Ultravox: A Brief History
Ultravox is a British band known for their cutting-edge electronic pop which drove the New Wave movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This article will give you a brief history of the band, but more information can be found by taking music classes which can be found at this site.
In 1974, while working on a degree in music, Dennis Leigh formed a band called Tiger Lily. The members were himself as lead vocalist, Chris Allen (bass guitar), Warren Cann (drums), and Stevie Shears (guitar). Billie Currie, a violinist, joined the band later that same year.
The punk scene was huge in Great Britain at the time and David Bowie was king. In order for the band to make it, they needed to set themselves apart. Tiger Lily searched for an original sound and decided a name change was in order. Not only did they seek new band names, but Dennis Leigh took the name John Foxx and the bass guitarist Chris Allen renamed himself Chris Cross. The band would not actually settle on the group name Ultravox until they were working on their first album with Island Records.
Ultravox signed with Island Records in 1976 and released their first album, the self-titled “Ultravox!,” in 1977. The album was a failure and the band was labeled as unoriginal.
Ultravox returned later that same year with a new album, “Ha!-Ha!-Ha!” The album failed to reach the United Kingdom charts. Island Records dropped the group. Although the album wasn’t a success, its songs hinted at a new artistic direction for the band. One of the album’s songs was one of the first to utilize a drum machine.
In early 1978, the band realized Stevie Shears wasn’t meshing with their new sound. Robin Simon replaced him. Ultravox released its third album, “Systems of Romance,” this same year. The sound of this album was dominated by synthesizers. Despite rave reviews, this album didn’t do well. Foxx decided to take his talents and go solo. Simon also left. Midge Ure replaced both members.
Chrysalis Records signed Ultravox and their next album, “Vienna,” was released in 1980. It became one of the most successful and acclaimed albums of the year. The album peaked at No. 2 on the charts and boasted three singles making the top 10.
Ultravox’s next three albums, “Rage in Eden,” “Quartet” and “Lament” were smash hits. Fans loved the band’s largely electronic sound. The high would not last, however. After a short hiatus in 1986, the band reconnected. Cann was fired and the next album, “U-Vox,” was described as unfocused. In 1987, Ultravox decided to call it quits.
In 2008, Cann, Cross, Curie and Ure brought Ultravox back together to tour. In 2011, the band announced they would release a new album in May of 2012.
If you like electronic music, audio production schools have classes which can teach you how to create your own original sound.