists I’ve seen.

Following the last inexorable bass drum hit from “Your Name [Has Slipped My Mind Again],” what else could they do but immediately begin the distinctive “Vienna” rhythm? To the sound of great whistles, cheers, and synchronous applause as this was just nine months following the near miss of the song at the top of the British charts, so it was a victory lap for the band. I liked the plaintive piano subtly added to the song’s coda as the crowd went wild.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when they followed it with the single’s [fantastic] B-side, “Passionate Reply.” For a song that much in thrall to the YMO sound it surely was a showcase for Midge Ure’s taut guitar stylings throughout its running time, until the extended coda where Ure switched to rhythm guitar and then Billy Currie contributed a wild, battery-licking solo. Then the music dropped out save for drum pattern as Ure delivered a final run of the chorus, ably rising on the last note to segue breathlessly into “Passing Strangers” with the key change.

Once more the biggest benefactor to these deep dives into an Ultravox classic was the new emphasis given to Chris Cross in the mix, with his meaty bass riffs front and center for our appreciation. Especially in the instrumental middle eight where they served as counterpoint to my favorite synth solo of all time. Then followed by cascades of fills from Warren Cann on the drums while Ure delivered the extended solo which was always a highlight of this song when preformed live.

“We Stand Alone” followed in the set and then what is shaping up to be my favorite Ure-era single with the benefit of 40+ years of hindsight; a thoroughly vicious, tooth gnashing take of “All Stood Still.” This song was the unholy point of juncture between Heavy Metal, Reggae, and Krautrock. I say those fusions where you can’t tell where one genre begins and another ends are some of the most thrilling flashpoints in music. Currie was really sticking the boot in on his solo, not that Midge Ure was a shrinking violet on guitar, either. See what you think.

The concert ended with what felt like a surprising decision with “The Voice” getting the final slot of the night.but maybe not so strange, after all, it would be released as the second single from the album in a fortnight or so. So playing your next single last was maybe a way to give it a boost. The emphasis that I was not prepared for, however, was the arrangement that the band played it in.

I had not heard any live recordings of the “Rage In Eden” tour…apart from the occasional live B-side and the iffy “Terminals” bootleg. So until the “Monument” video and soundtrack happened in 1983, I was under the mistaken impression that the show-stopping live arrangement of that song from 1982, where the full band played a four drum solo movement as a thrill-packed coda had only happened on the “Quartet” tour. Not so.

At the 5:30 point where the song normally ended, we had Cann on the drum pattern while Cross was dueling on bass guitar until the 6:00 point where, saints preserve us, I heard the first hits of a just-released Simmons Drum, with another one answering in response while the base continued to hammer away. It wasn’t until 6:12 when Chris Cross abandoned his bass to eventually join his cohorts by the 6:45 point with all four Simmons drums firing impressively in syncopated, asynchronous beats until the song’s climax at 7:20.

Knock me over with a feather!

The 1982 tour featured the iconic drum movement coda to “The Voice” as well

I had no idea that the band had committed this vision of “The Voice” to the stage on its inaugural tour in 1981! First of all, I’m shaky on the street date of the Simmons SDS-V kit. “Chant No. 1 [I Don’t Need This Pressure On]” was the coming out party for the instrument, but Spandau Ballet were produced by the drum’s creator; Richard James Burgess. So they could have been using a prototype, as Burgess himself had done on the Landscape and Shock recordings he had produced that year. By the time of the “Quartet” tour a year later, the kits were everywhere, and a natural for the Ultravox stage. You couldn’t have kept Cann away from those things with a machete. He would have found a way to incorporate them.

Also, the drum movement on “The Voice” seemed to have been taken from the solo that appeared on “The Song [We Go],” from Ultravox’s late 1982 album “Quartet.” When watching “Monument” and seeing the climax to “The Voice,” I had assumed that they had interpolated the solo from “The Song [We Go]” into “The Voice” but in reality it was the opposite. It was the live arrangement of “The Voice” from late 1981 which found the band using the idea for the 1982 song that followed.

Next: …Surrounded

About postpunkmonk

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6 Responses to Ultravox’s “Rage In Eden” Boxed Set Is Two Of A Perfect Pair [part 6]

  1. indianswordfish says:

    Nice post.


  2. SubUrsa says:

    > the new emphasis given to Chris Cross in the mix

    yes, that’s great to hear, but i don’t necessarily agree with the Steven Wilson remixes being an improvement over the original Conny Plank mixes, mind you: I’m extremely happy to hear those and they do give some new insights (inhearings ?) in the album, but my point is that the original mixes are stronger for a purpose:

    Rage in Eden is a non-political exposé about propaganda, the totalitarian state, growing up under its cloud etc., it needs the power to express that, it does not need embellishments like normal rock recordings.

    Listen to Warren Canns cymbals on The Voice for instance, they do not lighten up the sound, spread a thin veil of lightness over the track, they are part of the overall sound and they are INTENSE.

    Same goes for the bass sound perhaps, as I don’t hear too much wrong with it, it is part of the package.

    Still, my main listening to this box set has been the 5.1 24/96 DTS remix and I enjoy it tremendously; the album is complete (great for the overall flow) and the upmixes of The Voice and I Remember (Death in the Afternoon) are good enough, they are in fact surprisingly good.
    Two things that stood out: I did not like the treatment of the Midge Ure vocal in the title track, it’s okay-ish, but not my choice, but the segue of that track into I Remember is perfect: the shortwave radio sound is reduced to the middle speaker at the end and when I Remember starts the song throbbingly develops quickly from there into a brilliant, wide spectrum, making the segue even more memorable.

    Great writing btw and looking forward to your Surround experiences.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      SubUrsa – Welcome to the comments! I always felt that “The Thin Wall” was Vox MK II’s most politically charged number from a normally indifferent band on that score. And the video for “The Voice” also looked to an examination of power after a fashion. So your impressions hold a lot of weight. Leave it to Ultravox to approach highly charged politics from an oblique angle. Perhaps what I took for morose, angst-ridden New Romantic sentiment [“young depressive tears”] were symptoms of the totalitarian state? With New Romanticism embracing Europa as it did, perhaps this was en inevitable endgame? I think we can agree that these sentiments reached a fevered peak with “Rage In Eden,” though they were still present [if dialed down somewhat] on “Quartet.”

      I’m afraid we’ll have to wait on the 5.1 impressions as I need time to listen at home in my living room where I have almost no time to sit there in the 5.1 sweet spot and absorb. Hopefully this weekend I’ll have 90 minutes or so free to do this and take notes. Thus far I only spent about 12 minutes sampling tracks two weekends ago to no small astonishment. The original segue between the title track and “I Remember [Death In The Afternoon]” already sounded 3D so I cannot wait to hear what Wilson has done there.


  3. SubUrsa says:

    > Perhaps what I took for morose, angst-ridden New Romantic sentiment [“young depressive tears”] were symptoms of the totalitarian state?

    Yeah, spleen [meaning anger] and ideal I think, angst is a part of it, but the picture seems bigger. Strange thing is, I know the lyrics by heart since 40+ years, but I feel I need a reset on them, read them fresh, see if anything new comes up. More later, that’s a promise.


  4. Pingback: Ultravox’s “Rage In Eden” Boxed Set Is Two Of A Perfect Pair [part 7] | Post-Punk Monk

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