Monday, July 28, 2014

Music Monday: Become

It's been a very long time since I've heard anything from Midge Ure. The last time I bought one of his albums, I wasn't even married: that was more than 20 years ago.

Which is sad, because I idolized the man when I was a teen.

When Ure became the front man for Ultravox in 1980, my life changed. I went from listening to Led Zeppelin, Yes, and The Who to New Wave and Alternative Pop (Depeche Mode, The The, Eurythmics, and U2). I still liked my rock, and Peter Gabriel was king (still is), but I listened to Ultravox every single day.

I had earlier albums by Ultravox (Ultravox!, Ha!-Ha!-Ha!, and Systems of Romance), when John Foxx led the band, but I wasn't really into them, only liked a track or two from each.

With Midge Ure and Vienna, it was a whole new band with a completely different sound, and I couldn't get enough of them. I would buy every album as soon as they hit the store shelves, without hearing a single track. And I would play them over and over again.

Ure went on to put out a solo album in 1985, The Gift, before he and Ultravox released their final album together a year later. His hit single, If I Was, solidified him as a top artist around the world.

I saw Midge Ure play twice in Ottawa; the second time, I managed to sneak back stage and meet him, although briefly. When one of the security guy at Barrymore's noticed I was where I shouldn't be, he moved in quickly to bounce me out, but Midge said, "that's okay," and I was spared a rough departure. But we shook hands, I told him I was a huge fan, that I hoped he would return to Ottawa, and that was pretty much that.

He hasn't been back, and I blame the bouncer.

When I was first creating Roland Axam, I modeled his appearance after Midge Ure. Brown hair, dark eyes, thin-faced with a high forehead. A good looking man who could easily fade into a crowd. Even though my novel, Songsaengnim: A Korea Diary, is based on my experiences in South Korea, I always pictured my character, who has a much darker past than me, who lived a past life as a spy, I have always pictured Roland Axam to look more like Midge Ure than like me.

By the time I left Canada to live in Korea, in 1997, I hadn't seen a new album from Midge Ure since his 1991 release, Pure. He had a UK release in 1996, but it hadn't reached Canada before I left the country. And any time I checked a CD shop, I never found anything by the man I idolized (the Internet wasn't as robust back then).

I assumed Ure hadn't produced any more music, had turned his attention to charity work, such as Live Aid. I also learned that he and Ultravox reunited for a tour in 2009, but they never came to North America. And so I stopped looking for more from Midge Ure.

Until earlier this year, when I learned he was on Twitter. Naturally, I began to follow him, but by then, I was so busy with other things in my life that I didn't go digging, didn't check to see what the man was up to.

At the beginning of July, he started tweeting about his new album, and I got excited. I thought that he would have a UK release and that shortly thereafter, there would be distribution in Canada and other countries.

Being old-school, that was my thinking: and then I remembered we now live in the digital age. Yesterday, I performed a quick search on Google Play, and lo and behold, I discovered Midge Ure's full library. I immediately downloaded his new album, Fragile, and one from 2001 (re-released as an expansion in 2006), Move Me.

I have missed you, Midge. And while your new album still carries the sound you had in the 80s and 90s, you have also kept with the times. You have evolved with the Pop genre while keeping your distinct sound, and you have shown me what I have missed over the decades.

Fragile is beautiful, filled with haunting joy. And while I love the album, I do find that Ure's vocals seem softer; on some tracks, slightly diminished, as though the album title refers to the man, whose voice does not have the strength and the power of The Voice from Rage In Eden.

For today's Music Monday (yes, I eventually got here), I am sharing a song from Midge Ure's new album. Though time has changed the man, it certainly hasn't changed him for the worse.

Over the next few days and weeks, I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself with the man who kept me safe from a bouncer.

Happy Monday!

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