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Roxy Music - Country Life CD (album) cover

COUNTRY LIFE

Roxy Music

 

Crossover Prog

3.67 | 210 ratings

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Rob The Good
4 stars A great return to form after a somewhat tepid album ('Stranded'). 'Country Life' harkens back to some of Roxy's earlier work, but at the same time expands their sound towards a more rock orientation. What makes the album work is that it still retains the artiness of Roxy's earlier albums, whilst being quite appealing and accessible.

The album begins with a Roxy classic, 'The Thrill of it All', in which Manza's rocking guitar is at the forefront. To be honest, it snarls. Quite a rocking tune then, which is hardly surprising since Roxy's rhythm section propels the song very nicely thank you. Personally though, I believe the high point of the song to be the string arrangements in the background - they really do add something. In the work of other artists, backing strings can be cheesy, annoying and downright pointless, but in this song they manage to be in front without being 'in-your-face' as it were, and compliment the song extremely well. I hardly need to mention Bryan Ferry's vocals here: they're excellent throughout the whole album of course! He sings with energy, conviction, but he doesn't take himself too seriously which is fantastic.

The next song we have is 'Three And Nine' which is, in my opinion, a fairly low point in the album. It's a bit of a nostalgic (it's about Bryan going to the movies as a boy) generic ballad marked by some harmonica and oboe. Alright, so it's not THAT generic then, but by Roxy's standards, it's slightly uninspired as it sticks to a formula and doesn't seem that interested in expanding boundaries or being overly exciting. So all in all, it's just too normal! That IS only my opinion however.

'All I Want Is You' is what 'Three And Nine' should have been! Poppy, but with energy and verve. Speaking of which, it has some fierce rocking guitar in the backgrounds, which is lovely. I must say, Manza's solo in the middle is fantastic. It even has some cute backing vocals towards the end "all I want/all I want"...however, the song is slightly overshadowed by the song it segues into, which is:

'Out of the Blue', definitely a Roxy high point and one of the album's best songs. Rollicking guitar, great vocals, some fairly frantic piano...it even has some nice synthesizer effects which will please those who REALLY miss Eno's stuff on the first two albums. Yes, very typically Roxy, but what makes this song is Eddie Jobson. Eddie contributes a fantastic violin solo towards the end, which bursts with so much energy it could be a nuclear accident. Eddie's seering violin pretty much sums up Roxy's high points as a whole - yes, pop with a difference. Excellent. You must hear it to believe it.

'If It Takes All Night' is the other low point of the album - personally, I find it a bit too singalongish, with piano that sounds like it was ripped out of the Wild West complimented by some country guitar. Indeed though, if this is your bag you'll love it. Not utter rubbish by any means, but from Roxy we've heard better.

'Bitter Sweet' is another great moment on the album. A song which I brushed over at first, but grew to absolutely love and would always make my top 10 Roxy songs. It's one of Roxy's few attempts at a Cabaret song - one that owes as much to the Weimar Republic as it does to 'Casablanca'. Slow, deliberate and sooo sincere, Bryan's vocals and piano really make this a killer track. Some atmospheric synth in the background, great drumming and a couple of nice little oboe solo make the song even better. It also has a verse sung in German! Classic Art Rock.

'Triptych'...umm...yes. Personally, I love it. It's so strange, so unconventional and so intense. Once again, it's made by Bryan's vocals and keyboards (which now take on the guise of harpsicord I think). So much energy comes out of the chorus that it's almost unbelievable that the song wasn't performed live very often. Then again, in 1974 there weren't THAT many songs about Crucifixion where there? 'Triptych' is certainly one of Roxy's weirder moments, and is required listening for Art Rockers.

'Casanova' is a pretty nice rocker. It is, however, all over the place. What makes it is the band's energy. If this song were an animal, one wouldn't be able to tie it down and stop it from eating the Dahlias. What makes the song especially enjoyable for me is the keyboarding that goes on after the initial vocals. Nice and cruisy, which acts as an interesting contrast with the frenetic guitar and rhythm section.

The next song, 'A Really Good Time' is, like 'The Thrill of it All', a song that makes great use of strings. The song, on first glance is almost a generic ballad, but Bryan's vocals and the strings really make it so much more. He sings with so much conviction, but then again, doesn't he most of the time? In comparison with the rest of the album however, even the tasteful strings can't make this as trailblazing or exciting as tracks such as 'Triptych' or 'Out of the Blue' for example.

The album ends with a rocker, and a definite high note: 'Prairie Rose' has an almost country flavour to it, but Manza's guitar is so well done, and there is so much energy from everyone, that it works extremely well. It even has some slide guitar! Structure-wise, the song isn't all that amazing, but its infectious beat and rocking guitar make it a winner, and a fine end to a great album.

To conclude, "Country Life' is a great album which harkens back to Roxy's earlier two artier albums. It manages to combine some experimental aspects of these two albums whilst also retaining a feel of its own. Highly recommended.

Rob The Good | 4/5 |

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