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Joy (1967-1990)

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Album Review

Kurt Ralske claimed that the title of Ultra Vivid Scene's second album was meant to be the inscription on a 23-year-old woman's tombstone. While Ralske's lyrics still make Trent Reznor sound like Joris-Karl Huysmans (the S&M-tinged "Praise the Low" is a particular eyeball-roller, though the way the arrangement manages to sound both Celtic and new agey while not sounding the least like Enya is impressive), Joy 1967-1990 is a much more varied and even more pop-oriented album than 1988's Ultra Vivid Scene. Hugh Jones' ultra-glossy production, rather surprisingly, actually suits the narcotic haze of Ralske's songs quite nicely and has the added benefit of leaving Ralske's musings well behind the album's real selling points, the gossamer web of acoustic and electronic instruments and Ralske's knack for melodies that simultaneously sound exceptionally catchy and just a little off. Mention must be made, however, of the fact that "Special One" (which features vocals by Kim Deal) sounds so much like Big Star's "September Gurls" that Alex Chilton could sue for royalties.

Customer Reviews

Kurt Ralske's masterpiece

The first UVS album was chock full of interesting ideas and textures that foreshadowed a greatness to come. "Joy"realizes that greatness. Lifted up by great pop production courtesy of Hugh Jones (who produced other great 4ad bands' albums) "Joy" shimmers and rocks. Each song is a gem. I find myself coming back to this album at some point every year. If you like the idea of Jesus and Mary Chain fused with a rainbow of melody, then listen to this album. I love that I can't tell where the treated guitar ends and the cello begins on many of the songs. One of the best albums of 1990. One of my favorite of all time. Including the amazing Vaughn Oliver album art.

A true master-work

A timeless master work of neo-pop. Every song is truly wonderful... A must purchase for audiophiles.


Used to listen to this band in 1990 while in the Navy. Just stumbled across this awesome album on iTunes. Long time no hear!


Formed: 1986 in New York City, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Ultra Vivid Scene is Kurt Ralske like Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor. Although Ralske's atmospheric art pop could not sound less like Reznor's thudding industrial disco, the two are not that far apart in terms of aesthetics; Ralske's lyrical obsessions with such gothy standbys as sex, religion, and death make the band's three albums naturals for the mopey black-clad teenager in us all. Ralske was born and raised in New York; something of a musical prodigy, he was accepted into the Berklee School...
Full Bio
Joy (1967-1990), Ultra Vivid Scene
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Customer Ratings


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