Visage – The Anvil (1982)

The Anvil is the second studio album by the British rock/pop band Visage, released in March 1982 by Polydor Records. The album reached No. 6 in the UK and was certified “Silver” by the British Phonographic Industry in April 1982. The Anvil was a legendary Gay after hours club where famous Danceteria DJ Bill Bahlman created the extremely popular “New Wave Nights at the Anvil” One night Bahlman invited Visage lead singer Steve Strange. So impressed with the power and fun of the energy charged, steamy atmosphere, he named his second album “The Anvil” Several of the tracks are his attempt to capture that energy on vinyl.
When they recorded the follow-up to their surprisingly successful debut, the members of Visage appeared to be dealing from a position of strength. But the dance club-fueled, style-obsessed new romantic movement that had propelled the group to success in England was already crumbling, and frontman Steve Strange had begun to take his role as the movement’s figurehead a little too seriously. The Anvil, rumored to be the subject of a multi-million dollar feature film (a project that never materialized), emphasizes Strange‘s penchant for melancholy and melodrama. Where the band’s debut undercut such pretensions with humorous tracks like the twangy “Malpaso Man,” only one tune here — “Night Train,” with a rubbery bassline and blasts of brass backing a tongue-in-cheek tale of intrigue — dares to take liberties with Visage‘s moody image. Still, with backing from the same core of post-punk all-stars (Ultravox‘s Midge Ure — who co-produced the album — and violinist Billy Currie, as well as Magazine keyboardist Dave Formula), Strange and drummer Rusty Egan sound just as good as before, and despite once again closing an album with a forgettable instrumental (“Whispers”), almost all the band’s efforts on The Anvil are extremely well-crafted synth pop. Two, in fact, are essential new wave artifacts. The title track takes a despairing look around clubland, setting Strange‘s best-ever lyric to a grim parody of a hit in the meatmarket disco it describes; it suggests he’d become disillusioned with the scene that had spawned Visage. “The Damned Don’t Cry,” meanwhile, is even better, a ghostly groove that comes closer than anyone would have thought possible to recapturing the haunted magnificence of “Fade to Grey,” the band’s signature hit.


1.  “The Damned Don’t Cry” – 4:43
2.  “Anvil (Night Club School)” – 4:39
3.  “Move Up” – 4:25
4.  “Night Train” – 4:29
5.  “The Horseman” – 4:41
6.  “Look What They’ve Done” – 4:49
7.  “Again We Love” – 4:44
8.  “Wild Life” – 4:24
9.  “Whispers” – 5:39

All tracks written by Visage (Billy Currie, Rusty Egan, Dave Formula, Steve Strange and Midge Ure).


Additional personnel

Released: March 1982
Recorded: 1981 at Mayfair Studios in Primrose Hill, London
Genre: Synthpop, new wave
Length: 40:33

Label – Polydor Records

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