Roxy Music gave us Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, influenced punk and new wave, and charmed a legion of musicians with their art of sonic collage: David Bowie, Chic, Grace Jones, Sex Pistols, U2, Duran Duran, Siouxie and the Banshees, Radiohead, Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand, and more.
So why on earth did it take Roxy Music decades to get their due? Apparently, art schools with a passion for animal prints, film and eyeshadow were “remarkably out of reach” for rock canon keepers, a bane that delayed Roxy Music’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. until 2019.
Now that Roxy Music is reuniting to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to (re)acquaint yourself with their deluxe and delightful catalog. Crooner and keyboardist Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera, oboe and sax scholar Andy Mackay and original drummer Paul Thompson will once again take the stage on tour, but production wizard Eno will be missed.
From 1972 to 1982, Roxy Music demonstrated a mastery of glam rock, experimental music and sophisti-pop, dabbling in doo-wop pastiche, country licks, medieval fare, disco and other genres in road course. While this is an album chart in itself, there are no real monstrosities in Roxy’s discography – even their releases with room for improvement take worthwhile risks that make them a listen. fascinating today.
8. Manifest (1979)
Roxy Music took a brief break in the late ’70s for much-needed R&R and solo projects. Manifesto, their 1979 return to the stage, is truly a transitional album, wading through both punk and new wave without the confidence of their earlier work or final albums. While Roxy’s spangled cacophony informed both the Sex Pistols and The Clash, their reaction to the very punk movement they carried was far more muddled, never quite reaching the thunderous heights of Ferry and co. are capable of.
On the positive side, Manifesto reinforced the group’s impact on the new wave: the single “Trash” became the club’s anthem, and fans of Roxy from Duran Duran to The Human League would soon find their own success. Manifesto really shines when Roxy is really having fun: “Still Falls the Rain” and “Cry, Cry, Cry” give enough pep in your step to keep you on the ballroom floor until the last heartbreaking dance of “Spin Me Round”.
seven. Failed (1973)
Failed, Roxy Music’s first album after the departure of Brian Eno, is also Eno’s favorite. Even though his absence is felt, Ferry took advantage of being the last Bryan/Brian Standing by beginning to detail the group’s brash animal print in white tuxedos, irony in seriousness, and rawness in hairspray.
Roxy’s transition period isn’t always obvious on Stranded. Ferry welcomes co-writers to his discography for the first time (Manzanera on “Amazona” and Mackay on “A Song for Europe”), perpetuating their experimentation. The album “Mother of Pearl” is a reveler’s fascinating search for love as well as a culmination of Ferry’s pun: “If you’re looking for love in a mirror world, that’s enough hard to find,” he sings. Only Ferry can make lamentations sound like lines.
6. Mermaid (1975)
On the other side of Roxy Music’s break is Mermaid. Let’s start by raising our glasses to “Love Is the Drug,” a sax-up smash that clicks heels, throbbing bass. Bryan Ferry turned a suggestive Andy Mackay instrumental into a glamorous nightclub adventure, earning the band their biggest hit in North America. Grace Jones then recorded a dizzying cover, and Nile Rodgers credits John Gustafson’s bassline with shaping the beat to Chic’s “Good Times.”
While “Love Is the Drug” is solid pop, Mermaid bears the cracks of burnout. Ferry says the band recorded much of the album late at night to meet the album’s deadline, and he makes their exhaustion clear on the synth wash of “Both Ends Burning.” When Roxy draws attention to songs like the soulful ballad of ‘End of the Line’ and the maelstrom of guitars in ‘Whirlwind’, you can’t help but be charmed.
5. Flesh + Blood (1980)
Roxy Music’s debut full-on new wave album is a synth delight at the cost of a consistent low end. Ferry’s smoothing of the edges of Roxy prompted drummer Paul Thompson to quit, leaving the band in three pieces. Losing their drum machine, Roxy tried her hand at drum machines, an experiment that works on the heart-pounding breakout single “Over You” and the chilling beat of “Same Old Scene.”
The romantic title track, “No Strange Delight” and “Running Wild” are flesh, soft synths, keys and piano as delicate as lovers’ sighs. In a Roxy first, the album features two covers: a suave rendition of Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” and a not-so-suave version of the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High.” Still, Flesh + Blood got Roxy Music’s invitation to the 80s cocktail party, an aperitif worthy of their upcoming swan song.
4. At your service (1973)
At your service parallels the clashing personalities of Ferry and Eno, swinging between Ferry schmaltz and Eno soundscapes in disorienting fury. Bry/ian’s bad blood resulted in Eno’s departure from Roxy Music that same year, but hey, the ouster ultimately gave us the groundbreaking ambient artist and producer we know today.
Ferry now recognizes Eno as an “essential” part of the Roxy sound, and For Your Pleasure makes it obvious. There will never be a better blow-up doll song than “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” thanks to Eno’s violent exorcism of sound. Same At your serviceThe most direct moments of “Do the Strand”, “Editions of You” and “Grey Lagoons” are colored by cacophony. Intense if not cohesive, For Your Pleasure is a thrilling display of Roxy Music’s otherworldly abilities.
3. country life (1974)
Where Stranded Breaks In On New Roxy Members Eddie Jobson And John Gustafson, Followed country life shatters the glam rock stratosphere, a memorable, explosive and joyful peak in Roxy Music’s career. country lifeThe very cover of testifies to its spontaneity, an impromptu photoshoot with Eveline Grunwald and Constanze Karoli posing against car headlights after Ferry met the two friends at a bar.
Multi-instrumentalist Jobson wonderfully compliments Ferry’s melodramatic treatises on nightlife and romance with strings (from the raucous opener “The Thrill of It All”), piano (including the aptly named “A Really Good Time “) and chameleon keyboards (even fake harpsichord). on “Triptych”) throughout. Traversing everything from the phasing of tape and electric violin on “Out of the Blue” to aggressive funk disillusionment on “Cassanova,” country life stands out as Roxy’s most versatile and cohesive work.
2. Avalon (1982)
All the pressure on Roxy Music to break into North America resulted in the diamond of Avalon, a masterpiece of lush production and the defining album of sophisti-pop. Its namesake is The Island Where King Arthur Lays, an apt title for what would be the band’s final album. Much like the myth, Avalon is full of grandeur as well as melancholy. “Now the party’s over, I’m so tired,” sighs Ferry on the title track, a breathless bachelor until a great love draws near, culminating in an angelic solo from Haitian singer Yanick Étienne.
As much as Avalon is a sonic holy fortress adorned with falcons, Ferry’s writing is conversely the most vulnerable, arguing for romance on numbers such as “To Turn You On”. Manzanera and Mackay’s contributions are subtle but vital, co-writing “Take a Chance With Me” and “While My Heart Is Still Beating” respectively, soft rays of guitar and saxophone beaming through Ferry’s clouds.
1. Roxy Music (1972)
Fifty years later, Roxy Music’s art-rock blitzkrieg remains their greatest display of collective power. According to Ferry, most of the songs were nailed on their first or second take, a testament to their chaotic virtuoso. Roxy Music is stunningly visual, painting scenes of a loud party on “Re-Make/Re-Model”, old Hollywood on “2HB”, war on “The Bob (Medley)” and literally “Sea Breezes”. .
Roxy Music is also a big debut for Brian Eno, whose synthesizer and tape work reinforces their case for sound collage as a higher art. When Ferry asked Eno to “make this fucking thing sound like we’re on the moon,” he more than delivered the galactic serenade of “Ladytron.” It’s proto-punk, proto-new wave, proto 21st century pop – and it’s high time we corrected the rock canon to embrace Roxy Music as pioneers. The album and the band are magnum opuses.