Ultravox

Vienna

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

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 Chrysalis Records 4:52
The Collection 1984 Chrysalis Records 4:38
Best of 1980-1990 1990
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:59
Vienna [Single] 1992 Chrysalis Records 4:40
If I Was: The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox 1993 SBK Records / Alliance / Capitol 4:38
Pop & Wave, Vol. 2 1993
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:36
Now That's What I Call Music! 24 [UK] 1993
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI
New Wave Hits [Cema] 1995
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets 4:40
Living in Oblivion: The 80's Greatest Hits, Vol. 5 1995
Various Artists
Capitol 4:38
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
Premium Gold Collection 1997 EMI Music Distribution / EMI / Electrola 4:38
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
Music for Heroes 1998
Various Artists
Bebutante 4:40
40 Hits: 1980-1984 1999
Various Artists
Millennium Hits (Netherlands) 4:38
Now: 1981 1999
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI 4:37
Greatest Hits of the 80's [1999 Disky] 1999
Various Artists
Disky 4:38
Eighties Complete [CD1] 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
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 80's [Disky Boxset] 2000
Various Artists
Disky 4:39
Maximum 80's, Vol. 3 2000
Various Artists
Disky 4:39
Capital Gold Legends 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:37
Drivin' Music Hits 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:37
Big Hits 1980-2000: Pop 2001
Various Artists
Big Hits 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
Smash Hits: Reunion 2003
Various Artists
Virgin 4:37
The Original 80's Album 2003
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 0:00
The Voice: The Best of Ultravox 2003 EMI Music Distribution
Almost There! CD1: A Collection Of The Greatest Original No. 2 Hits 2003
Various Artists
Disky 4:35
Almost There! A Collection of the Greatest Original Number 2 Hits [Box Set] 2004
Various Artists
Disky 4:38
Rewind: The Best In Music & Video [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:39
Ashes to Ashes, Series 1 2008
Original TV Soundtrack
Sony Music 4:37
Original Hits: Love 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:36
Anthems: Electronic '80s 2009
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 4:38
Essential 2011 EMI / EMI Gold 4:38
'80s Love: The Collection 2015
Various Artists
Rhino 4:39
No Image
Various Artists
Virgin
Car-aoke: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 4:38
Classic Pop: Synthpop
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 4:38
Essential Eighties [Mixed Repertoire]
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire / Parlophone / Warner Music 4:58
Power Ballads: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino