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Roxy Music - Roxy Music CD (album) cover


Roxy Music


Crossover Prog

4.07 | 352 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I was stunned to come across the name Roxy Music while paging through Jerry Lucky's book 'The Progressive Rock Files'. The only thing I knew of this band was "Avalon", a video that had aired on MTV in the early '80s, the kind of soft pop balladry that had the Spandau Ballet hater in me raging against Lucky's inclusion of this act into his A-Z glossary of prog acts. But since I also discovered 10cc's several good art-rock albums via this book, I figured maybe there was more to Roxy Music's early days, and investigated in time. Though I think they started to lose the experimental/proggy edge by the time of their third album ('Stranded'), what I found on their second album, and especially their debut, was a broad array of sounds and approaches that equaled a whole that, if not pure prog, certainly fits right up there with the art-rock branch of bands like 10cc, Crack The Sky and Be-Bop Deluxe. I even hear some mid-'70s Amon Duul II in spots. Indeed, this band belongs in the prog family, at least at this early stage.

First, one has to get used to Bryan Ferry's crooning, which at this early stage had a demented edge, a kind of maniacal leer hiding behind the smooth, lounge-ready voice that would eventually dominate later albums. Despite a fairly straight-ahead bit of heavy glamour on opener "Re-make/Re-model", the album starts to show its eccentric colors with the linear freak-out of "Ladytron" and the six-and-a-half minute journey of "If There Is Something". These songs showcase the exciting synergy between guitarist Phil Manzanera and synth/tape/electronics operator Brian Eno. Things continue in a most oddball manner, certainly a left-field and distinctly unique approach to rock is heard throughout "Virginia Plain", "2 H.B." and "The Bob (Medley)". It's with "Chance Meeting" we get a taste of real prog-style layering, with Manzanera's non-guitarish sound effects sparring with Andrew Mackay's atmospheric, moaning sax. Next number "Would You Believe?" is the most throwaway song on the album, but things are repaired by "Sea Breezes", which gives this fascinating album another few layers of depth. Gray-day sadness permeates the atmosphere of "Sea Breezes", with Ferry's voice wringing out a moving bit of dark melancholy. The song is without beats for the first several minutes, Manzanera, Eno and Mackay laying down a gorgeous bed of sounds that evoke the sound of the title. It's a little disconcerting when the rhythm section of Graham Simpson and Paul Thompson break up the vibe with a series of heavy runs and accents, but then Manzanera's sick guitar strangling so totally distracts that it's like a whole other song. Ferry then swings everybody back to the original vibe of the song's first few minutes. An awkward arrangement, going from panoramic beauty to uncomfortable angular shifts and then back again. "Sea Breezes" is a masterpiece. The album ends with the Queen-meets-10cc nightcapper of "Bitters End", putting to rest an album that balances glamour, tragedy, adventure, experimentation and tradition. Recommended to prog fans whose idea of the genre expands beyond the typical Yes/ELP/Genesis definition.

slipperman | 4/5 |


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