Monday, September 03, 2012

Great Albums: 42 - Roxy Music (Roxy Music, 1972)

If I were giving proper credit, I'd have to give this album a more thorough analysis than a couple of paragraphs here.  In fact, there are single songs on this debut LP which deserve whole posts to themselves.  Is there a better opening quarter in music than 'Remake/Remodel', 'Ladytron', 'If There is Something' and '2HB' (well, yes, there are -  but not many)?  Is there a more ambitious single track in music than 'If there is Something' (probably not)?  Has a voice ever sounded as riddled with vice as Bryan Ferry singing 'Death could not kill our love for you' (not in popular music, no)?  Or as arch as the opening vocal on 'Strictly Confidential' (only - again - in Bowie's back catalogue)?

It's an uneven record, though not in the usual sense of good and bad.  More it's album that leaps all over the place in terms of style, tempo, tone and instrumentation both in between tracks and often within the tracks themselves.  'If there is something' starts as country twang in the style of the Rolling Stones and ends up as the sort of messianic cry that Bowie did so successfully at the time.  The frantic pop genius of 'Do the Strand' comes straight after the melancholy 'Sea Breezes' - though to be fair, the  'Sea Breezes' is as schizophrenic a track as anything else in pop, suddenly stopping the slow, sad keyboards about three and a half minutes in and changing into a different (though equally lonesome) song altogether, complete with stuttering, almost jokey vocal, jazz bassline, discordant, off beat drums and guitar feedback - then drops back into the initial sound for the final minute.  'In Every Dream Home a Heartache', menawhile is just bloody scary.

Roxy Music were the only artists in the seventies to get within touching distance of Bowie (and Ferry managed to out-louche even Dave at his most coked-up) - the fact this - their debut - is by a distance their best album possibly explains why they were never able to top him though.

Roxy Music on Spotify
If there is Something on Youtube


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Blogger TimeWarden said...

Do The Strand, Strictly Confidential and In Every Dream Home A Heartache are all songs originally found on the first side of Roxy Music's second album For Your Pleasure, which most claim to be their finest achievement.

The late Alan Freeman and departing band member Brian Eno, however, both prefer the follow-up Stranded, with Freeman declaring it Roxy's masterpiece at the time in 1973, on his Saturday afternoon Radio 1 show.

My personal preference is for Country Life, Roxy's fourth album, even if it doesn't really move the band forward in any way and is essentially Stranded Part 2!

But my favourite Roxy Music song is probably Sentimental Fool, which can be found on their fifth album Siren, and harks back to the kind of structures unleashed on their eponymous debut.

6:57 am  

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