Ultravox Synths

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VCO8
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Ultravox Synths

Post by VCO8 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:19 am

I know some of what they used throughout their career...

An ARP Odyssey was used (debuting on their first album, maybe?), then they got a TR-77 (on Hiroshima Mon Amour), and later a CR-78 (Vienna, etc) (They also modified the TR-77 and CR-78).

When Midge came into the band, the synths started to pile up. The album Vienna made use of the OBX, SS30 string synth (I think they used a Rhapsody before), and a Yamaha CS-40m I think.

What else did they use?

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by vladimotor » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:57 am

Oscar?

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by VCO8 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:29 am

vladimotor wrote:Oscar?
I've heard of it being mentioned...I'm not sure when they started using it, though.

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by Broadwave » Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:22 am

I've seen them live a few times. The first was in 1977, Billy had an RMI Electra Piano, Elka Rhapsody 610 and the Oddy (which he first used on the second album "Ha! Ha! Ha!"). He had the same setup in 1978 for "Systems of Romance", but Chris had added the Minimoog and Warren the CR78. Apparently, there was an ARP 2600 in Conny Plank's studio during the "System" sessions, which was used on "Dislocation".

I believe it was when Midge replaced John Foxx, that they got a sponsorship with Yamaha, hence the abundance of SS-30's, a few CS-40M's and the CP70. They later added the CS-80, GS1, DX7, OBX, PPG 2.2 & Prophet T8.

Billy didn't start using the Oscar until the late 80's early 90's, when he continued with the Ultravox name.

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by VCO8 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:51 am

Broadwave wrote:I've seen them live a few times. The first was in 1977, Billy had an RMI Electra Piano, Elka Rhapsody 610 and the Oddy (which he first used on the second album "Ha! Ha! Ha!"). He had the same setup in 1978 for "Systems of Romance", but Chris had added the Minimoog and Warren the CR78. Apparently, there was an ARP 2600 in Conny Plank's studio during the "System" sessions, which was used on "Dislocation".

I believe it was when Midge replaced John Foxx, that they got a sponsorship with Yamaha, hence the abundance of SS-30's, a few CS-40M's and the CP70. They later added the CS-80, GS1, DX7, OBX, PPG 2.2 & Prophet T8.

Billy didn't start using the Oscar until the late 80's early 90's, when he continued with the Ultravox name.
Warren also started using the Linn LM-1 on Rage In Eden (Paths and Angles, I Never Wanted to Begin) and then introduced the LinnDrum on Quartet (Overlook)

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:53 am

Broadwave wrote: [...] Apparently, there was an ARP 2600 in Conny Plank's studio during the "System" sessions, which was used on "Dislocation". [...]
According to Dirk Matten of Synthesizerstudio Bonn fame (www.elektropolis.de), Plank never had the 2600 but the Odyssey only -- which, in turn, turned a lot of people on to the Odyssey.

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by gcoudert » Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:13 pm

At the height of their career: Yamaha CP70 piano, Yamaha SS30 string machine x 2, Yamaha CS80, Prophet T8, PPG Wave 2.2 x 2, ARP Odyssey (later replaced with an OSCar), Minimoog. Emulator 1 used live from 1982, played by one of their backing vocalists (The Messengers). "Lament" feature a fair amount of sampled sounds but I am not sure what sampler they used, although Emulator IIs appeared on stage soon after.
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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by Broadwave » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:25 pm

ppg_wavecomputer wrote: Plank never had the 2600 but the Odyssey only -- which, in turn, turned a lot of people on to the Odyssey.

Stephen
Indeed, I stand corrected, Sir ;)
Just found an interesting interview with John Foxx, which mentions how "Dislocation" came about.


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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by Sweep » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:54 pm

I'm not an Ultravox authority by any means, but I might be able to help with when they first started using the Oscar.

1) It was early in the history of the Oscar. A guy from OSC approached the band hoping to interest them in buying one of the first ones. They tried it, and Billy Currie said to Midge Ure "Maybe we'd better buy four of these for when the Odysseys pack in."

2) E&MM October 1984 has an Ultravox article which I happened to have read again this morning (complete with band members on the first cover with an Oscar). Billy Currie says on page 46 that he got the Oscar "just before we went on tour." So if anyone can identify when the tour prior to October 1984 happened, that's your date.
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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by Broadwave » Sun Mar 01, 2015 4:05 pm

Sweep wrote:So if anyone can identify when the tour prior to October 1984 happened, that's your date.
That would have been around the time of "Lament". But obviously the Oddy didn't pack up, because Billy was still playing it in '86 on the "UVox" album ;)

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by Sweep » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:35 pm

Yes, those old ARP synths just keep on going. Mine are still going strong and sounding great, too.

In the E&MM interview he mentioned tuning problems onstage, so maybe he thought that was a sign of growing unreliability? It's interesting he continued to use the Odyssey in the studio, which might suggest he preferred the sound to that of the Oscar, all other things being equal - unless he used both, depending on the song. The anecdote as I recall it referred to Odysseys, plural. I don't know if that's the quote being inaccurate, my memory being at fault, or whether the band had collected one or two backups by the early 80s.

But I know very little about Ultravox apart from sources like the E&MM interviews, and the few things I picked up from people I knew at the time who knew the band (and I wouldn't repeat any of that. ;) ).
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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by antilles » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:00 pm

According to this schematic of Ultravox’s live setup in 1984 they used two Oscars and no Odysseys.

Image

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by Vxster » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:39 pm

I believe the OSCar was used on Love's Great Adventure from '84. Reading this SOS article seems to suggest it anyway.

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by Bitexion » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:49 pm

Their songs are pretty simple, why did they need SO many expensive synths to perform them? Surely it must be showing off, somewhat.

I mean, compare to a band like Iron Maiden. Each member has one instrument each (at least on stage). And that's enough. Ultravox needs 10 each?
Last edited by Bitexion on Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ultravox Synths

Post by DesolationBlvd » Mon Mar 02, 2015 8:36 pm

Side note - I wonder why Chris was playing a Squier instead of a proper Fender Precision...
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