Ultravox: Rage In Eden [Steven Wilson Stereo Remix/Instrumental] – US – CD 
Disc 1 – Steven Wilson Stereo Remix
- We Stand Alone 5:33
- Rage In Eden 4:13
- The Thin Wall 5:40
- Stranger Within (Full Length Version) 9:56
- Accent On Youth 4:44
- The Ascent 2:27
- Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again) 4:23
Disc 2 – Steven Wilson Instrumental Remix
- We Stand Alone (Instrumental) 5:33
- Rage In Eden (Instrumental) 4:13
- The Thin Wall (Instrumental) 5:40
- Stranger Within (Full Length Instrumental Version) 9:56
- Accent On Youth (Instrumental) 4:44
- The Ascent (Instrumental) 2:27
- Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again) (Instrumental) 4:23
A few weeks ago I was starting to get antsy about missing the RSD Black Friday Ultravox “Rage In Eden” 2xCD with the Wilson remix and a bonus instrumental disc. The single reliable copy on Discogs from a US dealer for $15.99 for two months had sold and now one had taken its place at $30. Ulp! I started looking further afield. The usual places yielded nothing, but lo and behold, Electric Fetus; Prince’s favorite “wrecka stow” came through, and with flying colors. $13.99 in stock and with shipping, a very Prince-like $19.99! And that disc went from from hitting that button to in my mailbox within 68 hours! An all-time win for Electric Fetus!
The instrumental disc was possibly overkill…until I listened to it. In much the same way that Steven Wilson had allowed more detail to emerge from what was once a dark and smoky recording, the instrumental version of his remix gave new prominence to the musicianship that often played second-fiddle to Midge Ure’s vocals. When listening to “We Stand Alone” kicking off the second disc, I was shocked at how much of the guitar was there to hear without the vocal leading me ears elsewhere. Ure was almost the biggest competition for his own guitar playing, and with his vocals gone we would study the unique tone and attack that he employed on this album.
His playing throughout stayed primarily in the rhythm zone, with taut licks slashing briefly into the mix from all sorts of angles where they were least expected. There is almost no guitar hero posturing from Ure on the album. But the delight of the instrumental disc was in hearing his rhythm and occasional power chord playing spar with Currie’s contributions to the melodic development of “Rage In Eden.”
Ure’s stark chording on the title track without the dominant vocal, became the show with the Morricone-like feel he was imparting to the track hitting a target that was unique in the Ultravox canon. With the music bed mostly programmed rhythms, his guitar was now the star. Hearing the EQ shift in the song’s coda without the vocals was almost unbearably stark and less interesting than the vocal mix was. Surprisingly, some of the MO of the mix was revealed by the presence of the mixed down backing vocals appearing only in this section of the song; the only vocal traces on this disc at all.
But as enjoyable as Ure’s guitars now were, “Rage In Eden” wasn’t an album about guitars at all. After listening dozens of times to the box and this disc, I was struck by the spotlight given to Billy Currie’s violin and viola work throughout. This was the album to hear if one was a fan of Currie’s string playing. While synths were the most important texture, overall, the prominence given to the strings was surprising. And often his glissandos were given a showstopping prominence in the mix; both Plank and Wilson versions.
Warren Cann’s drums were very tightly controlled here, with a reliance on programmed rhythms and lots of very basic beats looping for whole songs. The Thin Wall” and the subsequent “Stranger Within” each had an almost thuddingly simple beat carry through, unvarying, in the songs. On this CD that meant that a 72 BMP-like heartbeat of drums were playing for almost 15 minutes! Of course, “The Thin Wall”had handclaps treated with effects to break up the beat and introduce Krautrock elements that the band reveled in.
With “Stranger Within” as stripped down on drums as the band ever got, the ten minute opus was down to the other three players putting the track through its paces. Once the song hit its midpoint and the long instrumental section got underway [though everything ewas the instrumental section on this CD] It was fun hearing how Cross, Ure, and Currie kept ratcheting up the tension with their interjections. The second most prominent instrument here was Chris Cross’ bass guitar; almost a rare bird on this album where bass synth predominated. His strategic jabs as well as some pointed guitar ganks from Midge ure kept our ears engaged for what was a long time with no complaints, but more than anyone else, this track was Billy Currie’s baby.
His sharp jabs of viola and a wealth of almost percussive attacks on his strings were ludicrously effective at keeping my interest up for the nearly ten minute version of this song. The one I once described as having:
Obviously, this was no longer the case!
The coiled rhythm guitar flexing throughout “Accent On Youth” showed once more the inventive qualities of Ure’s playing throughout the album. I liked hearing him trade off prominence in the cut with Billy Currie, who was definitely playing anchorman on this album. With the elimination of “The Voice” and “I Remember [Death In the Afternoon]” from the running time, this was, along with “We Stand Alone,” the closest to Rock music that this album ever dared to venture. Especially as one of the rare drum fills from Warren Cann underlined here.
The lack of Midge Ure vocals on the astonishingly spartan and minimal “Your Name [Has Slipped My Mind Again]” only served to throw what was on the track, apart from its highly memorable rhythm track, into sharp relief. This meant new prominence on the atmospheric harmonics courtesy of Billy Currie. One aspect of the track that I absolutely noticed for the first time ever with no vocals, was the stark piano chord in the song’s chorus firing in concert with the rhythm slam from Cann. After 42 years of listening I can’t say I ever noticed that detail. Now I can’t un-notice it.
Finally, the lack of multitrack masters for “The Voice” and “I Remember [Death In The Afternoon]” strongly reshaped this disc’s vibe due to their absence. Hearing the bass sequencer and programmed rhythms of “The Thin Wall” kick in following the “click” at the end of the title track is a heady thing for me. As much as the former segue was my favorite moment in all of Ultravox, this rendered the difference in a starkly memorable fashion. And these changes also made the thematic gravitational pull of what was “side two” of the album all the more powerful. With “Stranger Within” now a ten minute black hole at the heart of what was already the darkest and most insular Ultravox album committed to wax, the complexion of “Rage In Eden” was dramatically altered by this instrumental version. And that’s the kind of ride I’m happy to pay for. If you need a copy of this disc, Electric Fetus can still provide one. Just saying.
ooh i can’t wait to hear this- and thanks for the tip-
i went to Electric Fetus online and ordered it too,
ALONG with the ‘Vienna’ RSD2021 which i missed as well…
LikeLiked by 1 person
I also ordered from EF! I wonder how many they have (had) in stock
LikeLiked by 1 person
schwenko – It seems like lots of the regulars here were able to order from EF. It does make me wonder how much stock they had on hand. Well, they killed it by my reckoning. Their fulfillment made my head spin. I will try to remember them going forward in these cases.
LikeLiked by 1 person