All This Talk of Dancing —

— reminded me of this particular song from my teenage years:

What amazes me about this song is that it has spawned a number of genuinely awful cover versions, which either bury the tune in overwrought goth metal, or try to make a song about nuclear annihilation sound like a fun time at a rave. Kids these days! No respect, yo.

30 Comments on “All This Talk of Dancing —”

  1. I like how the Ultra Flirt version is cobbled together out of all of these stock dance remix bits and then sent to shamble about the countryside.

    Pity there’s no good ballad cover of it, complete with a truck driver’s gear change on the last chorus.

  2. Thanks for posting this. You’ve managed to boot “The Politics of Dancing” from the loop its been running in my head the past couple days. (Which was only in there to begin with because, well, look what’s been on Whatever this week.)

  3. I’m only marginally younger, and I don’t remember this song either. Probably a good thing, since that video would have given my pre-teen self nightmares.

  4. I’m about the same age, and I remember the song, but I’d never seen the video. I had no idea that it was really about nuclear annihilation, but now that I think about it, in the ’80s how could it have been about anything else?

  5. Ultravox! I still have this album. Bless their hearts, they were touted as the next Beatles. That never works out well.

  6. I dunno, I can’t help watching that video and thinking that these people must be either suicidal or idiots, because a nuclear explosion that doesn’t do any more than blow out a few windows is eminently survivable. They didn’t even *try*! I would have taken the whole video more seriously if the aftermath had shown the house knocked down and set on fire, or its location replaced by a smoking lava-filled crater, you know?

    Anyway, I’m with Jim (#6) here, without the video I would have had no idea the song had anything at all to do with nuclear annihilation.

  7. Is that Mitch Ure with hair?

    In the early 80’s Ultravox were on an almost continuous loop on some radio stations, so if you were alive then in the UK you could not have not heard the song.

    Like Jim, I’d never connected he song with Nuclear Annihilation, but he’s right!

    OTOH the song gives me flashbacks to what was a pretty crappy time for me and a lot of people (height of the Thatcherite crackdown) and the music of the time reflected that.

    I’m Not sure how much of the post-punk, new romantic stuff made it over to your side of the pond, but Live Aid was the following year (Ure and Bob Geldorf organised that), so I’d guess a fair amount.

  8. Man, I miss Ultravox. They never got the appreciation they deserved in the US! Vienna is one of the all-time synth-pop classic albums.

  9. Hey John, have you ever heard Midge’s pre-Ultravox band Rich Kids, featuring original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock? Their song “Ghosts Of Princes In Towers” is a forgotten classic.

  10. Martyn Taylor – Northumberland – A writer exploring what lies beyond our peripheral vision. Published by various small presses and now considered to be nearly a Proper Author. Can be found lurking around the frozen North of England, happily herding a small family of recalcitrant adults who may once have been children and a woman who may very well be the fulcrum upon which the universe turns. Available for hire for very reasonable prices.
    martyn

    Midge in Ultravox, mid-career. I remember him in Slick, 5 Glasgow lads in baseball uniforms going nowhere but with great haircuts.

    Ah, Vienna.

    How about some Human League next?

  11. I totally owned this Ultravox album. On vinyl. Wonder what happened to it? It’s strange to think I’m facing “it’s the possible end of the world” again. Nuclear annihilation vs. economic annihilation. At least this time ’round we have a shot at saving the planet by using fewer resources up.

  12. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, with tears in his pants

    I love Ultravox! Found them through Reap The Wild Wind then did that back and forth dance through their catalogue.

    But I hate this song. In fact, my favorite album of theirs is Systems of Romance. Anathema, I know. But there you go.

  13. # tceiseleon 17 Oct 2008 at 12:25 pm
    “I dunno, I can’t help watching that video and thinking that these people must be either suicidal or idiots, because a nuclear explosion that doesn’t do any more than blow out a few windows is eminently survivable. They didn’t even *try*! I would have taken the whole video more seriously if the aftermath had shown the house knocked down and set on fire, or its location replaced by a smoking lava-filled crater, you know?”

    This is called ‘symbolism’, in many forms of art. It’s very artistic, and appreciated by sensitive people.

    It’s also called ‘this is a very low budget 1980’s music video, without 21st century CGI’. If one is cynical.

  14. I heart Ultravox, although one of my favourites is Vienna.

    I also love 99 Luftballoons (mentioned above) in the original German. (My german teachers showed it to us on the order of once a year.) And Forever Young. Yeah, I guess we kids of the 80s had a lot of nuclear war songs.

  15. That’s one of my favorite bands from the time. “Reap the Wild Wind” is okay, but this song is better and “Vienna” better still. I still throw “The Thin Wall” or “Visions in Blue” onto mix CDs for the car, too.

    I loved the guitar work. There was a ton of great guitar around in the early 80’s — Iron Maiden’s first album was released in the same year as Vienna (1980), Rush was getting airtime with “Spirit of Radio”, Triumph released Allied Forces in 1981, Yngwie Malmsteen was a rising force (heh) in Alcatrazz, Metallica’s first album was 1983 — but you didn’t expect great guitar work from a synth-pop band. Nor tough vocals, either, and Midge Ure has an amazing voice. I didn’t mind The Human League, and will confess to owning the album, but they’re just not in the same… well, you know.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, John.

  16. That’s actually the first song you’ve ever posted that I really, really like. Well, you know, except for the Journey. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a cover version of that song, and I didn’t click on any of those links, because, well, why ruin a good thing? Eh?

  17. ??
    Did that LP player with auto-closer and vertical mount actually exist. I guess you could lock down a record if you had some sort of grooved or threaded spindle but I have never seen anything like that.

  18. ??
    Did that LP player with auto-closer and vertical mount actually exist. I guess you could lock down a record if you had some sort of grooved or threaded spindle but I have never seen anything like that.

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