With the departure of vocalist John Foxx and guitarist Robin Simon behind them, Vienna kicked off Ultravox's second phase with former Rich Kids vocalist Midge Ure at the helm. Trading Foxx's glam rock stance for Ure's aristocratic delivery, Vienna recasts the band as a melodramatic synth pop chamber ensemble with most of the group doubling on traditional string quartet instruments and the synthesizers often serving to emulate an orchestra. It was a bold move that took awhile to pay off (the first two singles, "Sleepwalk" and "Passing Strangers," went unnoticed), but when the monolithic title track was released, the Ure lineup became the band's most identifiable one almost overnight.
With the successes of Vienna and its follow-up, Rage in Eden, Ultravox's position in the music scene was unassailable, further fortified by frontman Midge Ure's foray into solo-dom with the summer 1982 hit cover of the Walker Brothers' "No Regrets." The band's "Reap the Wild Wind" followed it up the U.K. chart that fall, a taster for the band's sixth album. And what a portentous taste it was…
As the title suggests, Ultravox were in a gray mood as they launched into their seventh studio LP, their previous existential angst now pooling around personal anguish. The album's title track was a study in languorous melancholy, where the emotional pain lingered on and on. And why would it ever dissipate, when romance is forever doomed, as "When the Time Comes" exquisitely illustrated? Even "One Small Day," the most musically celebratory song on the set, battles depression but dismally loses the war. No wonder Ultravox were so keen to escape far into the past, with "Man of Two Worlds" taking them back to the gloriously romanticized days of the Celts. The modern world, in contrast, was filled with terrors, both emotional ("A Friend I Call Desire") and global. There was the omnipresent yellow peril to fear; but if "White China" warned of the dangers of creeping communism, the nation sworn to protect its citizens from a Stalinistic embrace proves just as nefarious on "Heart of the Country".
Dean Hess, who entered the ministry to atone for bombing a German orphanage, decides he's a failure at preaching. Rejoined to train pilots early in the Korean War, he finds Korean orphans raiding the airbase garbage. With a pretty Korean teacher, he sets up an orphanage for them and others. But he finds that to protect his charges, he has to kill.