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Ultravox: Ultravox!

Album Notes

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. "Saturday 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


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