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Roxy Music - Stranded CD (album) cover

STRANDED

Roxy Music

 

Crossover Prog

3.57 | 122 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
5 stars In my (and many other's, though seemingly not so much on this site) eyes, this is the best RM album, yet when I'm listening to it it isn't immediately clear that that should be the case. It doesn't really have any tracks that stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, it's not especially bizarre or "futuristic" sounding, especially in comparison to the Eno albums, and in fact it seems like pretty normal European "romantic" pop and rock that happens to be well-done. As one track after another passes, though, the power of the whole album becomes more and more obvious until anything but a solid ***** seems absolutely out of the question.

This album is so slick and rich that it's amazing to realize that these guys were the first people in rock to do anything along these lines. Yeah, I can hear the "blah blah blah innovation has no bearing on how good an album is" people now, but look; it's one thing to follow a cliche, it's quite another to invent a cliche. Furthermore, it's quite yet another to invent a cliche and use it at such a high quality level that it becomes obvious why so many people would have taken notice of it and latched onto it. This is now Ferry's band, and Ferry's singing on this album spans so many emotions and styles that he basically ensures this album a ***** on his own. It's possible that the opening "Street Life" would pass me by if the instrumental track were done by a different band with a different singer; as is, the hilarious inflections he comes up with "It can take. you. highYA than the Milky Waaaaaaaaay" and with "It can make you. feel. like you're losing your miiiiiiiiiiind" and with "loooooooooving yooou is all I can doooooooooooooooo" are enough to make it a classic. It is entirely possible that without his pleading falsetto I'd find "Just Like You" boring, an average piece of "romantic" fluff, but there's no chance of that happening in what ends up as an emotional classic. It's entirely probable that I'd find the un-ironic gospel of "Psalm" (especially at 8 minutes) unbearably dull if sung by somebody else, but here it just seems terrific.

I don't wish to give the impression, though, that this album is nothing but a piece of crap that's rescued by good singing (as I'm realizing could be inferred by my phrasing in the previous paragraph). "Amazona" stands out a little more than the rest, as it starts as a fun bit of latin dance-boogie (or whatever you want to call it), then goes into a slower croony part, and then gives time for Phil to pull out the sort of "flushing" guitar sound that comes from more processing than what's given to a tax return from somebody claiming his pet rock as a dependent. My favorite use of this sound would actually come later on "King's Lead Hat," but given that he combines this sound with an absolutely astounding adrenaline- pumping guitar break, this has got to rank right up there. And then back to the original latin sound, except with Phil keeping the sound going. Yeah.

The first three songs of the second half are all almost as good, though. "Serenade" is a perfect example of what I'm talking about when I say this album is "rich;" the pianos and guitars and whatever are given a perfect amount of echo, not to mention that it seems like there are layers upon layers of them supporting Ferry's croon. And man, there's just something extra moving to me about that little Ferry middle 8, though I don't really know why ... Anyway, "Song For Europe" is extremely dark and decadent and mournful, a mode that Ferry can seemingly do excellently even in his sleep, and even the parts of him singing/talking in Latin and French work marvelously. And man, those are some really moody saxes going off while he goes off into foreign language land.

Then there's "Mother of Pearl," which starts off as an up-tempo, fairly aggressive rocker with all sorts of chaotic Ferry overdubs ("comingroundthecornerWHOOOOOOOOO"), before settling into a slow piano-based ballad with Ferry singing/emoting marvelously (as usual). And oh man, that's one amazing chorus, and it's especially nice that the coda is nothing but a couple of overdubs of Ferry singing, "Oh mother of pearl, I wouldn't trade you for another girl" again and again.

Of course, the closing "Sunset" sucks, as it's really dull and really long (though it's ok as a mood piece), but that's just one blotch on an otherwise mostly-impeccable album. When I finished listening to this album for the first time, and I sat for a bit taking it all in, I realized very quickly why it was that so many (Even Eno, supposedly and surprisingly) have eagerly deemed this as their favorite Roxy album. Many others have tried to make many songs and albums like this, but few have come close to matching the richness and candor and just plain goodness of this. Get this first.

tarkus1980 | 5/5 |

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