Roxy Music was considered a pioneer in music from the moment he entered the scene.
They earned this distinction with their provocative record covers, lyrics influenced by classical art and film, and their ability to innovate in the field of pop music.
When it comes to glam-rock, they’ve never been as big as David Bowie in America, but Roxy Music’s fingerprints can be traced to Chic’s disco sounds, the late-1980s New York punk scene. 1970s and Boston new wave work. The Cars group. British artists including John Lydon of the Sex Pistols, Duran Duran, Morrissey and even Bowie expressed his admiration for the group.
The group was designed by art student Bryan Ferry. He will be joined by guitarist Phil Manzanera and saxophonist / oboist Andy Mackay. Drummer Paul Thompson (Concrete Blonde), keyboardist Eddie Jobson (Jethro Tull) and most famous ambient music producer and artist Brian Eno were among the other members throughout the group’s ten-year studio career. .
Roxy Music‘s self-titled debut album received a deluxe reissue for its 45th anniversary in February (which came out a year late, but who matters?). The New times has put together a beginners guide to the band and how their influence can be heard in music today.
“Re-do / Re-model”
Roxy Music, 1972
Making the first 30 seconds of your debut album’s opening track start off like it’s playing in the background at a cocktail party is a bold statement. It mixes elements of rock, jazz and classical in a clever package. Then there’s Mackay’s dizzying saxophone, Eno’s weird buttons on his synths, Graham Simpson playing the Beatles’ Day-Tripper bassline and the band shouting a license plate number for a chorus. . âRe-make / Re-modelâ succinctly expresses that every piece of music you will listen to from this moment on will never be the same. If you’ve ever heard of Roxy Music, you already know it. If you haven’t, you better get ready.
“Plain of Virginia”
Roxy Music, 1972
If “Re-make / Re-model” was trying to turn music into something artistic, “Virginia Plain” is what happens when style influences pop. With lyrics referencing everything from high-end cigarettes to Warhol’s muse Baby Jane Holzer, this song sort of sums up Roxy Music’s future for the next decade: bold experimentation, clever sense of humor, lightheartedness. of self and love for the iconic. More astonishing than Eno’s synth work is Manzanera’s impressive guitar (legend has it that he improvised his solo). Then there’s this question asked at the conclusion of the song that brings the festivities to an end: “What’s your name, Virginia Plain?” It’s a smart ending that makes you want more.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg70JeAkkHQ “The false man”
At your service, 1973
If Roxy Music’s debut album was a celebration of classic American cinema, then At your service was certainly his first foray into the German thrillers of the 1930s, until this fascinating nine-minute exercise in Krautrock. You can practically hear the dark shadows creeping over you at the start of the macabre “The Bogus Man”. Ferry sings of a sinister stalker who “clings to your coat” as Mackay’s saxophone vibrates like a siren over and over again, adding to the looming sense of dread of the track. It’s a wonderful nightmare brought to musical reality. You can feel Peter Lorre creeping up behind you.
“In every dream house, a heartache”
At your service, 1973
Ferry went from the anxiety to the exploration of the void that accompanies indulgence in the disturbing track “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”. The desperate singer recounts the most melancholy real estate ad ever as he searches for a room where he can find solace. There is company in the form of an inflatable doll floating in the pool outside. The menacing organ that plays for the first half of the song ends when Ferry sings his last words to his lover: “I blew up your body / but you blew my mind!” Manzanera’s guitar and Eno’s phasing techniques explode throughout the second half of this piece. The perversions of the rich have never sounded so funny.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwT_SbBtX8U “The mother of the pearl”
Having done all he could within the confines of Ferry’s musical creation, Eno left Roxy Music shortly after the release of At your service pursue a solo career. This allowed Ferry to steer his ship in directions that might not have drawn new lines on the musical map, but still felt fresh and adventurous.
The most astonishing example of her fearlessness is the seven-minute epic “Mother Of Pearl”. The song begins with theme where At your service left out: turbulent and gloomy. Then the tempo slows down, the piano kicks in and Ferry finds a companion who embodies the finest things in life for which he would give up his existence in the jet set. Romantic desire has been a lyrical theme that the songwriter has relied on throughout his career. It comes out loud and clear in this wonderful sound-layered number, which was featured in the indie film finale. SLC Punk.
Country life, 1974
It would be hard to ignore how Country lifeThe provocative cover art of, which features two women clad in sheer lingerie, almost overshadows the band’s solid work on the album.
But David Byrne was listening to the last track on the album “Prairie Rose”. It’s Ferry’s ode to his then-girlfriend Jerry Hall (yes, that Jerry Hall, who would leave Ferry for Mick Jagger and end up marrying News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch). The Talking Heads singer would use a vigorous number line as the title for his song “The Big Country”, which appears on their album More songs about buildings and food. Ferry wanted to compose “a song of praise” in Texas, Hall’s home state. Byrne is on a plane overhead and says he “wouldn’t live there if you paid me.” The producer of this Talking Heads classic was none other than Eno, so it would be reasonable to assume that some shadow was cast in the direction of Ferry.
“Love is the drug”
Hall would appear as an alluring mermaid on the cover of Mermaid, but it was the seductive opening bassline of “Love Is The Drug” that listeners on this side of the pond found irresistible. The single gave Roxy Music their first American hit. He also influenced musicians for years to come, mainly guitarists and producer Nile Rodgers. You can trace the funky beats of his band Chic back to Manzanera’s rhythm guitar and John Gustafson’s bass on this single. Rodger’s credits also include David Bowie, Duran Duran, and Daft Punk, proving that the legacy of Roxy Music and this song, in particular, continues to resonate over four decades later.
“Dancing far away”
Ferry put Roxy Music on hiatus so the band could work on other projects. The group came back with Manifesto just as the disco scene was exerting its influence on seemingly everything. “Dance Away” was one of those singles that could have been played at Studio 54, but still retained the DNA of what made the band so great: clever lyrics (“You’re Dressed to Kill / And guess who is dying “) and an elegant fusion of jazz and rock that raised Roxy Music above its peers who simply bowed to the musical fashions of the time.
You can hear Ferry’s weariness in the first line of Roxy Music’s swan song title song. He sings softly, “Now the party is over / I’m so tired.” But the unforgettable power of the song comes from the Haitian siren Yanick Etienne. Album producer Rhett Davies and Ferry heard his voice in the studio where they were mixing Avalon and knew they had to add his stunning voice to the album. She achieves those high notes with grace and finesse, allowing “Avalon” to rise above her mellow jazz tendencies to create an indelible single.
“More than this”
Sofia Coppola picked up on Ferry’s nervousness in “More Than This”, leading it to her 2003 film. Lost in translation. Bill Murray’s character expresses the sentiment well as he hums âIt was fun for a while / There was no way to knowâ at a Japanese karaoke bar. However, the original cannot be outdone. Roxy Music envelops the listener in this exasperation so well with chords of such haunting beauty that Ferry would spend much of his solo career trying to recreate what he captured in this song, with varying results.
For a more in-depth study, check out the film’s soundtrack Golden velvet. It features covers of early Roxy Music songs sung by Thom Yorke of Radiohead.