With the departure of John Foxx
and the arrival of his replacement Midge Ure
underwent a seismic shift in emphasis, signaled by more than the mere loss of their moniker's exclamation point. Having flirted with lush and lavish synthesized sounds on their third album, Systems of Romance
, the band threw itself whole-heartedly into the burgeoning New Romantic movement. Beginning in June 1980, Ultravox
began releasing a series of seminal singles pooling around alienation and dislocation, taking them into the U.K. singles chart for the first time and keeping them there until their dissolution in 1987. The group's themes became ever more grandiose -- "Vienna"'s crumbling Hapsburg empire, "Reap the Wild Wind"'s horrors and heroism of war, "The Voice" examining the fearsome pull of fascism, "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" spreading terror of nuclear annihilation. All are packed with images so vivid they remain engraved in the minds of anyone old enough to remember the '80s. But that's because one can't hear the songs today without their fabulous videos swirling into view. Best of Ultravox: Sight and Sound
pairs a CD featuring all the Ure
-led band's singles (along with a sole B-side, "White China") with a DVD of 14 of their hits and accompanying videos: "Vienna" defining the New Romantic genre and look, "Wild Wind" paying tribute to the RAF who saved Britain from the Nazi onslaught, and "Dancing" turning a three-minute warning into an epic homage of the life that mankind's leaders seemed set to destroy. A pair of live performances and a Top of the Pops appearance give potent reminders of the band at their early height. For those still drawn to the past and those curious to experience it for themselves, this two-disc set is unbeatable.