Midge Ure – In a photo frame
In A Picture Frame opens the shutter to reveal the haunted landscape of the 80s, captured by one of the stylists of the decade Midge Ure.
âWe not only wanted to make music, but also how our music was presented. The packaging, the photographs, the graphics â. With a short introduction, New Wave propagator and visionary Midge Ure explains the rationale behind the book, featuring his photography.
Although covering a relatively short period, from 1979 to 1986, the book presents some narrative tensions. All of them are inevitably tied to Ultravox, Ure’s big project at the time. Recording sessions at Conny Plank’s studio, Rabies in Eden tour, sessions with George Martin at Air Studios in London, work on a video for the band’s hit Vienna etc.
After joining the resurrected Ultravox in 1979, the musician began taking photos with a 35mm SLR camera. The series of black and white and color shots are thematic, they capture the events of the band’s career in a non-linear way. By emphasizing the ambiance, Midge Ure gives these photographs a personal touch. Defined by a pool theme, a few images seem to allude to an eponymous 1969 film by Jacques Deray. Some of them were taken during recording sessions at Air Studios. The glamorous turquoise palette and water motif continues in the following shot which takes the viewer to William Randolph Hearst’s castle in California and has nothing to do with George Martin’s recording facilities.
Associative thinking seems to be a unifying principle. These images are a memory, “shapes cut in the light of the day of occasion”. At the book launch, hosted by the Walthamstow Rock ‘n’ Roll Book Club at 21 Soho, Ure admitted that the photographs he chose for the book were mostly monochrome. The reason is simply that this is how he remembers the 80s.
Minimalist aesthetics, an undeniable taste for the landscape and a pedantic approach to composition are its qualities, applicable not only to photography but also to music. With the arrival of Midge Ure, Ultravox’s career is oriented towards experimentation with textures, pushing the limits of sound with the help of synthesizers and finding the balance between niche and radio-friendly.
Several black and white images from Conny Plank’s Cologne studio pay homage to the record producer, whose ideas have become part of Ultravox’s sound. Following a relevant question from the audience, Ure quoted Conny, using poetic language to describe his idea of ââthe sound for Vienna: man playing piano in an empty ballroom, he’s been playing the same tune for 40 years and he’s really tired. “. And the sound he got there was just that. That’s how Conny thought.
Showcasing the blurry image of the author, the cover is emblematic of the dominating power of music and art over those who create them. These are haunted images that tell stories and, gratifyingly, much more than the author.
All the words of Irina Shtreis. Other writings of Irina can be found in the archives of its author.