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Roxy Music - Country Life CD (album) cover

COUNTRY LIFE

Roxy Music

 

Crossover Prog

3.55 | 132 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars WORST. ALBUM COVER. EVER.

The lower rating than usual doesn't just come from the album cover, though. Yes, the band was still basically in its prime, and the songs are still basically idiosyncratic and moody and rocking and whatever. Despite all this, however, I get a "going through the motions" vibe from this album that I don't get from the first three or from its successor. Out of the ten songs on here, there are two ("The Thrill of it All," "Prairie Rose") that I consider a lock for inclusion in my imaginary 'best-of' for the band, with one other going into the "probably included" pile ("Out of the Blue"). Otherwise, there's not a song on here that I consider essential, even if it's also true that I don't consider any of the songs out-and-out bad. They're just ... ok.

The six-minute "The Thrill of it All," though, is way way beyond ok, as it's easily one of my five favorite tracks from the band. It rocks in a much more stripped-down way than anything from the first three albums (a pattern that gets carried on the whole album), with just Eddie Jobson's violin (this is his first album with the band) contributing to a standard guitar-bass-drums-piano setup (with some very low-mixed sax in the slower part), but whatever I may miss in the sound is more than made up for by Ferry. No, really: it may seem redundant at this point to single out a great Ferry vocal performance, but this is Ferry's performance of performances (though I have to admit that I didn't really understand why so many people regarded this as much after I'd just listened to it once). The dirgey "ooooooooooooh"'s in the introduction and the longer instrumental breaks, the pleading in the slower parts (with those falsetto backing "calling you calling you calling calling you..."' parts), the phrasings in the verses ... At first, I wasn't particularly impressed, as I my thoughts were basically, "Oooh, he's emotional and heartbroken here, big deal, he's that way all the time." It took being away from the song for a while, having it suddenly pop into my head as I was grocery shopping at Jewel Osco (the Illinois area version of Albertsons, for you non- midwesterners), for it to hit me just how unbelievably gut-wrenching Ferry manages to come across in this song. This is something everybody should hear at some point, Roxy fan or not.

The closing "Prairie Rose" is also really great. I used to just consider it a decent rocker, but now I think the song is awesome in every way, from the main riff, to the vocal melody, to the great upward slide guitars in the chorus, to the great instrumental breaks, to the anthemic coda driven forward by the great piano riff that was there all along. Glorious.

Beyond this, though, it's eight tracks of a relative letdown. I'm fond of "Out of the Blue" because of the really neat backwards violin solo and the cool sounds in the introduction of the violin playing off the bass, but even the rest of this song seems standard, "unenlightening" if you will. "All I Want is You" is a decent rocker, as is "Casanova" (which at least has a clavinet, giving that nice 70's sleaze sound); there's some sorta countryish pop-rock ("Three and Nine," "If it Takes All Night," where Ferry shows that country just isn't one of his strengths); there's a track where Ferry reminds me way too much of Jim Morrison ("Bitter Sweet"); there's an ok harpsichord-laced "medieval" ballad ("Triptych"), and .. Uh, there's one more track and I can't remember what it is right now, so I won't bother to try. I mean, none of these songs suck, and they're all decent enough while on, but even after a lot of listens, I can't say any of these strike me as a "lost classic" or anything like that.

So basically, this is a collection of "kinda, sorta good" songs that just happens to also have two of Roxy's best songs ever and one of their trippiest. If you're a big fan of the band, you might love this, but if you're not I'd say you'd be just as well off finding the best songs on a compilation and leaving the rest alone.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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