Ure takes some of his best and certainly some of his best-known material into the studio for orchestral reinvention. Let’s look at who’s involved – well the collection is produced, arranged, recorded and mixed by TY Unwin. Executive production by Midge. Conducting and score readying Stephen Powell. Recorded at studios in Oxfordshire, Bath and Bulgaria..Ure moves around so much, the local gypsies are complaining! Seriously this is a major work with many contributing to the goal, which is to gel these songs into fresh settings. The striking artwork and presentation seem to be down to Faye Purcell, Ryan Art and lensman Tom Cockram.
Hymn has a thunderous string-driven intro and weighty arrangement..could open a fantasy film. No need for Ure to yell however, space is made for an almost conspiratorial vocal delivery. The melody is plugged for all it is worth, tympani rolling in. A good opening cut from the perspective of setting the tone of dynamic range of the project.
Dancing With Tears In My Eyes is all subtlety and pretty much a Scott Walker ambience. It does make a change from the chart hit production. Breathe is taken at a stately semi-baroque pace, every word clear as crystal. I think I would have gone for a male-female duet on this one, amigo….
Man Of Two Worlds leans on the lyric for its initial impact. Sounds a tad solemn but it is a gorgeous tune, whatever. If I Was defies one not to sing along, it is a very enduring melody. The clipped string parts sound like a locomotive coming to life and adding to that wind-in-the-air vibe evident through much of this collection. Ah, Vienna now and it’s delivered slowly and steadily. I never cared much for the Ultravox original, coming to appreciate Ure’s talent somewhat later and based around his solo work. The strings work their magic but it still sounds monochrome like that old promo video.
The Voice tiptoes in. Ure imbues the lyric with an earnestness that almost aches. Maybe the best performance on the record, I venture. The arrangement is majestic, driving with natural sounding counterpoints across the score. It only lacks a four-minute guitar coda to ice the cake…maybe live, Midge? Over the fat brass slivers.
Ordinary Man next and again it drifts in, leaving plenty of space for the vocal. Death In The Afternoon in this incarnation evokes the bitterswift romantic film Death In Venice. A lament to savour and unbearably sad. Then the body of the song follows. And Lament follows ! the strings sound like a British variation on the work the late Marty Paich (father of Toto’s David Paich) created on the first album for Ode by West Coast act Spirit. The heady psych elements replaced here by something more regal.
Reap The Wild Wind is pacey and proud in this edition, exploiting the fairy-tale tune to the max with a bank of strings over tinkling piano. You can tell Ure still enjoys singing this number. Proceedings end with Fragile and it sure sounds delicate.
You have to be in the right mood to fully appreciate this, but it’s all done right. And with more than a trace of Scott Walker…should make for a good set of concerts which I believe are planned.
Midge Ure’s new album ‘Orchestrated’ is out now on BMG.
You can listen to ‘Vienna’ (Orchestrated) in this article.
For more information visit Midge Ure’s official website here: http://bit.ly/2COFwGD