With the exception of his 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performance, British art rockers Roxy Music haven’t played in America since 2003. But the iconic band’s 13-date tour won’t bring him back. not just hitting American shores in September .7 — it will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roxy Music’s self-titled debut album, which took the music world by storm in 1972, with its eclectic mix of musical styles and flamboyant costumes. of the group.
Given that the group released eight studio albums between 1972 and 1982 – genre adventures ranging from exuberant rock and ethereal elegance to quirky cacophony and smooth ballad – it’s certainly a challenge for the hard core of the lead singer-songwriter Bryan Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera and saxophonist Andy Mackay to choose what to play. Beyond fan favorites like “More Than This,” “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” and their popular cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” one can hope lesser-played tracks like the upbeat “Whirlwind,” the medieval sound “Triptych” and the ballad “Chance Meeting” (with its eerie guitar vibe) could sneak into the shows.
“I’m always looking for ideas for the decor,” Ferry said. Billboard. “I have a lot of songs that you feel you should do. It would be nice to make a show of the darkest or deepest cuts, as you say, but I think audiences would be disappointed if they didn’t hear the familiar cuts as well. (Both Ferry and Manzanera agree with this writer that, among other things, “Manifesto” is an underrated track.)
“We have a list of about 30 songs that we’ve whittled down,” Manzanera explains. “We’re going to try them all and see what sounds good, then pick some others. Maybe replacements in different places. What I realized, and I think we all realize this, is that we have to play some of the [other] stuff because it will never be heard live otherwise.
Ferry hopes all three phases of the group will be represented. There are the first two raucous albums (Roxy Music and At your service) with influential keyboardist Brian Eno; the equally eclectic but slightly smoother triumvirate of Failed, country life and Mermaid with keyboardist-electric violinist Eddie Jobson; and, after the band’s hiatus in the late 70s, the final trio (Manifest, flesh and blood and the dreamer Avalon) with core members Ferry, Manzanera, and Mackay. These last three albums have featured various guest and session musicians such as pianist Richard Tee, bassists Alan Spenner and Neil Jason, drummer Simon Phillips and vocalist Melissa Manchester. Drummer Paul Thompson played on the band’s first six albums as well as their 2001 reunion tour (and will join the next), while Andy Newmark played on most of the last two studio releases.
Although Roxy Music and the solos of Ferry and Manzanera have toured with bigger bands (as they will this time), they want to be careful not to overdo anything, like stretching the songs too far. These last albums, in particular as Avalon, have been carefully sculpted to suit the vocal styles of Ferry and those of his bandmates who coalesce around them. Manzanera says he reviewed the multitrack recordings and studied his own parts to be as faithful to the originals as possible.
When Duran Duran honored the band by inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, bassist John Taylor said that without Roxy, there would be no Duran. As singer Simon Le Bon noted of the winners’ television debut at the ceremony, “The sound was a shock to the system – a psychedelic Sinatra singing pop-art poetry over drums, saxophones and oboes. Heavily processed electric guitars and the most amazing synthesizer parts you’ve ever heard.
The music world was unprepared for Roxy Music’s arrival. “When we started, we called ourselves ‘inspired amateurs’,” recalls Manzanera. “People looked down on us to some extent because we didn’t pay our dues. [David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars] and Roxy Music’s debut album came out on the same day in June 1972. For Bowie, it was his fifth album, and we came out of nowhere, fully formed. He wonders what the glam pioneer must have thought of the young upstarts. When they met him, “He was so sweet and kind, but it was quite a shock.”
Over the course of its recording career, Roxy Music retained its quirky vibe but gradually evolved into a more polished, and not blatantly pop, entity. He just kept exploring new perspectives and avoided sticking to a formula. In America, this translated into successes such as charting 11 albums on the Billboard 200, three of which reached the top 40.
Photography and graphic design were also very important to the band, from the beautiful models adorning their album covers to the gatefold vinyl of the 1973s. At your service with the group dressed in outrageous attire.
“It was so interesting in the past where you waited for your camera film to develop, to see if you had anything,” Ferry recalls. “I remember when we did the first cover of Roxy and the shoot, and we had to wait a few days for the film to be processed, and then watch it on a projector and think we’ve got something. I miss that excitement when we were sticking things together when we were doing album covers and everything was done physically. There was a tactile thing about it, which I liked.
Technological changes have not only eliminated this element, but also a sense of mystery. “I also liked that things were a bit private,” he says. “Everything is shared now. People film everything, and if you do a show, people watch it through their phones. It’s a bit weird. I love when there’s a sense of occasion, and you’re there for the evening and it’s a special time.
Although Roxy’s catalog covers a wide range of styles, Avalon remains the band’s most enigmatic album — highly atmospheric, lightly riff-based, ethereal and romantic. “It’s an unusual record,” confirms Manzanera, “and I don’t think I really enjoyed it at the time because I felt like rocking at the time. My antidote was [1982 solo album Primitive Guitars]. Ironically, it was reviewed in the same edition of rolling stone magazine, one after another. I could not believe it. I was slightly embarrassed. I found it at Sydney airport when we were on tour, and I didn’t show it to the others. Then we didn’t work together for 18 years in terms of live. We seem to be able to get together and play these songs live, and it unifies us because they’re fun to play.
“[There are] lots of love songs in there,” Ferry observes of Roxy’s production and her solo work. “Some of these songs are pretty sad. A lot of the music that I’ve loved from other people over the years, growing up, the sounds that drew me in, are the most melancholic things. I I tend to like dark, sad songs. It’s great to go through the repertoire and see one or two songs that stand out as different, like ‘Manifesto’, ‘Do the Strand’ and ‘Editions of You’. that take you to a different place. I wish there were a few more, but it’s nice to have that contrast in the material. Hopefully the [shows] will represent that – light and shadow.
Although the group has not released an album for 40 years, its work has always resonated with the following generations. Wolf Alice, 10,000 Maniacs and the Charlie Hunter Quartet with Norah Jones are among the many bands that have covered “More Than This”. Ferry even sang the tune when he played a nightclub singer in the 1929 Weimar Republic for the German TV series Babylon Berlin in 2017.
After its 2001 reunion, Roxy Music toured America again in 2003, as well as overseas in 2005 and 2010. It also toured internationally in 2005-06 and 2010-11. In between, Ferry, Manzanera and Mackay have been prolific solo artists. Ferry has a busy career – 16 studio albums, the recent EP love letters and touring regularly since 2001. The singer’s love of Bob Dylan showed in some of his early solo efforts and culminated in the 2007 covers album. Dylanesque. Manzanera has done a lot of production work, including on Pink Floyd’s The endless river, and he and Mackay recorded a few albums together. A second collaboration between Manzanera and Tim Finn, The Ghost of Santiagowill arrive on July 29. Many fans may not know that the title track from Manzanera’s 1978 solo album, K-Scopewas sampled for the Jay-Z/Kanye West song “No Church in the Wild” from their 2011 collaboration Look at the throne. Manzanera’s riff was slowed down for this tune, and he approved of the final result.
Despite Manzanera’s account rolling stone in 2014 that Roxy would probably never tour again, the core trio clearly found themselves drawn to each other. “It’s almost like a dysfunctional family,” Manzanera muses. “You get together and have a good time. Then real life kicks in, and you have wives, girlfriends, and family. You are busy doing something else. So, it’s 10 years of work for David [Gilmour], then you have a cup of tea with Bryan. “Oh, it would be nice to work together. Did we have a fight 20 years ago? I don’t remember why. So we are back to square one. . . there is simply no escape”, he finishes with a laugh.
“I guess there must be a lot of mutual respect,” Ferry offers, also laughing. “They’re both characters and have strong musical personalities, and I guess they’ve been supporting me for a number of years as well. see. I think a sense of humor always brings people together, and right from the start it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of hard work and touring and always rushing to finish albums. Sometimes you didn’t feel like the album was there. You had really tight deadlines at the time because you’re on tour next week. But [I have] very good memories, very positive memories of working together.
“Music can bring you together,” adds Manzanera. “It’s a kind of therapy for your brain and your feet, and when you play, it’s like meditating. If I’m on stage and I’m now playing with the other guys, I concentrate and fall asleep. I want to learn how to play it so I don’t think too much. I’m just playing and enjoying this moment.