During the last year of the 1970s, the debate over Roxy Music’s shift to a more overtly commercial sound, at least with their singles, was nothing new. The art-rock of “Virginia Plain”, “Pajamarama” and other early markers had since given ground to a more radio and club friendly style, as early as 1975 “Love Is The Drug”. It was no coincidence that it became their biggest UK 45 at that time, reaching No.2.
On April 28, 1979, the group hit the UK charts with another irresistible concoction that also landed in second place. “Dance Away” was the second single from their sixth studio album. Manifesto, and far from the electro-rock of the first, the only moderately successful “Trash”.
This track was attributed to both frontman Bryan Ferry and guitarist Phil Manzanera, but the sequel was written by Ferry solo. He gave off the air of romantic but dismal detachment that was his own, set to a light beat and with a killer chorus that immediately won over fans.
A solo song becomes a group hit
Ferry had the song in his locker for some time and had reserved it for the solo career that had taken hold since Roxy’s album in 1975. Mermaid. But that wasn’t over until the new album sessions, which were produced by the band themselves. Ferry also contributed keyboards for the recording, on which Manzanera’s electric guitar was complemented by Andy Mackay’s oboe and saxophone.
“Dance Away” opened at No.41, a relatively modest start that belied a climb to No.2, where it spent three weeks in May and June. The song that kept him out of the top spot all this time was Blondie’s “Sunday Girl”. The success of Roxy’s singles contributed to the return of Manifesto in the UK Top 10, where he made his debut in March. Having only spent a week there at No.9, he returned four more in June, peaking at No.7. The single and the album became gold records.
As always on the American charts, the group’s fortune is much more modest. Roxy had only made the Hot 100 once before, when “Love Is The Drug” had only reached 30th place, despite a 14 week run. Now “Dance Away” ran out of steam at # 44. At least there was the consolation of seeing Manifesto becomes the highest-ranked studio album in the US, in 23rd place. Billboard Called it “perhaps the best Roxy Music album of all time” and named “Dance Away” as one of its strongest tracks.
“Dance far away” is activated More than that: the best of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, who can be purchased here.