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Vienna is the fourth studio album by British new wave band Ultravox, first released on Chrysalis Records on 11 July 1980. The album was the first made by Ultravox with their best-known line-up, after Midge Ure had taken over as lead vocalist and guitarist following the departures of John Foxx and Robin Simon, and it was also the group's first release for Chrysalis. Vienna was produced by renowned German producer Conny Plank who had also produced Ultravox's previous album Systems of Romance, and mixed at Plank's studio near Cologne, Germany. In terms of sales, the album had a slow start, but the release in January 1981 of the title track as the third single from the album heralded the band's commercial breakthrough worldwide and led to healthy sales throughout 1981. Vienna peaked at number 3 in the UK Albums Chart and reached the top ten in Australia, New Zealand and several European countries.

Ultravox - Vienna.png
Studio album by
Released11 July 1980
RecordedFebruary 1980
StudioRAK Studios (London)
Ultravox chronology
Three into One
Rage in Eden
Singles from Vienna
  1. "Sleepwalk"
    Released: 16 June 1980
  2. "Passing Strangers"
    Released: 3 October 1980
  3. "Vienna"
    Released: 2 January 1981
  4. "All Stood Still"
    Released: 20 May 1981

Ultravox effectively changed pace, style and audience with the arrival of Ure, who had already participated in the formation of Visage with Currie. Many different styles are in use on the album; "Astradyne" is a long instrumental featuring sweeping, majestic synthesizer arrangements throughout, while "Mr. X" is a simpler, much sparser Kraftwerk pastiche. The lyrics to the album's songs were mainly written by Ure and drummer Warren Cann, who also takes a rare lead vocal on "Mr. X".

Vienna was remastered and re-issued on CD in 2000 on the EMI Gold label. This release also included a selection of B-sides from the album's singles as bonus tracks as well as the promotional video for the "Vienna" single. The definitive version of the Vienna album was released in 2008 and included a second disc of rare and previously unreleased tracks.



Writing and rehearsing the songs for the album began in autumn 1979, shortly after Midge Ure had joined the band. Among the first tracks written were "Astradyne", "Mr. X" and "New Europeans".[1] As opposed to the band's previous albums, the music was written collectively by the four members by throwing ideas back and forth between them and then working on the ideas and turning them into song structures.[2] Warren Cann contributed to the lyric writing as Ure, who would later write all of the band's lyrics, was still settling in as a new member. Cann wrote the bulk of the lyrics to "Sleepwalk", "Mr. X", "Private Lives", "All Stood Still" and "New Europeans".[1] Following a live gig in London in February 1980 Chrysalis Records had become interested in the band and gave them studio time to record some demos. The band decided to concentrate on one song and record it properly with producer Conny Plank. They recorded "Sleepwalk" and was offered a contract by Chrysalis. The tracks for the album were then recorded at RAK Studios in London and later mixed in Conny Plank's studio in Germany. The song "Vienna", which had been written quickly in early 1980, was seen by the band as the musical high point of the album and the song that best represented what they wanted to do, so they decided to make it the title track of the album.[2][3]

Four singles were released from the album. "Sleepwalk" was released as a single in June 1980, and was followed by "Passing Strangers" in October 1980, "Vienna" in January 1981 and "All Stood Still" in May 1981.[2] "New Europeans" was used in a Japanese television commercial and released as a single in Japan, earning a gold disc.[2]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [4]
Christgau's Record GuideC[5]
Mojo     [6]
Q     [7]
Record Mirror     [8]
Rolling Stone     [9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [10]
Smash Hits8/10[11]
Sounds     [12]

Reviews for Vienna were mixed, with Ure's introduction and the move towards mainstream pop dividing the critics. Sounds gave the album an enthusiastic review, and challenged the reader, "I dare you to find another band who can mix Euro systems-rock, electronics, Can's fairground style and English music with such panache".[12] Melody Maker was generally positive but felt the album contained weak moments, saying that "the first half of side two reveals the most tedious liabilities. Electronic clichés are no worse than guitar clichés, but they're more likely to sound pompous." Overall, however, the review concluded, "Ultravox deserve success. This should do the trick."[13] Philip Hall of Record Mirror felt that although "Ultravox make all the right noises, they are never capable of writing consistently memorable pieces ... Vienna is full of conventional electronic rock songs which are beautifully executed but never inspiring."[8] NME was also indifferent, calling Vienna "an album of gaudy, sometimes magnificent, but mostly hollow edifices, housing songs that replace Foxx's elliptical imagery with clumsily verbose descriptions of similar scenery", and described that imagery as "seemingly derived from Hollywood films of the continent ... it's similarly full of glamour and lacking in true essence". The review presciently concluded, "Despite their wanton plagiarism and less clearly defined ideas, Vienna will probably be the album that makes Ultravox because, unfettered of Foxx's commitment, they're free to compromise themselves a touch to suit contemporary tastes."[14]

Reviewing the 2000 reissue, Q called Vienna the band's "best album" and stating that "there were fine singles such as 'Sleepwalk' and 'All Stood Still' and the title track which – like a cartoon hippo – remains pompous yet loveable."[7] However, the review of the deluxe version eight years later was less favourable towards the album, describing it as "sounding as cold and artificial as ever".[15] Also reviewing the 2008 version, Mojo said that "[the title track]'s studied grandeur has aged far less well than the electro-rush of lead-off single 'Sleepwalk', the instrumental 'Astradyne', or the punishing riff-rock of 'New Europeans'. Ultimately, Vienna, with its winning formula of cold futurism and big rock textures, took Ultravox out of the margins and into the big-haired '80s mainstream."[6]

AllMusic said, "There are plenty of pretentious and pompous moments at which Foxx-era purists cringe, but taken as a snooty rebellion against the guitar-heavy climate of the late '70s, they're ignorable ... Add Anton Corbijn's photography and Peter Saville's smart cover design and all the ingredients for an early-'80s classic are there. A few albums later, it would all seem like a fluke, but on Vienna, all the pieces come together."[4]

Track listingEdit

All songs written and composed by Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie, and Midge Ure.

European versionEdit

Side oneEdit

  1. "Astradyne" – 7:07
  2. "New Europeans" – 4:01
  3. "Private Lives" – 4:06
  4. "Passing Strangers" – 3:48
  5. "Sleepwalk" – 3:10

Side twoEdit

  1. "Mr. X" – 6:33
  2. "Western Promise" – 5:18
  3. "Vienna" – 4:53
  4. "All Stood Still" – 4:21

North American versionEdit

Side oneEdit

  1. "Sleepwalk" – 3:10
  2. "Passing Strangers" – 3:48
  3. "New Europeans" – 4:01
  4. "Private Lives" – 4:06
  5. "Astradyne" – 7:07

Side twoEdit

  1. "Mr. X" – 6:33
  2. "Western Promise" – 5:18
  3. "Vienna" – 4:53
  4. "All Stood Still" – 4:21

2000 reissue bonus tracksEdit

  1. "Waiting" (B-side of "Sleepwalk") – 3:51
  2. "Passionate Reply" (B-side of "Vienna") – 4:17
  3. "Herr X" (German version of "Mr. X" – B-side of "Vienna" 12") – 5:49
  4. "Alles Klar" (B-side of "All Stood Still") – 4:53
  5. "Vienna" (promotional video for single)

2008 Remastered Definitive EditionEdit

Disc one is the same as the original European release/album.

Disc TwoEdit

  1. "Sleepwalk" (early version) – 3:23
  2. "Waiting" – 3:51
  3. "Face to Face" (recorded live at St Albans, 16 Aug 1980 – B-side of "Passing Strangers") – 6:04
  4. "King's Lead Hat" (Brian Eno) (recorded live at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980 – B-side of "Passing Strangers" 12") – 4:06
  5. "Passionate Reply" – 4:17
  6. "Herr X" – 5:49
  7. "All Stood Still" (12" version) – 5:08
  8. "Alles Klar" – 4:53
  9. "Keep Talking" (cassette recording during rehearsals) – 6:23
  10. "Sleepwalk" (recorded live in rehearsals at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980) – 3:43
  11. "All Stood Still" (recorded live in rehearsals at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980) – 4:35

2014 remastered vinyl editionEdit

As original album – came with a bonus 7" single of "Sleepwalk" and "All Stood Still" recorded live in rehearsals at The Lyceum, 17 Aug 1980 (the same two tracks that appear at the end of the second disc of the 2008 edition).



  • Warren Cann – drums, electronic percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Mr. X" and "Herr X"
  • Chris Cross – bass, synthesizers, backing vocals
  • Billy Currie – piano, synthesizers (ARP Odyssey), viola, violin
  • Midge Ure – guitars, synthesizers, lead vocals (except on "Mr. X" and "Herr X")

Additional personnel

  • Conny Plank – co-production
  • Brian Griffin & Brian Aris – band photography

Charts and certificationsEdit

Release historyEdit

Region Date Label Format Catalog
Worldwide 11 July 1980 Chrysalis LP CHR 1296
cassette ZCHR 1296
United Kingdom 1983 CD 0946 3 21296 2 8
United Kingdom & Europe 10 April 2000 EMI Gold Remastered CD 7243 5 25523 0 6
United Kingdom 22 September 2008 Chrysalis Remastered Definitive Edition CD CHRX 1296
Europe 5099923436527
United Kingdom & Europe 15 December 2014 Weatherbox Remastered 180 gram white
vinyl with bonus 7" single


  1. ^ a b Warren Cann/Ultravox interview Part 4 by Jonas Wårstad
  2. ^ a b c d Warren Cann/Ultravox interview Part 5 by Jonas Wårstad
  3. ^ Extreme Voice 18: Rarest in Eden
  4. ^ a b Jeffries, David. "Vienna – Ultravox". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Ultravox: Vienna". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b Buckley, David (January 2009). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Mojo. No. 182. p. 122.
  7. ^ a b Quantick, David (July 2000). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Q. No. 166. p. 137.
  8. ^ a b Hall, Philip (5 July 1980). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Record Mirror. p. 16.
  9. ^ Cohen, Debra Rae (5 March 1981). "Ultravox: Vienna". Rolling Stone (338). Archived from the original on 2 October 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  10. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John, eds. (1983). "Ultravox". The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2nd ed.). Random House. ISBN 0-394-72107-1.
  11. ^ Taylor, Steve. "Albums". Smash Hits. No. 10–23 July 1980. p. 31.
  12. ^ a b Gill, John (5 July 1980). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Sounds. p. 36.
  13. ^ Kiley, Penny (5 July 1980). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Melody Maker. p. 18.
  14. ^ Bohn, Chris (12 July 1980). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". NME. p. 38.
  15. ^ Kane, Peter (November 2008). "Review: Ultravox – Vienna". Q. No. 268. p. 129.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, New South Wales, Australia: Australian Chart Books. p. 317. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH.
  18. ^ " – Ultravox – Vienna" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  19. ^ " – Ultravox – Vienna". Hung Medien.
  20. ^ " – Ultravox – Vienna". Hung Medien.
  21. ^ " – Ultravox – Vienna". Hung Medien.
  22. ^ "Ultravox | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  23. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1982). "The Top 200 LPs: January–December 1981". BPI Year Book 1982 (5th ed.). London, England: The British Phonographic Industry Ltd. pp. 50–53. ISBN 0-906154-03-0.
  24. ^ Jones, Alan; Lazell, Barry; Rees, Dafydd (1982). "The Top 200 Albums (UK)". Chart File 1982. London, England: Virgin Books. pp. 78–81. ISBN 0-907080-49-9.
  25. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Ultravox – Vienna". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  26. ^ "British album certifications – Ultravox – Vienna". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 1 June 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Vienna in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External linksEdit