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Roxy Music - Roxy Music CD (album) cover

ROXY MUSIC

Roxy Music

 

Crossover Prog

4.02 | 196 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A work of art?

Roxy Music are primarily known as a singles band, having enjoyed great success in that market with what seemed at one time to be a never ending stream of hits. They were one of the major bands of glam rock, their image appearing at times to be as important to them as their music. The imagery can sometimes mean that the substance of the band is overlooked. Perhaps history has therefore been unfair to Roxy Music, as their early albums in particular demonstrate that there was often more to their music than "Do the strand" or "Dance away".

The line up here includes many highly gifted musicians, most of whom would go on to become highly respected luminaries both within prog, and in music as a whole. The roll call includes such names as Phil Manzanera, Brian Eno, and Andy Mackay plus of course Bryan Ferry, all of whom were full band members of early Roxy Music. The signatures of the band are Ferry's unique, tremulant vocal style, and Brian Eno's synthesised processing of the guitars and wind instruments. All the compositions are credited to Brian Ferry, although the reality is clearly that the entire band were involved in the arrangment and development of the songs. The album was produced by Pete Sinfield, whose involvement appears to have been relatively low key, giving Eno all the flexibility and space he needed.

After the rather wandering introduction to the album with "Remake/Remodel", things slip quickly into gear with "Ladytron". If nothing else, the track serves as an early reminder of Roxy Music's prog influences. They may not have looked like a prog band, but they were quite prepared to draw from whatever sources were necessary at the time. The track has some wonderfully futuristic sounds, especially bearing in mind the album dates from 1972. Eno is clearly already experimenting with sounds and distortions causing the more traditional instruments to take on new forms of life.

"Is there something" starts off as a more orthodox blues rock song with twanging guitar and rudimentary piano, but develops nicely through some sax and oboe. The latter half has some good old fashioned mellotron sounds complementing emotional vocals. "2HB", which completes side one, is a downbeat, rather meandering affair which borders on the ambient.

Side two opens with "The Bob" (nice title!), a piece which is either extremely complex in structure or completely lacking in structure, depending on your perspective. It certainly changes style with admirable regularity, but the end result is a disjointed, unsatisfactory piece. "Chance meeting" slows things right down again, being essentially a piano and vocal piece with sundry guitar effects. "Would you believe" sounds at first like a drunken ballad, before the pace is suddenly lifted and an echoed straight rock'n'roll number pounds forth.

At 7 minutes, "Sea breezes" is the longest track on the album. The title is poetically appropriate, the track being mainly soft and peaceful. It's another rambling piece with little to make it memorable. The album closes with the brief "Bitters end", another soft, downbeat number with lounge bar sound effects.

As I have the original LP version, the superb single "Virginia plain" does not feature in the track listing, something which would be addressed once it had become a surprise hit.

Bearing in mind this album was recorded some 35 years ago (at time of writing), it is remarkably forward looking while paradoxically drawing in many retrospective influences. The unique sounds and styles it presents can be challenging even now. While the album does not really work for me as a whole, it does have its moments. There is no doubt that this is the album which put the Art into Art Rock.

Being the band's first album, it was also the first to feature a glamorous model in a seductive pose on the sleeve. Such images would become the trademark of the band's albums, and a familiar indication of the product.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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