To Vienna and Back: Midge Ure’s “Orchestrated”

To Vienna and Back: Midge Ure’s “Orchestrated”

Last week, there was an awesome music release. From Ultravox, Visage and Rich Kids to his success as a solo artist, Midge Ure has a brilliant discography. Orchestrated is a glorious collection of orchestral re-works of Ultravox classics and gems from Midge Ure’s solo career. The collection both maintains the blissful and epic sound of the originals and helps to bring a new, soundtrack feel to some of Midge Ure’s best work.

Ultravox 2.0: the classics in a new light

Album cover of Ultravox 1977.
Album cover of Ultravox’s debut album. 1977.

As an 80’s synthpop fan, I was very eager to check out the new recordings of the Ultravox classics. Clearly, I was not disappointed!

The Ultravox’s “Hymn” of 1982 was upbeat, charged and oozes synthesisers, whereas the orchestrated version of the track has a chilling, Phantom of the Opera vibe. Vocally, Midge Ure’s voice is powerful and helps to give the track that dramatic feel. Here, the partnership of the synthesiser sound and the chilling strings helps one to revisit the 1982 classic but then be taken on a completely different journey of emotion.

In the orchestral recording of “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” the verses’ most striking features are the understated piano melodies and Ure’s delicate vocals. This is soon followed by the soft string arrangements, which really help to lift the chorus from the rest of the song and give it that epic build up. “Death in the Afternoon” and “Reap the Wild Wind” on the other hand retain the tempo of the originals. Yet, they are given a modern, crisp gloss. Wonderful!

Now onto “Vienna”, Ultravox’s biggest hit. Come on, no Ultravox retrospective or review would be complete without talking about this classic! Ure’s vocals on the new recording are even more expressive and haunting than those in the original. His vocals are amazing here especially! Of course, a song with such an epic build up would be perfect for the orchestral treatment. When you think “Vienna” could not sound any more glorious, it does.

Ultravox's Brilliant Tour. 2012.
Ultravox’s Brilliant Tour. Berlin 2012.

Midge Ure: The solo artist

Orchestrated not only re-visits the work of Ultravox, but also takes you on an epic journey through Midge Ure’s enduring solo career.

Midge Ure at E-Werk. Cologne, 2012.
Midge Ure at E-Werk. Cologne, 2012.

“Breathe” is so sweet and pulls on the heartstrings, and they’re not the only strings being played here (okay, that joke sounded better in my head, I promise!). Jokes apart, the strings are gorgeous here! The varied vocal pitches are also wonderful. Midge Ure can still hit those high notes, and beautifully so! Check out the original breathe below:

“If I Was” is another shining star from the album. Its catchy lyrics and rhythm make for enjoyable listening, especially with those jumping strings!

Relatively speaking, “Fragile” is a recent addition to Midge Ure’s stellar discography with its original released in 2014. It is the ultimate song of vulnerability, and the sweeping strings make it worthy of a film climax. “Ordinary Man” on the other hand, is a new track that was written for this album. It is so blissful yet eerie. Listen out for that epic build-up once again, it is glorious!

Final verdict?

Orchestrated makes you appreciate the hits you know and love in a whole new way! He has either changed the tempo completely, or (in the case of the Ultravox tracks) by giving the very 80’s aspects of the originals a modern, soundtrack gloss. It is truly worthy of getting goose bumps over!

Perfect time to enjoy the entire Ultravox and Midge Ure catalogue!

Midge Ure on tour.
Midge Ure at the Here and Now Tour, 2011.

If you want to check out another synthpop review, check out my review of The Punishment of Luxury by another 80’s giant, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Until the next post,

From Sophia with Love x

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