Music is a journey – through songs and lyrics, that form a soundtrack to life. An album can have such a significant effect at a certain time. Golden moments.
I wanted to make a website chronicling John Foxx's work, firstly as a personal project, but to also provide an interesting and accurate source of information for other fans just starting their journey of discovering his work. Since creating this website in October 2006, it has grown in content and popularity, with regular visitors around the world, many of whom have been kind enough to drop me a line from time to time.
This page is a space for their stories and memories, as they recall their discovery and re-discovery of the music of John Foxx.
Alex Storer, October 2007
Peter Young : “2001”
Ian Price : “Fantastic Memories”
Martin Smith : “Glorious Technicolour Monochrome”
Chris Celecia : "John Foxx? I whispered”
Kirk Harrison : “How I discovered John Foxx”
Tessa Meijer : “John Foxx Redux”
I'd been a fan of Ultravox since it was suggested by a friend that I should listen to Systems Of Romance. I found a copy in a department store for 99p and there began my obsession with John Foxx. I started getting back copies of albums and singles and fell in love with Ultravox.
After John left Ultravox to pursue his solo career, I took a keen interest in that and I also took an interest in what Midge Ure was doing with Ultravox but for me it wasn't quite the same. When Metamatic came along it just blew me away. I was hooked. Again I had to buy all the 7" and 12" singles. (Which I still own). After In Mysterious Ways even then I thought it was John's weakest album of the four, but nothing was released after that. I guessed without any real commercial success John had given up music for good in 1983.
I was lucky to find Metamatic had been released on CD by accident in Virgin in 1993. I thought I was the luckiest man alive because it had all the "B" sides on as bonus tracks. Then a couple of years later The Garden came along.
In 2001, lots of things happened. I was in Watford and out of complete curiosity looked under "F" in Virgin and found Modern Art and saw there were some extra tracks that I'd never heard of. I was eager to cycle home and play these. “Shifting City” from the Exotour was awesome along with “The Noise” and “Nightlife”. “Sunset Rising” took some getting used to as I'd never heard the Cathedral Oceans type music before. I never realised that John had found his new performing partner Louis Gordon four years previously. I then got the internet at home and sucked up any information to do with John.
I joined the Metamatic news mailing list and found out that John was performing live at the Mean Fiddler in London. I rang and got a ticket and travelled up to London not knowing what to expect. I arrived at the venue very early and sat by myself on a table for four people listening to the support acts. Someone said to me "are the other seats free" and I said "Yes" I started talking to this other fan which was quite difficult with the supports acts playing along with a German accent. We swapped e-mail addresses and I though no more about it. When John came on stage I found it overwhelming and hard to believe that I've liked this guy standing behind his synth for such a long time and I'm now standing so close hearing him perform live. The concert passed very quickly and so much happened I found it hard to take it all in. Also at the concert I was able to buy the Edsel releases of Metamatic, The Garden, The Golden Section, In Mysterious Ways, Shifting City, Pleasures of Electricity, and Cathedral Oceans (I spent a bomb that night!!).
After I got home I e-mailed the guy I'd met at the Mean Fiddler and I was surprised to get a reply. I arranged to visit him in the November in Germany. The rest is history...
Since 2001 I've been very fortunate to meet and make some good friends along my John Foxx journey.
My lasting John Foxx memory, was meeting him for the first time in 1983. This was after the show at the Warwick Arts Centre. I was the only person who staying after the show. I was a bit star struck clutching my bag of rare imported 7” records. John offered me a beer and kindly signed all my records. I remember we had a long chat mostly about synths. I'd just purchase my first mono synth. It was late when everything was packed away and the van was ready to go. As I arrived by bus, I was offered a lift in their, what seemed to be, plush people carrier. I seem to remember Jo Dworniak (bass player) and Zeus B. Held (keyboards) and a few other band members were also in the van. I also seem to remember John had forgotten his scarf just as we were about to leave. My mind may be playing tricks as it was a fair few years ago, but I'm sure the music being played on the cassette player was Ultravox Monument live!!!
The whole experience was fantastic. I woke the next day still in a bit of a daze sitting in the office. Did I really meet John Foxx, get his autograph, had a very long chat, and got a lift with them.
My first experience of John Foxx was with the remarkable Metamatic album on its first release at the beginning of 1980. I was 17, detached, lonely, waking up to the realisation that Kate Bush was never going to marry me. To spite her, and rediscover myself, my cousin introduced me to Cabaret Voltaire and electronic music vis The Human League and Gary Numan. Metamatic at that time represented a whole 'new future' and I bought into it big style, even down to the long grey overcoat that I wore everywhere when I started University a year or two later.
Student parties etc, and meeting up with talented friends, I soon discovered that I actually wasn't the only person in the world to still be into Foxx after the release of his third, and very disappointing album, The Golden Section. I'd found his Ultravox albums too by this time, and loved this even more than his solo work. As far as I was concerned, with TGS Foxx was in danger of selling out in desperate search of a 'hit single', and I was frustrated and disappointed. But my shaking faith was restored when The Tour was announced. I had started seeing live bands all the time by then, and the idea of going to London to see John Foxx was too good to be true. It was an inspiring time. In between Foxx shows I saw The Cramps, The Cocteaus and Siouxsie! I attended two gigs on that tour - the Dominion in October and then the last night of the tour at the Lyceum, during which I picked up a copy of the limited edition Lyric Book accompanying The Golden Section.
This is one of my most treasured possessions now, since I had the pleasure of getting it signed by John when I met him for the first time at Scala twenty years later! He remembered the booklet, and smiled nervously, commenting that he hadn't 'seen on one these for years!"
In Mysterious Ways then came out and again Foxx surprised me with another change of direction. In my opinion much for the better this time. Curiously, his 'disappearance' after that album didn't surprise or disappoint me - by then I too had moved on into a lifetime's relationship with, among others, Marc Almond, and discovered so much different music that I felt no sense of loss. At the time…
But in spring 2001, while running my business in a Factory-style open warehouse in downtown Southampton, I was playing a copy of The Garden. Some of the others guys in the building were into Foxx, and a girl walked in commenting on how much she loved that album. "Have you heard his new stuff?" she asked. "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaattt?!!" I think my reaction surprised even myself. Had I missed Foxx for all those years? Was he Almost There all the time after all?
She went on to tell me how much she and her brother had enjoyed the Exotour gig at the Brook. Half a mile from my house. In 1997, my daughter, less than a year old at the time, will forever be blamed for my inattention to local events during that period, curse her cuteness! So I whisked up to HMV and placed my order, but not for The Pleasures of Electricity, which was not listed (note to self - this will always be the way of it) but instead for TWO albums entitled Shifting City and Cathedral Oceans. Both albums were a revelation, the latter especially like nothing I had ever heard before.
What happened next? A blur. The only memory to take any significant form was my return to the Foxx live circuit at The Scala during the Crash and Burn tour in September 2003. I determined then to catch up with all that Foxx had done in the meantime, before and after. Thus began an intensive period of research, collecting and archiving that has taken over my spare time and been a labour of intense love and admiration. I began by packaging up all my vinyl to pay off some debt or other, but instead of selling it I traded with a long-term fan in Germany for a collection of Bootlegs and rarities. I'm still hoping my wife will forgive me one day! Next step was to transcribe all the lyrics to everything John ahd written, which brought me into contact with even more obsessive Foxx fans across Europe. Earned me a strange sense of respect. I couldn't believe no -one had done ths before? Leads. Connections. Figures down echo pathways. Travel by phone. Great people without exception, and I am eternally grateful for their encouragement and support.
Now it's 2007. Metamatic has been re-issued in glorious technicolour monochrome. The circle is complete.
Foxx has recorded something like 30 albums in the last thirty years and his work is the cornerstone of my collection. There's something for every mood, every direction, and still so few people have switched on. Perhaps that in itself is part of the attraction? Often overlooked. My respect for those that quietly do their own thing is enormous, and John Foxx is the very essence of that. He is indeed a liquid. Subtely changed by the forces around him, but always finding a way to flow around them and take new form.
And now it's spring time, on the moving stairway. Time to start again...
Favourite Foxx album - Tiny Colour Movies
Favourite Foxx track - In A Silent Way (Sideways)
Birdsong, October 2007
It was during the summer of 1981 that I began collecting LPs (years later to be replaced by CDs). It was the New Romantic/Synth phenomenon that got me interested in this art. By Christmas 1982 I had albums from Ultravox, Visage, OMD, The Human League, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. More albums were to follow during the festive season and I was also gifted, for the first time, with some music magzines, Smash Hits (not so girly then!) and the Record Mirror.
The 80s line up of Ultravox soon became my favourite band and I became interested in everything Ultravox. It was when I discovered titles like Three Into One on a record shop advert, and Dislocation, Slow Motion and Rockwrok on a crossword, that I asked a colleague of mine at the secondary school what were these tiltles about. He said, "Did you know that the lead singer of Ultravox before Midge Ure was John Foxx?" "John Foxx?" I whispered. I can't remember anything else but from that day I noted that name down. I went to the local record shops in Gibraltar, there were 3 during that time. One of the them stocked 3 or 4 copies of The Garden with the Church booklet. Then weeks later the same guy said "Did you listen last night to the Spanish radio, they had Europe After The Rain on". That afternoon, I went to the same record store and checked if Europe After The Rain was on The Garden LP, and it was. So I said to myself, "I'll buy this on Saturday, with 6 or 7 pounds of pocket money I have". That Saturday, around midday, I went to that record store in Main Street and bought a copy. It was a sunny morning and felt pleased as punch with my latest addition. After lunch, I gave it a spin and when Night Suit was playing I said to myself, "This sounds familiar. This is really great!". I quickly associated it with the Ultravox sound. I was very impressed. The atmosphere captured in this album reminded me of the gardens from my childhood.
I then ordered from the same record store the 7" singles of Your Dress and Endlessly. I was now beginning to listen to the Top 75 instead of the Top 20 on Gibraltar radio and managed to capture Your Dress, as soon as it entered the charts. I fell in love with that song. The Golden Section LP, Like a Miracle 7" and 12" and Your Dress 12" followed. I was slowly getting more and more into John Foxx. Before Christams 1983 I had Metamatic, Three Into One, Systems of Romance, Ha! Ha! Ha!, Ultravox!, Dangerous Rhythm and the Retro EP. The Garden, The Golden Section, Metamatic and Systems of Romance became my most played records. I was now a huge fan of John Foxx. In Mysterious Ways followed along with the 7" singles of Stars On Fire and Enter the Angel.
Then, John was nowhere to be found in the music magazines or anywhere else, Ultravox had disbanded and all that early synth music had all disappeared. I was lost. From the mid-eighties onwards and before the end of the decade the only synth music left was Depeche Mode and New Order, and with bands like Erasure, Pet Shop Boys and A-ha rekindling that fire. I just drifted through life aimlessly getting less interested in music. The odd 70s LP, Bowie, Roxy, Jarre etc being played in rebellion to the music of the late 80s' charts. After graduation, and after a year or so working, I decided to go on a walking holiday of Scotland and North England, just like John had done before the release of The Garden, visiting parks, gardens, places of heritage and dramatic landscapes. That's how much John had had an effect in my life.
I can't exactly remember, but it must have been during the spring or summer of 1997, that I picked up copies of Shifting City and Cathedral Oceans from Virgin in Edinburgh. I had discovered gold. I hadn't been buying records now for a couple of years, but I surely bought these in a swift automated move. I had been under the impression that John had retired completely from the music scene, except for the odd shot and paragraph in one of the music magazines re Nation 12 back in 1989/1990. Again, such a long time that I can't remember. I was amazed as the discs were published in 1995. I said to myself, " What have I been missing!", but then there were no more releases, until 2003, when I started corresponding with Rob Harris from Metamatic.com. I had now discovered the internet, that late. How embarrasing to admit this! Yes, there had been the Exotour that I sadly missed and other events and releases like the Cathedral Oceans concerts, the Modern Art compilation, The Pleasures of Electricity, the 2001 Edsel reissues and other releases from the same label.
Since Crash and Burn, I had picked up on every release with rejuvenated pleasure and have enjoyed the Metamatic and Ultravox Forums. I have met some brilliant fans to share all things Foxx and Ultravox.
I haven't met John before and I have never seen him play live... but one day, on Twilight's Last Gleaming, we'll meet.
Chris Celecia, October 2007
As a teenager, while my friends were chasing girls I was much happier sitting at home playing my parent’s collection of 1980’s pop and generally cramming as much music as I could into each day. I loved what I heard, which was mostly UK bands of the New Romantic/Blitz club era but I very quickly grew thirsty for more bands, more albums and the music magazines of the late 1990’s provided an invaluable point of reference. I would scan through the brief album reviews looking for any mention of the bands I Iiked or even just the 1980s itself.
One afternoon I came across a review of a compilation by John Foxx (This was before Modern Art in 2001 so it was probably for the Assembly CD) My eyes were drawn to the review as in about twelve lines the writer mentioned Kraftwerk (cool) Gary Numan (whoa baby!) and David Sylvian (I was pretty much obsessed with his group, Japan and their Quiet Life album) to top it off and support the writer’s bold claims was a Metamatic era photo of John and from that moment I knew I had to hear this guy’s music. This was in the late 90’s where music downloading was just taking off and it was through some determined searching online that I found to my delight, an MP3 of “Burning Car”. I will never forget hearing that track for the first time and being fascinated by the grim lyrics, the dark pulsing music and John’s unnerving voice that sent my already powerful imagination into overdrive.
The Internet was new to me at the time so I never considered overcoming the lack of music shops in my town through buying John Foxx CDs online but his name was planted firmly in my mind and upon moving back to my home city of Birmingham in the early 00’s, Metamatic was one of the first CDs I bought. Apparently “Burning Car” was no fluke and to this day Metamatic remains a favourite of mine not just for the songs themselves but also for the consistent, otherworldly atmosphere that puts me on the blurred boundary that separates this world from another, much more mysterious one. This album contains the two things I like most in art which is horror and camp/silliness. Later I got access to and came to appreciate John’s work with Ultravox! As well as The Garden album and even more so his 2006-2007 releases (especially From Trash) which reference the past, while in my view featuring some of his best material to date.
I still love most of the artists I discovered in my teens, but John Foxx is one of a handful still providing myself and other people with the kind of music that made them fans in the first place and for that I’m extremely grateful.
Favourite song: “Plaza”
Favourite album: From Trash
Favourite lyric: “Why aren’t you dissolving yet, and why’s that car always there? I got a letter from America, somebody else lost in the glare” (from “This City”)
I’m standing somewhere towards the back, upstairs at the Pressure Point in Brighton. It’s the end of July 2006 and I’ve just come back from a long summer holiday. Lots of happy people all around me, a promising crowd, the right sort of music is playing. I’m apprehensive though – I have no idea what to expect. It’s been a long time.
In 1978 I was a difficult teenager and found my solace, as almost all my contempories did, in music. I’d been given a little transistor radio for Christmas and it fitted neatly under my pillow. In this way, illicitly after my parents had gone to bed, I found John Peel, discovered the sort of music I was going to love for the rest of my life and heard Ultravox! for the first time.
Back at the Pressure Point the lights have gone down and I turn and make a face at my husband. What’s this going to be like? Will it be any good or just an inexpensive mistake? The crowd whoops joyfully; so many people, that was a surprise! And now I can hear a gentle wash of synthesised sound. A promising start....
John Peel eventually made me spend my pocket money on all the Ultravox! albums and I wasted much time in my bedroom staring out at the streetlights in my middle-class suburban street and imagining different worlds. When Metamatic appeared I was utterly smitten. Each track seemed to map some aspect of my life in Pinner perfectly, from the yellow streetlights to the cracks in the pavement. No-one Driving was quite simply the anthem to my angst-ridden existence and I couldn’t work out how John Foxx could have looked into my life and understood things so profoundly.
Now the synthesisers are building up the sound and are being joined by drum machine, and other noises. My apprehension is melting away, there are two banks of equipment on the stage and the tension is growing as the synthesizers hold a sustained note. I can hear a voice behind the noise singing a line and then the synthesizers unexpectedly swoop down several octaves and hit the bottom. I turn again to my husband and this time I grin with delight.
I continued to adore John Foxx for a couple of years, but in the eighties my interest waned. I didn’t much care for a lot of eighties pop music and I had a lot of other things going on. Somehow we missed his return to the music business in 1997 and it was only as we were checking out the gig listing in the window of our favourite music store in Brighton that we saw that John Foxx and Louis Gordon were to play the Pressure Point. It was cheap and very close to home, so we thought we’d take the risk. We had absolutely no idea what to expect. I wasn’t even totally convinced that it would be the same John Foxx. So many years had passed.
The synthesizers keep the note, and there are some pleasing piano-like sounds. Two figures stride onto the stage and take their places behind the banks of equipment as drum machines start to beat an intoxicating rhythm. I crane my neck and wish we’d gone closer, although it’s a small venue. The taller figure takes a breath, leans forward, and as a very familiar voice confidently starts to sing, my teenage self rushes up to greet me and I know from this moment on for certain that it’s going to be a very memorable night indeed. And yes, it is the same John Foxx, of course it is. I’m to go on to attend every show, to meet and chat with John Foxx, to make warm friends with like-minded people. But for now the crowd goes wild. And the world slides sideways.
Tessa Meijer, February 2008