Preview – Visage

The summer always tends to be a bit quiet for new releases, which gives us a chance to roll back a few months and pick up some of the things we missed at the time. Here’s a great one, from January – Visage, with their latest compilation The Wild Life: The Best of Extended Versions and Remixes 1978 to 2015. Sounds fantastic!

Preview – Visage

Here are a couple of sentences that I never thought I’d write. Following the sad and untimely death of Steve Strange earlier this year, Visage have now released their final album Demons to Diamonds. Here’s Clubscene:

Chart for stowaways – 4 July 2015

It will take a couple of weeks to catch up, but here’s the first of the new rejigged albums charts:

  1. Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?
  2. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source
  3. Camouflage – Greyscale
  4. MG – MG
  5. Röyksopp – The Inevitable End
  6. The Other Two – The Other Two & You
  7. Visage – Visage
  8. Röyksopp & Robyn – Do It Again
  9. Various Artists – Gri Balkon – I Had a Dream
  10. The All Seeing I – Pickled Eggs & Sherbet

Music for the Masses 31 – 9 February 2005

It’s always a pleasure to be able to hide the odd nine-minute gem in the middle of a radio show, such as the brilliant Virus Mix of Everything But The Girl‘s Lullaby of Clubland. Surprisingly, the webcam shows me looking relaxed in the extreme.

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Show 31: Wed 9 Feb 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Massive Attack.

  • The Grid – Heartbeat
  • Trance Atlantic Air-Waves – Chase
  • Sylver – Take Me Back
  • The Human League – Love Me Madly?
  • Everything But The Girl – Lullaby of Clubland (Virus Mix)
  • The Postal Service – We Will Become Silhouettes
  • Inspiral Carpets – Saturn 5
  • Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
  • Camouflage – The Great Commandment
  • Visage – Fade to Grey
  • Pet Shop Boys – How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously? (Ragga Zone Remix)
  • The Orb – Once More
  • Massive Attack – Karmacoma
  • Mirwais feat. Craig Wedren – Miss You
  • Lemon Jelly – The Slow Train
  • Moby – Lift Me Up
  • Mylo – Destroy Rock and Roll
  • Ron Grainer – Doctor Who Theme
  • Massive Attack – Butterfly Caught (Paul Daley Remix)
  • Kings of Convenience – Know-How

Chart for stowaways – 20 June 2015

It’s still number two, it’s still the Chart for stowaways! Here are this week’s albums:

  1. Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?
  2. Camouflage – Greyscale
  3. MG – MG
  4. Erlend Øye – Legao
  5. The Other Two – The Other Two & You
  6. Visage – Visage
  7. Sparks – Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat
  8. The All Seeing I – Pickled Eggs & Sherbet
  9. Alpinestars – BASIC
  10. Various Artists – Gri Balkon – I Had a Dream

Preview – Visage

This is the last of our belated previews for now – it came out about a month ago. After a fairly short and questionable career, Visage disappeared from the public eye for a very long time, but are now back with a new single called Dreamer I Know from an album called Hearts and Knives.

More surprisingly, it’s actually quite good. OK, it owes a lot to Duran Duran, but even so…

Live – July 2013

Here are five of the most interesting live acts touring in the next few months, including some Very Big Artists…

The Human League

Already well established as a slightly retro but extremely good live act, The League are visiting Leicester, London, Tynemouth, Tatton Park, and Bingley in the coming weeks. What they’re not doing is going to the USA, as the dates there have suffered the fate of their recent Aussie tour and been cancelled.

Full list of dates at Songkick

 

El Perro del Mar

A Swedish pop singer who I saw perform a few years back and was very impressed by, the unusually named Horse of the Sea can be found performing at home in Sweden, Germany, and the UK.

Full list of dates at Songkick

 

New Order

Well, two or three of them at least. Coming up across the USA and Canada over the next couple of months.

Full list of dates at Songkick

 

Visage

Back out of the 1980s, and hopefully doing Fade to Grey at least once per show, Visage can be found in the next few weeks around the UK.

Full list of dates at Songkick

 

Depeche Mode

To be found pretty much everywhere over the next few months, including: Italy; Czech Republic; Poland; Lithuania; Belarus; USA; Canada; USA again; UAE; UK; Ireland; UK again; France; Germany; Denmark; Germany again; Netherlands; Norway; Spain; France again; Belgium; UK again; France again; Germany again; Slovakia; Austria; Czech Republic again; etc etc etc.

Full list of dates at Songkick

Visage – Mind of a Toy

Back in October, I was quite rightly berated by a reader for being very rude about Visage by Visage. I’ve owned the Fade to Grey 7″ single and the full LP for over a decade now (as a student I used to scour the Welsh record fairs looking for £1 records, often just because I liked the artwork). My full review of the album is here.

So I looked for some way to redress the balance, and discovered I seem to also have the Mind of a Toy 12″ in my iTunes library

I kicked off by listening again to Mind of a Toy, and concluded that my original feelings were correct (it is, as I said in the album review, “pretty good”). It’s got a nice melody, and the electronics in the background aren’t quite as challenging as some of the other tracks on the album. I’m not particularly blown away by the lyrics (in general it’s a slightly overdrawn metaphor about what happens when you outgrow your toys and throw them away), but it’s a good song nonetheless.

On the 12″, you get an “extended” five minute Dance Mix. Remember, these were the days when a 12″ mix just added an instrumental section or two. If you love the song, that’s a good thing; if not then you might struggle, but either way I think I can be forgiven for not getting too excited about this version. It’s still “pretty good”; just five minutes long rather than four and a half.

Unusually for the 1980s, you get two b-sides (that’s “bonus tracks” for any kids that are reading. Actually, does that help? You’re probably all listening to illegal downloads on your phones…)

The first is We Move, again the Dance Mix. Actually, I have to take issue with this slightly – I’m not the world’s greatest dancer, but I really can’t see myself dancing to this. But then, I wasn’t really particularly aware of events in 1981, so I don’t think I would have been doing a lot of dancing anyway. We Move mainly repeats “we move” and “we dance” for six minutes or so. There’s a nice bobbly bass line going on, and a lot of rock style drum fills, with some warbly electronics and guitar effects in the background. Generally pleasant, but nothing to dance home about.

The final track is one of their more experimental moments, Frequency 7, yet again slightly improbably a Dance Mix. It’s difficult to know what to say without having heard the six previous frequencies in context, but it is a little dull to say the least. It sounds basically like a studio jam, where someone has played the drums while someone else has noodled with a synthesizer over the top. Occasionally they’ve had a bit of fun with FX boxes, adding a flanged drum breakdown or the like, but generally I struggled a bit with this one.

All in all, then, if this were 1981 and I’d been standing in a vinyl listening booth, I’d probably have stuck with the album version, and spent my money on something else. Pleasant enough though.

If you want to recreate this single, you actually need to buy their second album The Anvil, in its 2008 reissued and remastered form – available here on Amazon.co.uk. Start with track 15, then jump back to 10, and finish with track 11.

Visage – Visage

Let me start with a confession. I don’t know much about Visage. I don’t even like them that much. But I do own a copy of their debut album Visage, and as an interesting challenge I thought I might listen to it, and try to write a review based on what I heard.

So a very long time ago, before I’d even got into short trousers, Midge Ure out of Ultravox and Steve Strange worked together with some other people on the album I’m holding in my hands. It’s a great package – the artwork is absolutely beautiful, and it yielded three massive hit singles, including Mind of a Toy, oh and another song called Fade to Grey.

The album Visage by Visage opens with a track called Visage, which it seems was the third single. It’s nothing special, although I can hear traces of Gary Numan in it. It mixes into the bloody awful second track Blocks on Blocks. The third track The Dancer is similarly charm-free, an uninteresting instrumental, and this is followed by their original debut single Tar, which wasn’t a hit, probably because it’s dreadful.

At the end of side one, though, you might be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a different album, as Fade to Grey finally arrives. Even from its opening chords you can tell it’s going to be amazing. The synth bass line comes in, and shivers are already running up and down your spine. “Devenir gris,” says the probably very lovely French lady. A forlorn and hopeless vocal breaks in and drives the whole song forward. Seriously, leaving subjectivity aside for a moment, Fade to Grey is clearly one of the best songs ever written.

Why couldn’t the rest of Visage have been like this? All the dross and filler could have been kept for the next release. They could easily have filled up the entire album with ten different versions of this one track – it would have been considerably better and nobody would have complained.

Side two begins with another attempt to channel Gary Numan with Malpaso Man. I’d been assuming that Numan must have been pretty popular at this stage and this whole project was conceived as an attempt to borrow from that popularity, but from a quick bit of research it looks as though half of his band turned up to work on this album, which might explain a lot.

After the sea of dross that constituted the first half of this album, it’s therefore a bit of a surprise when their second hit Mind of a Toy turns up, and also turns out to be pretty good. You can see why the album sold so well. LP buyers of the early eighties must have heard the amazing single followed by the pretty good single, and must have been totally hoodwinked into buying the full album. How disappointed they must have been.

Later tracks are uninspired – Moon Over Moscow is a pleasant enough instrumental, although admittedly it does feel as though it’s trying (and entirely failing) to channel some kind of Russian or Cossack inspired melody. Visa-age is only slightly less dreadful and pointless than its title might suggest. Finally, Fade to Grey‘s b-side The Steps is a pleasant enough closing to the marginally better second half of the album.

On balance, then, let’s never mention this album again. Let’s each go and buy ten Fade to Grey and call that an album instead. It will be much, much better.

Let’s do it! Click here, and here, then here, and after that here and here, and that’s side one done. Then for side two, click here, here, here, here, and finally here. You’ll find it’s pretty good.