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Entry updated 12 April 2018. Tagged: Music.

UK synth-pop band, who as "Ultravox!" (with exclamation mark) released a first eponymous album Ultravox! (1977). A modishly alienated work that uses synthesizers in a doomy and rather melodramatic manner, it nevertheless achieves some atmospheric moments, as in the urban noir of "Saturday Night In The City of the Dead", or the Robot-themed "I Want To Be A Machine". This last song, one of the band's early successes, situates itself in a subordinate relationship to Kraftwerk's cyborg electronica ("die mensch-maschine kissed me on my eyes"). The follow-up album Ha!-Ha!-Ha! (1977) (this and all subsequent releases were as by Ultravox with no exclamation mark) contains some effective post-apocalyptic wildernesses (see Post-Holocaust): "The Frozen Ones" and "Fear in the Western World". The band's third album Systems of Romance (1978), perhaps their best, continues the mood of stylish alienation, not least on the eerie ghost-story track "When You Walk Through Me". Lack of commercial success led to the 1979 departure of lead singer John Foxx (1947-    ), and his replacement in the following year by Midge Ure (1953-    ), under whose aegis the band went on to enjoy chart popularity with a number of sometimes pretentious electronic anthems which for the most part had nothing to do with science fiction. However, the surreal "All Stood Still" from the post-Foxx album Vienna (1980) suggests the shutdown of civilization while "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" from Lament (1984) deals with a nuclear power plant meltdown; "All Fall Down" from U-Vox (1986) deals somewhat tritely ("When I was a boy there's a dream that I had / That a war if it's fought was for good against bad") with fears of an impending World War Three. [AR/DRL]


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