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Pop - Released October 15, 1980 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released April 6, 2009 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released November 2, 1984 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released October 15, 1982 | Chrysalis Records

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Rock - Released April 6, 1984 | Chrysalis Records

As the title suggests, Ultravox were in a gray mood as they launched into their seventh studio LP, their previous existential angst now pooling around personal anguish. The album's title track was a study in languorous melancholy, where the emotional pain lingered on and on. And why would it ever dissipate, when romance is forever doomed, as "When the Time Comes" exquisitely illustrated? Even "One Small Day," the most musically celebratory song on the set, battles depression but dismally loses the war. No wonder Ultravox were so keen to escape far into the past, with "Man of Two Worlds" taking them back to the gloriously romanticized days of the Celts. The modern world, in contrast, was filled with terrors, both emotional ("A Friend I Call Desire") and global. There was the omnipresent yellow peril to fear; but if "White China" warned of the dangers of creeping communism, the nation sworn to protect its citizens from a Stalinistic embrace proves just as nefarious on "Heart of the Country." Each side is as bad as the other, together threatening the globe with annihilation, with the mini-epic "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" poignantly pointing out the richness of life the world's leaders hold so carelessly in their hands. This was to be Ultravox's final album, at least in this form, and in many ways, the set was the band's perfect epitaph, as lavish musically as it was desolate thematically. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Depeche Mode claimed to be punks with synthesizers, but it was Ultravox! who first showed the kind of dangerous rhythms that keyboards could create. The quintet certainly had their antecedents -- Hawkwind, Roxy Music, and Kraftwerk to name but a few, but still it was the group's 1977 eponymous debut's grandeur (courtesy of producer Eno), wrapped in the ravaged moods and lyrical themes of collapse and decay that transported '70s rock from the bloated pastures of the past to the futuristic dystopias predicted by punk. Epic tales of alienation, disillusion, and disintegration reflected the contemporary holocaust of Britain's collapse, while accurately prophesying the dance through society's cemetery and the graveyards of empires that were to be the Thatcher/Reagan years. "Satday Night in the City of the Dead," "Wide Boys," "The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned," "Dangerous Rhythm," and "Slip Away" all simultaneously bemoaned and celebrated the destruction of Western culture while swaggering boldly through the wreckage; "I Want to Be a Machine" and "My Sex" warned of and yearned for technology's triumph. And it was these apposites and didactic emotions that so pierced the zeitgeist of the day, and kicked open a whole new world of synthesized music. Dangerous rhythms indeed. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 11, 1981 | Chrysalis Records

Following on from the success of Vienna, Ultravox cemented their position as a New Romantic phenomenon with their follow-up, 1981's Rage in Eden. The martial beats and political undertones of "The Thin Wall" single acted as a potent taster for the album, to be joined in the U.K. Top 20 by the even more powerful message of "The Voice." The latter song opened the album, but nothing that followed equaled its strength, its sequencing a flaw in an otherwise excellent set. That said, propulsive numbers like "We Stand Alone" and "I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)," the rebellious angst of "Accent on Youth," the exotic strains of "Stranger Within," and the haunting "Your Name Has Slipped My Mind Again" all contained their own power. And even if the instrumental "The Ascent" harkened back to "Vienna," it was obvious that with Eden, Ultravox was climbing to grand new heights. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Electronic - Released May 25, 2012 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 1983 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released November 16, 2018 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released October 15, 1982 | Chrysalis Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Ha! Ha! Ha! is a bruising album, a tsunami of a set that epitomized the fire and fury of its age. Icy to its core, producer Steve Lillywhite brilliantly captured both the band's urgency and the brittleness of their sound. Like the implosion of gases that ignited the Big Bang, Ha!-Ha!-Ha! hangs in the millisecond before the ensuing explosion, trembling with ferocious tension and fierce anticipation of the coming storm. Much of the set seems frozen in this moment in time and space, lyrically reflected in "Hiroshima Mon Amour," "Man Who Dies Every Day," and "Frozen Ones." Unlike the celebration of destruction that defined their debut set, Ultravox! now stood staring aghast into the abyss, with the manic exuberance of "Rockwrock" emerging not as the exhilarating dance through the death of civilization that many listeners assumed, but the band's panicked response to its collapse. And as fear took hold in the Western world, the band battered themselves against its crumbling walls, ravaged by the artificiality of the society rising amongst its ruins. Even decades on, the sheer ferocity of this set continues to impress. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 4, 2010 | Chrysalis Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

With 1978's Systems of Romance, Ultravox left punk behind and single-handedly blueprinted the entire new romantic movement to come -- well, with a little help from co-producers Conny Planck and Dave Hutchins. Gone was the brittleness of Ha!-Ha!-Ha!, replaced by a rich lushness of sound that would define the forthcoming genre. Shifting from the political to the interpersonal, gone too was the overwhelming sense of looming Armageddon, replaced by more generalized (and mundane) feelings of alienation, "Dislocation," and unease. "Quiet Men" is a Lowry painting brought to life, the chorus of "Slow Motion" a swaying field painted by Renoir, "I Can't Stay Long" a Degas ballet, while "Maximum Acceleration" is as lavish in sound as Botticelli was with paint. The rhythms still remained dangerous, however, and Robin Simon's guitar gives the set a tough edge, but it's the swirling, swooping synths and keyboards that predominate within. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 5, 1981 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released June 9, 1984 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released October 4, 1993 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 1986 | Chrysalis Records

Featuring new drummer Mark Brzezicki (formerly of Big Country), the prosaically titled U-Vox offered more of the same from these by-now-redundant synth stylists. The one exception was the single "All Fall Down," a slightly more imaginative variant on the formula. (The other two singles drawn from the album, "Same Old Story" and "All in One Day," were shallow echoes of the band's earlier releases.) "All Fall Down" was to prove their final chart entry. © Alex Ogg /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 4, 2009 | Chrysalis Records

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Pop - Released November 15, 1982 | Chrysalis Records