Friday, September 18, 2015

"Reap the Wild Wind" by Ultravox

Song#:  1405
Date:  04/09/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  71
Weeks:  5
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This British band's origins started in 1974 as Tiger Lily, but by 1976 they were a solid unit that would sign with Island Records as Ultravox! Over the course of three albums (and minus the exclamation), the band did little to impress record buyers despite being a popular live act. They were on the verge of calling it quits when three members decided to soldier on and hired a new lead singer in Midge Ure. Their fourth album, "Vienna," was their breakthrough in the UK with the title track single reaching #2 and the album hitting #3. Their next album was also a Top 10 hit, but in the US they were virtually ignored. Their sixth album, the George Martin produced "Quartet," finally got them a little recognition in the US when this single reached #27 at Mainstream Rock and crossed over to the pop chart (#12 UK). It would end up being their only song to reach the US pop chart. However, in the UK they continued to have hit songs and albums until their initial breakup in 1988.

ReduxReview:  Why oh why did "Vienna" not catch on in the US?? Ugh! It's such a great song and a synthpop classic. It's not a conventional pop song, but that is what makes it great. It was their biggest hit in the UK and #1 in at least three other European countries, yet the US just didn't get it. Apparently what we did get was this single which briefly rode the chart. It's got a nice cinematic sound and is one of their better songs, but it's no "Vienna." It's not even as good as their other main hit "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" (#3 UK). While those songs have lived on past their time, this one had fallen to the wayside and I can understand why. It's a good tune, just not a great one.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although this was their only US chart entry, the band is more famous for two other songs: "Vienna" and "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes". These two UK hits have been on several 80s compilations and have become more popular in the US over time. "Vienna" is also famous for its video which used 1949's film noir "The Third Man" as inspiration. 2) Lead singer Midge Ure maintained a solo career while in Ultravox.  His 1985 single "If I Was" became a UK #1 hit. He left the band in 1988 and continued his solo career. He scored a few more UK chart entries and even briefly appeared on the US pop chart in 1989 with "Dear God" (#95). Perhaps his biggest moment in music was being the co-writer of the 1984 UK charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas." The song remains the second biggest selling single in UK history, only surpassed by Elton John's Princess Diana tribute "Candle in the Wind 1997."


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