December 25, 2018

Visage - Beat Boy (1984)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1984 Polygram Records Inc.
AllMusic Review by Dan LeRoy
The third and final album from new romantic icons Visage found foppish frontman Steve Strange and drummer Rusty Egan almost completely without most of the high-profile sidemen -- like Midge Ure, keyboardist Billy Currie and bassist Barry Adamson -- who'd played such a big role in crafting the group's lush, haunting synth pop. Undeterred, Strange and Egan recruited a new lineup that gave a prominent role to saxophonist Gary Barnacle. But the real shock to fans was the shrieking, metallic guitar that appeared on most cuts, an intrusion that seemed completely at odds with the suave, continental image suggested by past hits like "Fade to Grey" and "The Damned Don't Cry." In fact, the guitar muscle worked surprisingly well when simply overlaid atop the group's familiar dance pulse, as on the title track and "The Promise." But straight-up rockers like the endless "Only the Good (Die Young)" and "Casualty" featured a lethal combination of ham-handed riffs and dumb lyrics, thoroughly alienating the blitz kids who'd once packed the London discos Strange and Egan ran. Those fans made a club hit of the melodic "Love Glove," the closest thing here to Visage's classic sound, but ignored the rest, making Beat Boy a disappointing swan song for the group. Yet despite the uneven songwriting, hindsight showed that Strange's ear for the next big trend hadn't deserted him. The next year, the success of Duran Duran offshoot the Power Station had synth poppers on both sides of the Atlantic scurrying to rough up their dance tracks with heavy guitar. Perhaps in this case, the colorfully costumed Strange -- who later displayed his sartorial sense in a new band, Strange Cruise, before largely bowing out of the music biz -- was just too far in front of the fashion curve.

tags: visage, beat boy, 1984, flac,