Of all the bands I've ever obsessed over, early Ultravox! come top of the pile. I've blogged about how it all started, and it all came to a glorious head when I was asked to contribute a quote to the sleeve notes for the recent CD reissue of "ha!-ha!-ha!" (My favourite album, EVER.) John Foxx-era Ultravox! made three albums, "Ultravox!", "ha!-ha!-ha!" and "Systems Of Romance", but it's the first two albums that really do it for me. And the common thread running through those two albums? Their original guitarist, Stevie Shears. Stevie was replaced just before "Systems..." by Robin Simon, and while the exact reasons have never really been made clear, it seems as if he wasn't thought to be capable of making the new guitar sounds they wanted, as the band explored differing textures and moved towards a synthesiser dominated sonic palette. That, to me, was a crying shame. It was Stevie's coruscating, amphetamine-drenched waves of guitar that made the early recordings: "Distant Smile" (from "ha!-ha!-ha!") is a great case in point; the two-note riff, on strings stretched way further than sounds necessary, still stands as some of most primal, exciting rock music I've heard. It's Stevie who blazes all across "Young Savage", it's Stevie whose riff lights up "Hiroshima Mon Amour". And they replaced him. Oh well.
After his time in Ultravox (and following a brief sojourn in Cowboys International) Stevie Shears returned to the musical arena with his new band, Faith Global. Comprised of himself, Jason Guy on vocals and associated session musicians backing him up, they released this, their debut single, and a following album "The Same Mistakes" It's a classic slice of early 80's new wave, lots of whooshing synths and earnest vocals.It's let down slightly by a tentative production job, but the melodies are strong and precise, and the tune buries itself neatly in the back of your mind.The entire thing reeks a little of The Psychedelic Furs a bit TOO much, and there's not enough of Stevie's guitar histrionics for me, but I love it nonetheless. The albums great as well, remind me to rip a few tracks from it some time in the future.
And what of Faith Global? Well, like so many of the bands I feature on this blog; nothing much. Stevie doesn't seem to have done anything since, and I can't find any trace of Jason Guy whatsoever. If anyone has any information about either, I'd love to hear it! The single turns up on eBay from time to time, because it's a bit of an adjunct to the Ultravox! story, it doesn't go for huge money, so snap it up if you see it.