Ultravox – Vienna
If I think of early January, the first word that comes to my mind is chill. Chill, cold, snow, grey. In a nutshell, winter. And in January 1981 we saw a video, released exactly at the right moment, which summarized all these topics in a wonderful way, and was located in a fantastic place which is really one of the winter capitals.
Actually Ultravox wrote the song “Vienna” one year earlier; in fact in October 1980 they decided to give the same title to the entire album, but they were not planning to release the song as a single. But people do change their minds, even if the legend says that Midge Ure (who was also part of Steve Strange’s Visage) was not completely convinced by the song. So when he commented the arrangements, he said “This means nothing to me”. The story says that the producers replied “Just mention it in the song!”, which he did, and the rest is history.
The video is a masterpiece too, and it contributes to the cold and clandestine atmosphere. Ultravox always connected this song to Graham Greene’s novel “The Third Man”, which takes place in Vienna. The director is Russell Mulcahy, who directed a lot of masterpieces of the 80s like “Video killed the radio star”, all the great Duran Duran videos, “Bette Davis Eyes“, “True”, “Total eclipse of the heart”, he was really the director of the 80s.
Many scenes were filmed in England, but at the end Midge Ure and his friends took a plane at dawn and flew to Vienna. You know, in the 80s you had to do it right, even if flying was not so easy as today.
In any case, Vienna is such an impressive place as few others, for historical, artistic, and cultural reasons. I need to say that it’s one of my favourite places overall, a fantastic and intriguing town with really peculiar atmospheres, where I lived very particular moments.
Filming in Vienna was not easy for Ultravox, many spots were closed or not accessible, because they were off the touristic season. So at the end of the day they filmed some scenes in Vienna central cemetery, a place with a particularly intense atmosphere, where also Falco is now buried. The cover of the “Vienna” single is actually a funeral monument in Vienna cemetery.
“Vienna” really became a symbol of the 80s, and absolutely the materpiece of Midge Ure and Ultravox. And we know that when you start from a great story, joining literature, travel, spy stories, feelings, you always end up with great music.