Friday, October 19, 2018

SPAZ reviews the VISAGE expanded remaster!!

(Rubellan Remasters)

It is damn near impossible to overestimate the impact this album had on British culture in the ‘80s. The collective known as Visage was inspired by the ideals of the New Romantic movement, which glorified the more glamorous – and flamboyant - aspects of David Bowie, Roxy Music and the Glam scene. When it began in the late ‘70s, the New Romantic movement was more about fashion, socializing with like-minded dreamers, and dancing to the sexiest Glam in town… but that would change soon enough. Musician/DJ Rusty Egan joined forces with scene maker Steve Strange to form a band that would take the New Romantic ethos into the charts. Rusty pulled in his former Rich Kids bandmate Midge Ure. Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie climbed aboard as well. That is when Visage was truly born.

     If Punk was a reaction to the excesses of Prog, Hard Rock and Top 40 then the New Romantic scene was a reaction to the rough and raw approach of Punk. The sound of the New Romantic movement was – by and large – Synthpop with glossier lipstick and better hair. The music was geared for the dancefloor but was catchy enough for the charts. Since the masterminds of Visage were also the creators of the New Romantic movement, they knew what they wanted to say and how they wanted it to sound. Ure, Currie, Egan, Strange and various co-horts began recording what would eventually become their self-titled debut full-length. And VISAGE is a wondrous album to behold.

“Fade To Grey” is a unique slice of Electronic Pop with an instantly catchy hook. However, it is more than just a Pop song – there is a mysterious quality to it that is utterly unique. Celebratory yet also slightly somber and distant, the song remains their most popular track. In fact, Midge Ure continues to perform it in his live set to this day.

But what about the rest of the album? If you can imagine a smooth blend of Kraftwerk and Bowie inspired futurism with stabs of Funk, dollops of Rock, and a tip of the hat to Disco then you’ve got an inclination of what you are in store for. Nearly 40 years on, the album still sounds as confident and bold as it did back then. The opening track, “Visage,” is grand introduction, giving way to a more minimalistic (but equally enchanting) “Blocks On Blocks”. “The Dancer” struts along with a Glam-inspired beat. “Tar” mixes Disco with experimentalism. “Mind Of Toy” is skewered Pop perfection. And those are just the tip of the VISAGE iceberg. While Gary Numan may have arrived at the same musical destination first, on this album, Visage added a more human element to the ‘man vs. machine music’ formula.

This long-awaited Rubellan Remasters edition of VISAGE combines the original album with additional bonus material including remixes and a few non-album gems including “We Move,” which is most certainly influenced by Bowie’s mid to late ‘70s output. Fans have been demanding an expanded version of this album and it has finally arrived! Rejoice, Blitz kids!

Oh, and going back to the importance of this musical project: without Steve Strange, Rusty Egan and Visage, it is most certain that we would never have been able to experience the likes of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Culture Club and Ultravox Mk II (this project inspired Midge Ure to join Currie in a revamped Ultravox). And yes, without this musical collective, Band Aid would have remained just an idea in Bob Geldof’s head…

Keep on truckin',
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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