Monday, 20 May 2013

Cassette experiment day 78 - Visage 'Visage'

Do you ever take five minutes at work to ponder your career path? Is the job you’re doing now the one you thought you’d be doing when you had your little talk with your careers master or mistress all those years ago?

I’ve had a pretty strange career path myself – if I’d only passed my ‘A’-levels I’ve no doubt that my place at Stirling University would have led to a long and sparkling career in accountancy. Exam failure took me down a far more chequered and interesting route to the exciting job I do today. (Although not actually today, because even though you’re probably reading this on Monday, I’m actually writing it on Sunday).

I wonder how formerly pointy sideburned Scot Midge Ure (O.B.E.) saw his career path when growing up in Cambuslang? Did he foresee his time in criminally under-rated pop band Slik, who had a number one single with ‘Forever and ever’? Or his spell with former Sex Pistols in The Rich Kids? Or Ultravox? Or his brief interlude with Thin Lizzy? Or writing a multi-million selling charity single with the man who wrote ‘Mary of the fourth form’?

What a strange and interesting musical journey our Midge has been on!

Somewhere in between The Rich Kids and Ultravox and a little bit during Thin Lizzy, Midge and Rich Kids band mate Rusty Egan joined forces with members of Ultravox (Billy Currie) and Magazine (John McGeoch, Dave Formula and Barry Adamson) and a night club host (Steve Strange) to form Visage.

Visage’s first album, the imaginatively titled ‘Visage’ was part of the early soundtrack to what was known then, but is hardly ever referred to now, as the ‘New Romantic’ movement. This album was recorded before, but released slightly after, the first outing of Ultravox with Midge as lead singer, ‘Vienna’.

Tunes from both of these albums were firm favourites in what was pretty much Sunderland’s only ‘New Romantic’ type venue (don’t snigger, it really did exist), ‘Heroes’. A place where you could quite happily go at age 16 or 17 (but officially 18) and dance the night away to tracks from both of these albums as well as early favourites from the B-52s, Spizz Energi, Spandau Ballet and The Human League - wearing a baggy white shirt and very dodgy plus-fours that you’d made on your Mam’s best Singer sewing machine.

‘Mind of a toy’, my first encounter with Visage is one of my favourites here and is far superior to the better known ‘Fade to grey’ largely due to the employment of one of my favourite devices, a musical box. Early single ‘Tar’ also features – I was never sure whether this was meant to be a pro or anti smoking song and it’s still difficult to tell.

There are some lesser known wonders present too though – ‘Moon over Moscow’, ‘Blocks on blocks’ and ‘Malpaso man’ all still sound fantastic. The final track, slightly detached from all the others is a slightly out of place slower piece similar to David Bowie’s ‘Crystal Japan’.

This cassette (and a 12” single of ‘Mind of a toy’) have remained with me throughout my unusual career path. Thankfully the plus-fours haven’t.
Label – Polydor
Year – 1980