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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Roxy Music July 28, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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In part because Brian Ferry played Dublin this weekend. Now, got to be honest, I’ve conflicted views on Ferry – in part because as Robert Christgau as far back as 1977 noted:

I’ve never thought average guys were compelled to ape the ruling class, I don’t believe romance is inevitably corrupted, and the collapse of European culture is long overdue. In short, what Bryan Ferry has to say has never spoken very loud to this listener no matter how you break it down. So while others may mourn the nuance and conceptual integrity of Stranded and Country Life and Siren, I get off on this compilation, which puts his dialectic on display in its most entertaining guises.

But then, as Christgau also noted, even at their most mellow, well post-Eno:

This isn’t Roxy at its most innovative, just its most listenable–the entire “West Side” sustains the relaxed, pleasantly funky groove it intends, and the difficulties of the “East Side” are hardly prohibitive. At last Ferry’s vision seems firsthand even in its distancing–he’s paid enough dues to deserve to keep his distance. And the title track is well-named, apparent contradictions and all.

And that’s the thing. I admire the early stuff without much liking it, but find the later period songs – that is 1979 to their first break up in 1983, oddly compelling. There were the singles which were a series of genuine pop moments, some touching on disco, some almost locking into the energy of post-punk (Over You), others tilting towards Japan and – inevitably – the New Romantic/Futurist scene. But throwing a spanner in the works I hate the visuals that Roxy Music framed the songs in, Ferry’s crooner persona, and the videos, dear God the videos (and the album covers weren’t much cop either – Peter Saville not withstanding).

But the songs themselves. That’s another matter entirely. At this remove I’m unsure as to whether simply being there when they were released means I’ve a greater tolerance than I might otherwise. As to the albums, I’ve a real fondness for Manifesto, and particularly Flesh and Blood and Avalon. And it’s odd their influence. It pops up in the strangest places – listening to a Church album a while back it struck me something sounded familiar.

Anyhow, from those last three albums, here’s a selection of pop classics.

Avalon

Dance Away

More Than This

Trash

Over You

Angel Eyes

Same Old Scene

Oh Yeah (on TOTP)

India (instrumental)

Comments»

1. crocodileshoes - July 28, 2018

Not an orthodox view. Favouring ‘Over You’ over ‘Virginia Plain’ is like preferring ‘Let’s Dance’ to ‘Life on Mars’ or ‘Another Brick in The Wall’ to ‘Arnold Layne.’ In 73 and 74 Roxy were the thinking man’s glam rockers but were getting a terrible press by the time of the Christgau article. They were probably the most important precursors of UK punk, but Ferry was seen as a class traitor by the music papers. I think Tony Parsons called him a ‘worthless human being’. (Tony Parsons!)
This was because of his perceived social climbing and ties to the fashion world (his ex-wife, Lucy Hellmore, died a couple of days ago).
Ferry’s done a lot wrong ( ‘Carrickfergus’, that pink jacket) but those first three Roxy albums mean a lot to those of us who were saving pocket money to buy them in the early 70s. I have a fondness for some of the later, FM radio stuff, like your choices, too.
And, when I’m in my seventies, I’d rather look and dress like Ferry than like Keith Richard or Iggy Pop. (Cedar Lounge heresy?)

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2018

Not heresy to me!

It’s funny, went along to the gig last night, at the suggestion of some friends – I doubt I’d have gone otherwise, and was kind of surprised how well all the music stood up bar some of his much much later solo stuff. The early songs sounded great live – in fact I’d be more taken with them now, very energetic, the later Roxy ones were equally good, the only stuff that was weak were the more AOR stuff from later on again which was kind of tastefully dull.

It was also lashing down and without question the wettest I’ve been at a gig.

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2. oliverbohs - July 28, 2018

Avalon is a brilliant album, a shining star in the 1982 constellation. Considering it’s about rich people tired of partying, or something, it’s full of epic sadness in every note, really amazing. It also doesn’t have the dodgy covers that marred Flesh & Blood.
Funny I got the feeling from songs off his last album that his pipes were done for, voice kaput. How was his singing?

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2018

Mostly okay though Let’s Stick Together was a bit ropy, not quite the power but for the smoother stuff and even the earlier songs not bad at all.

That’s a great point to the melancholy re Avalon

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3. James - July 31, 2018

My Aunt went to secondary school with Bryan Ferry in Newcastle and said he was very shy and very into America, wore converse.

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