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Roxy Music - Roxy Music CD (album) cover


Roxy Music


Crossover Prog

4.05 | 274 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 Stars ~ ROXY MUSIC's eponymous debut, while borderline Prog, is a milestone in Art Rock. The thing that makes this band so excellent is that they aren't limited to one genre or another. While some Prog bands will noodle on for twenty minutes playing with time signatures and polyrhythms, ROXY MUSIC manages to be just as (if not more) experimental, while staying in the pop song structure. ROXY MUSIC experiments with pop, Glam, prog, jazz, and even country. The band's music is made up of many dissimilar pieces, that amazingly manages to sound both avant-garde and retro. First off, the dominating feature is Bryan Ferry's unique vocal delivery, which has been called "Vampire Crooning". His voice alternates between seductively romantic crooning and frantic gasping. It is an interesting blend. Ferry owes much to the 50's cabaret singers, but still sounds very modern. His musical foil within the band is the enigmatic Brian Eno, who provides synthesizers. Unlike many keyboardists of his time, Eno let's his synths sound completely electronic and 'synthesized', not mimicking strings or flutes. This adds a very futuristic sound to ROXY MUSIC's retro leanings, and it is no wonder Eno is much more influential than others from his period. Andy McKay is one of the most underrated saxophonists in prog, coming from an avant garde backround, McKay adds even more experimentalism to the mix, alternating between smooth sax lines and feverish honking. Phil Manzanera is an excellent guitarist, and is able to mould his sound to fit each song perfectly, switching effortlessly between Country, Jazz, and Rock, sometimes mid song! Paul Thompson (Drums) and Graham Simpson (Bass) are solid but do not shine like the previously mentioned four.

The album kicks off with the ambient sounds of a cocktail party (no doubt courtesy of Eno) before changing into a full-blown rocker, one of ROXY MUSIC's best songs. "Remake, Remodel" could almost be considered the definitive song by this band, as it features both their smooth glam-pop and vanat garde leanings. Each band members shines on this track, and McKay's and Eno's solos are especially envigorating. "Ladytron" is more in the ballad vein, but features a beautifully textural synth introduction, before Ferry's vocals come morphing it into a 50's style pop song/avant garde hyrbrid. This song has some of Eno's best electronics with the band. "If There is Something" is my personal ROXY favorite, and comes very close to traditional prog. It begins as a country tinged slow rocker, but slowly picks up speed, as Ferry's vocals become increasingly frantic (even frightening), before smoothly morphing back into its original form. Andy McKay, again, shines with several dissimilar but appealing sax solo spots. "Virginia Plain" is the song where ROXY MUSIC gives in wholeheartedly to its pop leanings. Nonetheless, out comes one of glam rock's best singles. Driven by an incredibly catchy and inventive melody, this short piece of glam was ROXY's first big hit, and deservedly so. Every band member contributes very well to this song, but Ferry dominates. Side One closes with "2HB", one of their most decidedly lounge room-ish songs. Ferry's smooth vocals amble through this wandering song, which just sort of rambles contentedly for about 5 minutes.

While Side One packed a powerful punch, Side Two, while weaker has many classics as well. It kicks off with "The Bob", ROXY's most experimental song, (which unsurprisingly reeks of Eno). The song begins as a real hard rocker with crunchy guitar, before fading into an odd medley of World War II war sounds with sparse musical accompaniment. The song alternates between these war sounds and actual musical bits. (Manzanera's guitar is especially 50's styled on this song). [Note: the song is called 'the BOB' for Battle of Britain]. "Chance Meeting" is another Ferry ballad, but Manzanera has some real nice experimental guitar moments too. Overall, one of their weaker songs. "Would You Believe" is similar to "Chance Meeting", it is much stronger with some great jazz in the middle. Andy McKay's very American sax is wonderful on this song. "Sea Breezes" is a more ambient tune, which does have good moments but is a little drawn out and dull, despite its very avant garde arrangement. The album closes well with the short "bitter's End", a cabaret style song, (very 30's sounding) which returns to the cocktail party sounds of the "Remake, Remodel", and closes the package nicely. Bryan Ferry's voice is perfectly wistful and subdued on this wispy song. A fitting end to an excellent album.

ROXY MUSIC's debut really is one of the finest rock debuts, and most innovative. They merge so many distinct sounds it is hard to compare them. At least in their early years, they fit just as nicely under the label prog as they do glam. They would get less experimental and more mainstream as Eno would leave, and Ferry would have complete control, but this 1972 album remains a timeless masterpiece. Extremely reccomended to all prog fans, as a symbol that prog does not just mean long, complex songs, it means Rock innovation. And ROXY MUSIC has it here in abundance.

NetsNJFan | 4/5 |


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