docker-compose base version as build attribute

As shown on in the official doc: https://docs.docker.com/compose/compose-file/#args and on this post: docker-compose 1.6 "args" attribute on "build", you can pass arguments from docker-compose to the build process.
But, I can’t figure out how to pass directly the base version. The Dockerfile must start with directive FROM, and your argument is available only after calling ARG your-arg-name.

Does anybody know of a solution to perform this? FROM ubuntu:$UBUNTU_VERSION?

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