Our top 10 Ultravox songs list looks at the body of work of an English band best known for its contribution to the synth-pop, new wave scene. The band was formed in 1974 initially going under the moniker Tiger Lily. At the core of the band’s formation was singer John Foxx. Despite his departure from Ultravox to concentrate on a solo career in 1979, John Foxx’s impact on the evolution of the band in the ‘70s cannot be understated.
Ultravox went ahead to achieve even greater success under frontman Midge Ure. During his tenure, the band rose to even greater commercial and mainstream success. The band (now defunct) boasts eleven studio albums and a number of extended plays. Five of Ultravox’s albums have graced the top 10 on the UK Albums Chart while earning the band massive commercial success.
In 1977, Ultravox issued their debut studio album Ultravox! The album was co-produced by the band members in conjunction with musician Brian Eno and the Grammy Award-winning record producer Steve Lillywhite. Other artists who have worked with Steve Lillywhite include Simple Minds, Dave Matthews Band, The Killers, Joan Armatrading, and The Psychedelic Furs. The album Ultravox! featured a number of musical gems including “My Sex,” “The Lonely Hunter,” and “Dangerous Rhythm.”
Ultravox worked once more with record producer Steve Lillywhite in producing their sophomore studio album Ha!-Ha!-Ha! The album didn’t score high on the mainstream charts. However, songs like “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” ROckWrok,” and “The Frozen Ones” are some of the most impressive picks from the album. Ha!-Ha!-Ha! was soon after followed up by Ultravox’s 1978 third studio album Systems of Romance.
Systems of Romance saw Ultravox work with record producers Dave Hutchins (who worked with Bonfire, Brian Eno, and Ray Russell) and Conny Plank (who worked with Kraftwerk, the Eurythmics, and D.A.F.). “Slow Motion,” “Quiet Men,” and “Just for a Moment” are some of the popular songs from the album. Systems of Romance would however mark the end of John Foxx’s tenure as the band’s lead vocalist—John went ahead to pursue a solo career which was quite a success.
In 1980, the band issued its fourth studio album Vienna. The album was Ultravox’s first under the new frontman Midge Ure. Vienna saw Ultravox issue a blend of new wave and synth-pop soundscapes with tinges of post-punk influences. The album was a massive success and remained to be the band’s most impressive record.
Vienna marked Ultravox’s first album to make it to the UK Albums Chart peaking at the third spot. The album spent a total of seventy-two weeks on the chart. Vienna went ahead to climb to position one hundred and sixty-four on the Billboard 200. The album was a commercial success earning platinum certification in New Zealand and the UK. “Vienna,” “Passing Strangers,” “Astradyne,” and “Private Lives” are some of the best Ultravox songs from the album.
Ultravox returned in 1981 with their fifth studio album Rage in Eden. The album was issued through Chrysalis Records under the production of Conny Plank. Rage in Eden was a mainstream success rising to the fourth spot on the UK Albums Chart. The album also climbed to position one hundred and forty-four on the Billboard 200. Rage in Eden was certified gold in New Zealand and the UK. “The Thin Wall,” “The Voice,” and “We Stand Alone” are some of the most popular songs by Ultravox from the album.
Quartet, issued in 1982, marked the band’s sixth studio album. The album was issued through Chrysalis Records under the production of George Martin. Other artists who have worked with George Martin include The Beatles, Ringo Starr, Cilia Black, and Gerry and the Pacemakers. Quartet rose to the sixth spot on the UK Albums Chart.
The album also climbed to position sixty-one on the Billboard 200 Chart (this is the highest any Ultravox album ever climbed). Quartet was a commercial success earning a gold certification in the UK. The album was gold-certified in the UK. “Hymn,” “Vision in Blue,” “Reap the Wild Wind,” and “We Came to Dance” are some of the best Ultravox songs from the album.
Ultravox went ahead to issue their seventh studio album Lament. The album was quite a momentous record reaching position eight on the UK Albums Chart. Lament also graced the Billboard 200 Chart peaking at number one hundred and fifteen. “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes,” “One Small Day,” “White China,” and “Lament” are some of the musical gems featured on this record.
In 1986, Ultravox issued their eighth studio album U-Vox. The album saw Ultravox rekindle a production relationship with record producer Conny Plank. U-Vox climbed to the ninth spot on the UK Albums Chart. This was Ultravox’s last album to feature in the top 10 on the UK Albums Chart. U-Vox was gold certified in the UK—the album was Ultravox’s final album also to reach such commercial feats. “Same Old Story,” “All Fall Down,” and “All in One Day” are some of the best Ultravox songs from the album.
The band went on a hiatus in the late ‘80s only to reunite in 1992. Ultravox returned in 1993 with their ninth studio album Revelation. The album was produced by Rod Gammons (who worked with Mark Morrison, Beverley Knight, and Rob Reynolds. Revelation saw the band work with Tony Fennell (who worked with other artists including Enuff Znuff, Luxx, and Brenda Edwards) on the lead vocals. Unfortunately, the album was a commercial and mainstream flop. However, the album featured impressive songs such as “I Am Alive,” “The Closer I Get to You,” and “No Turning Back.”
Ingenuity, issued in 1994, marked the band’s tenth studio album. The album was produced by Billy Currie in conjunction with Charlie Francis. Ingenuity featured English hard rock singer Sam Blue on the lead vocals. The album also failed to impress on the mainstream charts. However, the album is home to musical gems such as “There Goes a Beautiful World,” “Majestic,” and “Who’ll Save You” which are some of the top musical gems featured on the album.
Later in 2012, Ultravox issued their eleventh and final studio album Brilliant. The album saw Ultravox make a comeback to the UK Albums Chart peaking at position twenty-one. The album is home to several musical gems including “Brilliant,” “Live,” and “Satellite.”
#10- Same Old Story
Welcoming us to the top 10 Ultravox songs list is the luscious hit “Same Old Story.” The song is featured on the band’s eighth studio album U-Vox. “Same Old Story” is among the song Ultravox heavily invested some efforts to make. The song featured the contribution of the British jazz-funk Beggar and Co on the brass.
Singer Carol Kenyon (who has worked with Heaven 17, Paul Hardcastle, and the Dexys Midnight Runners) is also featured on the backing vocals in the chorus of this song. “Same Old Story” was a mainstream success rising to position thirty-one on the UK Singles Chart. The song features a music video directed by band members Midge Ure and Chris Cross.
#9- Hiroshima Mon Amour
“Hiroshima Mon Amour” is by far one of the most impressive songs issued by Ultravox during John Foxx’s era as the band’s lead vocalist. The song is featured on the band’s sophomore studio album Ha!-Ha!-Ha! John Foxx also plays the guitar on “Hiroshima Mon Amour.”
Additional instrumentation was employed to make this track a success. C.C., a member of the punk/goth band Gloria Mundi played the saxophone on the song “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” While the song never made it big in the mainstream success, it remains one of the band’s fan-favorite picks of all time.
#8- The Thin Wall
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Ultravox songs list is the imposing hit “The Thin Wall.” The song was issued as one of the singles of the band’s fifth studio album Rage in Eden. “The Thin Wall” remains one of Ultravox’s most successful singles having reached position fourteen on the UK Singles Chart. The song featured a music video directed by Russell Mulcahy. The Australian film/music director has also worked with tons of music artists including AC/DC, The Human League, The Stranglers, The Vapors, Elton John, and Rod Stewart.
#7- One Small Day
While most of the songs by Ultravox are synth-driven, our seventh pick rewrites the rules (albeit in a nice way). The song is a guitar-driven ballad that proves too luscious to leave out on the top 10 Ultravox songs. “One Small Day” was issued as a single and featured on the band’s seventh studio album Lament.
The song finds the band exploring the theme of courage in the face of adversity. In this song, Midge Ure asks, “How many times have you let depression win the fight.” “One Small Day” features a music video directed by band members Midge Ure and Chris Cross. The song graced the UK Singles Chart reaching position twenty-seven.
#6- The Voice
Ranking sixth on our top 10 Ultravox songs list is the luscious hit “The Voice.” The song was issued as a single in 1981 and featured on the band’s fifth studio album Rage in Eden. “The Voice” was a mainstream success having reached position sixteen on the UK Singles Chart. The song also climbed to position twenty-seven and twenty-nine on the Irish and New Zealand Singles Chart, respectively. “The Voice” features two music videos; one directed by the band members Midge Ure and Chris Cross, and the other by the Australian film/music director Russell Mulcahy.
#5- All Stood Still
Our fifth pick, “All Stood Still” takes us to the band’s fourth and most successful fourth studio album Vienna. The song was issued as the fourth and final single of the album Vienna. “All Stood Still” was a mainstream success reaching position two on the UK Singles Chart. This marked Ultravox’s second single to make it to the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart.
“All Stood Still” also climbed to the sixty-ninth spot on the German Singles Chart. The single earned Ultravox mainstream success having been certified silver in the UK. “All Stood Still” is among the earliest emblems of Ultravox’s musicianship under lead vocalist Midge Ure who joined the band following the departure of original member John Foxx.
#4- Reap the Wild Wind
“Reap the Wild Wind” is among the anthemic fan-favorite tracks issued by Ultravox. The song is featured on the band’s sixth studio album Quartet. Lead vocalist Midge Ure went ahead to cite “Reap the Wild Wind” to be a song all about melody and rhythm. Midge teamed up with bassist Chris Cross in directing the music video of this song.
“Reap the Wild Wind” was a mainstream success peaking at the twelfth spot on the UK Singles Chart. The song also climbed to the sixty-ninth spot on the ARIA Singles Chart. “Reap the Wild Wind” is the only song by Ultravox to have reached the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The song rose to position seventy-one on the Billboard Hot 100.
We return to the band’s sixth studio album Quartet where we find the third pick of our top 10 Ultravox songs, “Hymn.” The song has lyrics that reference a protagonist who’s seeking glory and power. “Hymn” is among the songs that give us a taste of Midge Ure’s clear, fervent, and rangy vocal delivery.
The song was a mainstream success having reached position eleven on the UK Singles Chart. “Hymn” also achieved some commercial success having earned silver certification in the UK. The song has been covered by several artists including Tina Cousins, Lunatica, and Edguy.
#2- Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
“Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” is among the top musical gems from Ultravox’s music catalog. The song is featured on the band’s seventh studio album Lament. As cited by Midge Ure, the song “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” had its lyrics inspired by the book On the Beach by Nevil Shute.
The song was released in 1984 at the peak of nuclear war-related anxiety. Thanks to its relatability, “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” climbed to the third spot on the UK Singles Chart. The song also climbed to the fifty-eighth spot on the ARIA Singles Chart, missing entry into the Billboard Hot 100 Chart by eight spots. The song features a music video directed by band members Midge Ure and Chris Cross.
Number one on our top 10 Ultravox songs list is the synth-pop hit “Vienna.” The song was released as a single from the band’s fourth studio album of the same name. “Vienna” has its lyrics referencing a love affair in the German City of Vienna. The song feels a tad bit orchestral owing to the impressive grand piano tunes and affectionate viola solo by musician Billy Currie.
“Vienna” rose to the second spot on the UK Singles Chart only unable to surpass the hit “Shaddap You Face” by Joe Dolce. The song went ahead to rise atop the singles chart in Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, and the Netherlands. “Vienna” was a commercial success—the song was certified gold in the UK. The song has been covered by several artists including Clawfinger, Jane McDonald, Russel Watson, and comedian Vic Reeves.
Top 10 Ultravox Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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