Ultravox

Vienna

Composed by Billy Currie / Chris Cross / Midge Ure / Warren Cann

Song Review by

For listeners of a certain age, the line "This means nothing to me, oh Vienna," has the same resonance as "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," did to an earlier generation. The title track to Ultravox's fourth album (Midge Ure's first with the band), "Vienna"'s arrival in October, 1980, was met with astonishment and, from some quarters, even stunned disbelief.

This epic was not merely unlike anything the group had ever attempted previously (although it was, to a certain extent, foreshadowed by "Hiroshima Mon Amour", it was entirely unlike anything any band had attempted. "We wanted to take the song and make it incredibly pompous in the middle, leaving it very sparse before and after, but finishing with a typically over-the top classical ending," Ure explained. "The whole thing was a bit tongue in cheek."

Most listeners missed the joke, concentrating open-mouthed instead upon the song's sense of grandeur and glamor, its yearning for love lost and, by extension for a lost world and the nostalgia of the fallen empire that the accompanying video so exquisitely invoked - all of which made a nonsense of Ure's claims. In fact, "Vienna" was the apotheosis of all the New Romantics held dear: the romance found in the lush waltz in its center, the melancholy that rippled through its milieu, the feeling of isolation implicit in its minimalist opening and, indeed, its very opulence and pretentiousness, all were the leitmotif of the movement. No song better skewered the genre's fascination with a long decayed past.

And the single, released in January, 1981, waltzed its way up the British charts, finally breathing its last at #2. Indeed, so thoroughly did it zap the zeitgeist that "Vienna" has long lingered and, when reissued in Britain in 1993, it again made its stately way into the Top 15.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Vienna 1980 Atlantic / Elektra / Rhino / Warner
Monument 1983 Chrysalis Records 5:23
The Collection 1984 Chrysalis Records / EMI Music Distribution 4:55
Stereoplay Highlights, Vol. 12 1986
Various Artists
Airola Eurodisc 4:40
The Greatest Love, Vol. 2 [Telstar] 1989
Various Artists
Telstar 4:39
Pop Classics, Vol. 1 1990
Various Artists
Eva
Vienna [Single] 1992 Chrysalis Records 4:40
BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert 1992 Windsong International 5:02
Pop & Wave, Vol. 2 1993
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:36
Young at Heart, Vol. 1 [Sounds Direct Discs 1-2] 1993
Various Artists
Sounds Direct
Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 2 1994
Various Artists
Rhino 4:40
Future Picture [Japan] 1995 Receiver 5:04
New Wave Hits [Cema] 1995
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets 4:40
Radio City Classic Hits the 80's 1995
Various Artists
Polydor 4:37
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Telstar
On the Border of Pop 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 4:52
Dancing with Tears in My Eyes [Disky] 1996 Disky 4:38
Wave Romantics: Dark Ballads & Underground Classics 1996
Various Artists
Fac 4:52
The Voice: The Best of Ultravox 1997 EMI Music Distribution 4:39
CMJ the Year in Alternative Music 1980 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 4:53
100% Rock [RCA] 1998
Various Artists
Disky / Disky Communications / Target Records
The Best of the Best [Insight] 1998
Various Artists
Insight (3)
40 Hits: 1980-1984 1999
Various Artists
Millennium Hits (Netherlands) 4:38
The Best 80's Album In the World Ever 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Greatest Hits of the 80's [1999 Disky] 1999
Various Artists
Disky 4:38
Essential Eighties 2, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:58
Original Gold 2000 Disky 4:40
Hits at Planet Earth 2000
Various Artists
Planet Earth Recordings 4:38
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:35
Fetenkult Wave to 80s 2000
Various Artists
BMG International 4:54
Best of the Eighties 2000 Simply The Best (Netherlands) 4:38
Maximum New Wave 12" 2000
Various Artists
Disky 4:55
Greatest Hits Live 2001 Armoury Records
Capital Gold Legends 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:37
Drivin' Music Hits 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:37
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 4:38
Electric Dreams: '80s Synth Pop Classics 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Eighties Complete, Vol. 2 [Box] 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
Essential Eighties, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:58
Totally New Romantic 2002
Various Artists
EMI
Absolute Synth Classics 2002
Various Artists
Eva 4:36
Greatest Hits of the 70s & 80s 2003
Various Artists
Disky
Friends Reunited: 42 Classroom Classics from the 80's 2003
Various Artists
Universal International 4:35
Electric, Vol. 2 2003
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records
The Original 80's Album 2003
Various Artists
EMI 4:38
School Reunion: The 80's 2003
Various Artists
Virgin 4:56
The Voice: The Best of Ultravox 2003 EMI Digital / Parlophone 4:35
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Disky
Almost There! CD1: A Collection Of The Greatest Original No. 2 Hits 2003
Various Artists
Disky 4:35
Going Underground [Disky] 2004
Various Artists
Disky 4:35
Friends Reunited: Music of the Year 1981 2004
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:39
True Love [EMI Gold] 2004
Various Artists
EMI 4:40
Rewind: The Best In Music & Video [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the '80s Underground 2004
Various Artists
Rhino 4:39
I Love Techno Pop 2004
Various Artists
Beggars Banquet
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:39
Best of Pop Classics 2005
Various Artists
Paradiso
Long Versions: Pop 2005
Various Artists
Disky
The Best of the 80's, Vol. 2 [Crimson] 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 4:37
No Image 2005
Various Artists
ZYX Music
Cool Britannia [Disky] 2005
Various Artists
Disky
Essential 80's 2005
Various Artists
Disky Communications 4:38
80's Extended 12" Mix 2005
Various Artists
Disky / Disky Communications
Unplugged [Disky] 2005
Various Artists
Disky 5:27
New Wave 80's [Madacy] 2005
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 4:39
Bertallosophie Rew 2005
Various Artists
V2 4:36
Complete Eighties 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Barking Mad
School Reunion Party 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Disky Friends Reunited 1981 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
101 80's Hits 2007
Various Artists
EMI/Virgin 4:37
Pure: Pop 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:55
Pure: 80s [EMI] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:55
Ashes to Ashes, Series 1 2008
Original TV Soundtrack
Sony Music 4:37
The Edge of the 80's 2008
Various Artists
BMG 4:40
Top of the Pops Collection [43 CD] 2008
Various Artists
EMI
This Is 1981 2008
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire / Parlophone 4:38
Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes 2008
Original TV Soundtrack
Sony Music 4:37
Legendary: Power Ballads 2008
Various Artists
MP Records 4:39
Smash Hits 1980 2009
Various Artists
Rhino
Charts Pur: Pop & Wave 2009
Various Artists
ZYX Music 4:38
Original Hits: Love 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:36
Best of Ultravox: Sight and Sound 2009 EMI Music Distribution 4:39
Anthems: Electronic '80s 2009
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 4:36
Top of the Pops: Eighties Pop 2009
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 4:37
Return to Eden: Live at the Roundhouse 2010 Chrysalis Records / Parlophone 5:21
No Image 2011 Soundcolours 4:56
Essential 2011 EMI / EMI Gold 4:38
100 Hits: The New Romantics 2011
Various Artists
Demon 4:39
Tony Fenton's 50 Favourite No. 1s 2012
Various Artists
EMI 4:36
'80s Love: The Collection 2015
Various Artists
Rhino 4:39
Greatest Ever! Power Ballads [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 4:38
No Image 2015
Various Artists
Rhino 4:39
Synth Pop 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:38
Now That's What I Call the 80s [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:39
100% Rolling Stone
Various Artists
Frequency Records
101 80's Anthems
Various Artists
EMI TV 4:38
BRIT Awards Decades: '80s
Various Artists
Rhino 4:35
No Image
Various Artists
Virgin
Best of British
Various Artists
Rhino
Brits in the 80s
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Gold / EMI Music Distribution
Chilled Electronic '80s
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 4:35
Classic '80s [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino
Classic 80's [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino 4:38
Classic Pop: Synthpop
Various Artists
Rhino 4:38
De Pre Historie: 1981, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 4:38
No Image
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 4:37
Forever Young: Best of the 80's
Various Artists
Warner Music 4:58
Happy & Glorious
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 4:39
I Grew Up in the 80s
Various Artists
EMI TV 4:58
It Must Be Love
Various Artists
EMI
No Image
Various Artists
Disky
No Image
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 4:37
Original Hits: Drivetime
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Gold 4:36
Original Hits: Top of the Pops
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Gold
Power Ballads: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino / WSM 4:38
Rage in Eden/Vienna EMI / EMI Gold / EMI Music Distribution
No Image
Various Artists
Digital 4:39
The  New Romantics [EMI 2009]
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
The 80s [EMI 1999]
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image Parlophone 5:21
The Eighties Album
Various Artists
Rhino 4:37
Ultimate New-Wave
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Vol. 1-Capital Gold Legends
Various Artists
Virgin
blue highlight denotes editor's pick