Roxy Music songs, according to Bryan Ferry, were underrated

When Roxy Music burst onto the UK rock scene in 1972, people didn’t quite know what to make of what they were hearing and seeing. The flamboyantly dressed collective was difficult to categorize. They certainly shared much of their DNA with the prog-rock movement, but their style, thanks to that alluring croon from Bryan Ferry, also pointed to the burgeoning glam-rock craze championed by David Bowie and Marc Bolan.

Where prog-rock took a tedious path of experimentation in the mid-’70s – in stark contrast to the punk movement – artists like Roxy Music and David Bowie were punk luminaries, with Sex Pistols among countless later acts citing them as primary influences.

In the case of Roxy Music, the band grew through eight progressive studio albums over ten years, split into two distinct eras. Between their 1972 self-titled debut album and 1975 Mermaidthe band introduced an unprecedented art rock sound with the initial involvement of synth maverick Brian Eno.

In 1976 Roxy Music disbanded while Ferry worked on a few solo projects, and when they reunited in 1978 the band’s sound began to follow a new trajectory. This direction was one of waning experimentalism and focused on smoother, more polished compositions that would inform the new romantic era of the 1980s. This second chapter for the band reached both its conclusion and climax with 1982’s Avalon.

This year, Roxy Music has reunited for a tour across North America and the UK to celebrate its 50th anniversary. In an interview with the Guardian earlier this year, following the tour announcement, frontman Bryan Ferry talked about some of his favorite Roxy tracks.

At the start of the interview, Ferry was asked to name the album he is most proud of. “The first album was interesting and obviously pointed in many different directions, but [1973’s] At your service was a big album for me,” he replied. “We had been on the road and were much more experienced and integrated. We recorded in Air Studios with engineers in lab coats above Oxford Street with people running below. It was like the center of everything. The album just seemed more mature: darker, with better vocals.

“Today my other favorite is Avalon, ten years later: very different, a real ambient album, very atmospheric,” added Ferry. “Maybe the Manifest the album is not as strong as the others. Of course there’s ‘Dance Away’, but there are songs – ‘Trash’, ‘My Little Girl’, ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ – that I wouldn’t listen to now.

After identifying the 1979 comeback album, Manifestas one of the weakest of the band, the interviewer asked if Ferry felt any of their tracks had been “underrated” over the years.

“Sometimes less obvious songs get overshadowed,” Ferry said. “I thought the opening title track of Manifest – with Alan Spenner playing great bass – was very strong. I’ve done [1978 solo album] The naked bride with American musicians and was disappointed with the way it was received. Punk had arrived, and I felt out of step, so I wanted to come back more in tune with what was happening.

« ‘Sentimental imbecile’ [from Siren, 1975] and ‘The False Man’ [from For Your Pleasure, 1973] are also standout tracks that have never been played on the radio, but are great if people have the time to listen,” he added.

Listen to the Roxy Music tracks that Bryan Ferry says are underrated below.

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