Category: Roxy Music

Roxy Music – Country Life

ARTIST: Roxy Music                             220px-Roxy_Music-Country_Life

TITLE: Country Life

YEAR RELEASED: 1974

CHART ACTION: #37 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: The Thrill of It All, All I Want Is You (#12 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Out of the Blue, Prairie Rose, Bitter-Sweet, Casanova

LINEUP: Bryan Ferry, John Gustafson, Eddie Jobson, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, Paul Thompson.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The record that Roxy Music was building up to since they formed.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This record has everything: energy, elegance, sophistication, dirty-sounding guitar, sex, Germans, alienation, and Bryan Ferry’s quintessential detached observational vocals and lyrics.

The players are all on top of their game, with Phil Manzanera’s guitar shining, Eddie Jobson’s violin and keyboards adding distinct color and flavor, and Paul Thompson’s solid and intricate drumming. Ferry even adds harmonica (!).

Not only was this their first Top 40 hit in the US, it set up for Roxy Music to have some imprint on the singles chart the next year. The drive of “All I Want Is You” and “Casanova”, the chaos of “The Thrill of It All”, the German oom-pahs of “Bitter Sweet”, and my personal favorite Roxy song of all time “Out of the Blue”, featuring Andy Mackay on oboe, Thompson and John Gustafson’s rhythm section work, Manzanera’s dirty guitar during the chorus, and great production by Chris Thomas with the flange.

This is hot and cool at the same time. The album cuts and the singles all co-exist into one outstanding package.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Several countries censored the album cover. Sigh.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A+: The pinnacle of art-rock.

Roxy Music – Stranded

ARTIST: Roxy Music                        Roxy_Music-Stranded

TITLE: Stranded

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #186 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Street Life (#9 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mother of Pearl, A Song for Europe

LINEUP: Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, Eddie Jobson, Paul Thompson, John Gustafson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Rebounding quickly after Brian Eno left, Roxy Music moved toward a more streamlined, glamorous sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While Brian Eno’s synthesizer swoops and swirls added unpredictability to Roxy Music, the core of the band was always the cool, calculated, European sound. New keyboardist, the just 18-year old Eddie Jobson, adds more of a classical feel to his piano and organ, and also adds violin to certain songs, giving the group even more of an elegant flair.

Bryan Ferry’s vocal croon with his vibrato were very unique in rock music at this time. This adds another layer to the cool, sound. Phil Manzanera’s guitar and Paul Thompson’s drums anchor things in rock, though. Manzanera’s solo in “Serenade” reminds you that this is a rock band.

The Euro-centric sound and style would mean Roxy Music wouldn’t become mainstream over here in the 70’s, but they were very influential for many musicians in this era, even punk rockers.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The cover was the UK Playmate of the Year Marilyn Cole.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: They took the Eno years and built on them, becoming more song and pop oriented while maintaining their uniqueness.

Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure

ARTIST: Roxy Music                       Roxy_Music_-_For_Your_Pleasure

TITLE:  For Your Pleasure

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #193 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Do the Strand

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Editions of You, In Every Dream Home a Heartache

LINEUP: Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, Paul Thompson, John Porter.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Roxy Music’s second album is an improvement in both songwriting and production.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Roxy Music’s second album became a touchstone for glam, new wave, and even punk rockers with its arty style, dedication to their craft, and the ability to cross through to many audiences. It’s also weird.

Brian Eno’s very involved here, with solos and effects blaring out of his VC3. Andy Mackay’s saxophone is untamed at times, blaring over the songs with abandon. Yet, Bryan Ferry remains calm and cool as usual, crooning over the mayhem but lifting his voice when it calls for (like in the choruses of “Do the Strand”). Ferry’s vocals during the mayhem of the title cut, and the outlandishness of “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” also warrent mention. Paul Thompson’s strong drumming also anchors the tunes.

The issue in the US is that glam was just a fad, and Eno’s and MacKay’s wanderings weren’t received well. Yet it was our loss. The album may not have been able to break the airwaves, but it’s combo of art and glam make for an exciting listen, even during some of the artier sections.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: As usual in the UK, the lead single “Pyjamarama” wasn’t on the album. That hit #10 on the charts over there.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A:  There’s some arty bo-ho stuff that makes my head wander, but this is a solid album for glam and new wavers.

Roxy Music – Roxy Music

ARTIST: Roxy Music Roxy_Music-Roxy_Music
TITLE: Roxy Music
YEAR RELEASED: 1972
CHART ACTION: #10 UK
SINGLES: Virginia Plain (#4 UK) (not on original pressing, but on US and future UK pressings)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Re-Make Re-Model / Ladytron
LINEUP: Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, Paul Thompson, Graham Simpson. Rik Kenton replaced Simpson on bass for Virginia Plain.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Arty-glam-progressive rock which turned a lot of heads thanks to Eno’s weird soundscapes and Ferry’s cool vocals.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first album of Roxy Music is definitely a trip for those who remember their more danceable incarnation, or even their mid-70’s hits. It definitely was…something.

What was the same was Ferry’s cool vocals, the trappings of style and glamour and the musicianship. What was different? Eno and his crazy synths, and Mackay had pretty much carte blanche with his woodwinds as well.

The style of the band was inspiring to glams and punks alike, as well as the notion that you could craft anything into your songs and make music bend to your whims. Some of the indulgences are a bit much, and they do take away from the flow of the album. It may not be the best place to start your Roxy Music experience (well, maybe “Virginia Plain” is a good intro) but it’s quite interesting for all of its idiosyncrasies.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: When they recorded this album, they didn’t have a contract, and so their management paid for it. When they were signed, they recorded “Virginia Plain” for a single. That single helped move the album on the charts, even though it wasn’t on the album at first. That’s how it worked in the UK.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Kinda, the US version and all subsequent versions have “Virginia Plain”.

GRADE: B: It’s a definite benchmark in glam and all kinds of UK music in the 70’s, but sometimes the weird stuff gets in the way of the songs and the sequencing. I like about half of it, really.