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Roxy Music - Country Life CD (album) cover

COUNTRY LIFE

Roxy Music

 

Crossover Prog

3.68 | 213 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Released in 1974, "Country Life" was the album that was showing Roxy Music fitting into their glam rock style quite nicely. The addition of Eddie Jobson (Frank Zappa, UK) brought a smooth sound to the somewhat harsher and colder sounds of their previous albums (provided by Eno), and even though those albums were great of their own accord, this sound was bringing a new layer to the band. Bryan Ferry was becoming the crooner he would be known for, and his vocals were starting to feel like butter dripping off of a stack of syrup covered hot tamales. The music still had it's complexity, and some of the rough edges were still there, but the music was also acquiring some pop sensibilities.

On this album, Phil Manzanera's guitar work was spot on, still heavy when it needed to be, but also taking on that unique smoothness that he would become famous for. Andy Mackay's sax work also remained important to the overall sound, again taking on a certain smoothness, but also becoming unhinged from time to time, just like Manzanera's guitar. But everyone knew it was Ferry's vocals and keyboards that held it all together.

There was still room for Jobson's violin among all of this, and he got to shine especially on the track "Out of the Blue" especially in the crazily swirling climax of that song. It was a good foreshadowing of his work that would be coming up in the band UK. The happy, almost honky-tonk piano on "If It Takes All Night" also proved that Ferry was taking this band into different territory with this danceable rock and roll track. There were no tricky rhythms here, but there was still that almost over-the-top flamboyancy in the attitude of the song, all of the instruments and vocals sounding like they were barely balancing on the line of sanity. The more progressive song "Bitter Sweet" proved that there was still a huge creative edge still with the band. The track travels from a beautiful and emotional beginning on the verses which each time grows to a wild unhinged drumming sounding like polka on steroids and ending up with more unhinged guitar work, only to calm back down again. It's like a romantic evening with a madman.

Even though we started seeing hints to the future direction of the band here, it is still obvious that their feet were still firmly planted in the progressive sound. Just like the music of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, there was a certain appealing oddball-ness to the music. This is apparent in the version of "Casanova" on this album which is a sort of critique on the hollowness of the jet set. The music knows that it is criticizing the very sound that it is emulating, but again, there is a huge sense of unease about it all. Jobson's strings return on the pleading strains of "A Really Good Time", it is just what that track needed to pull it into the popular-yet-complex sound that band was shooting for.

The overall album is great, but not quite their best. However, it is an album I enjoy to an extent, still excellent enough and just challenging enough to be memorable. The new sounds are great, even if they are not quite as complex as before, there is still plenty of unhinged craziness to the more anchored tracks to help you know you are still listening to the same band. I love that living on the edge of insanity feeling that the music gives the listener, and that is why I still consider it an excellent album.

TCat | 4/5 |

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