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Roxy Music - Siren CD (album) cover

SIREN

Roxy Music

 

Crossover Prog

3.61 | 111 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Looking around other forums, I've found that a lot of people tend to consider this one of Roxy's two best albums, and this is an idea I heartily endorse. One thing kinda bugs me when I see some reviews of it, though (again, not in this forum, but in other places); there often tends to be quite a bit of praise for the album being so sleek and stripped-down and dancable. This isn't bad in itself, of course, but I always get the feeling that the implication of such statements is that this stripped-down, funkier state is a big improvement over the sound they'd had before, which was much more dense and tricky and insane. I mean, wasn't being dense and tricky and insane one of the main reasons people liked the band in the first place? I just can't help but be bothered by the idea that being stripped down is better in and of itself than being lush (I mean, just look at Manifesto), just as I am bothered by the idea that being lush is better in and of itself than being stripped down.

That's not to say I don't like the sound of the album, of course. It's just that I'm of the mindset that the sound works not because it's stripped and dancable, but rather works because it still sounds like this stripped and dancable music is being made by a freaking great band. The band is still tight as can be, the drum sound is terrific for this kind of music (for whatever reason, which I'm still not sure of, the drums are the first thing that really caught my ear on this album), and Ferry is still at the top of his game (much more consistently so than on Country, if you ask me). Furthermore, the sound is perfect for the "post- breakup debauchery" theme that runs through the album, and it makes the great pleadings and croonings come that much more alive.

Actually, come to think of it, the "dance pop" (or funk or disco or whatever) reputation this album has is kinda overstated, as there are only three tracks out of nine that I think would really qualify. Ironically, for all my rantings about funkiness not automatically improving something, these are my three favorite tracks on the album, though in a different order from how most tend to order them. Believe it or not, the infamous opening "Love is the Drug" is only my third favorite on the album; this of course means that it's a great song, with a fine bassline and amusing lyrics about needing to score his fix, but I honestly don't find it as addictive as so many others do. "She Sells," on the other hand, gets a no-hesitation thumbs up from me. What makes this song so great in my eyes is that, as overpowering as the funk breaks in the middle might be (and oh man, do they groove, accentuated by the great saxophone lines that had become underutilized by this time), they are *not* the main feature of the song, which is formed around this great sorta sleazy vaudeville piano theme and Ferry alternating a bizarre (even by his standards) croon with other great parts like where he goes into that robotic "con-sum-ing you con-sum-ing meeeeee" part. Oh man what a great song.

In my world, though, all on Siren bows down before the might of "Both Ends Burning." This is a disco-rocker that does both aspects proud, with great sounding background synth noises and a relentless groove that grabs me and never lets go (and believe me, it takes a lot for a dancable groove to grab me) while Ferry pulls out some more absolutely amazing vocal hooks. Look, I know it'll never happen, but if ever comes the day where I'm allowed to be a DJ for one evening, there is no doubt in mind that this would be the song I'd choose to be the closing send-off, as I really can't think of any song that would be better suited. I can also say that, on the 16-track Roxy Music compilation I made for myself, this was a hands-down choice to close it out, as it does an amazing job of leaving me wanting more (and wanting to put the compilation back on, natch).

There are six other songs on here, and they're mostly good. I could live without the really awkward, schmaltzy "Could it Happen to Me?" (possibly the WORST choice to stick between "She Sells" and "Both Ends Burning," as is the case here), but that's the only one I can gripe about. "End of the Line" is first-rate nostalgia (and with a great 'home-on-the-range' style harmonica to boot), "Whirlwind" is a marvelous pop-rocker whose opening gives Phil his best moment on the album (the wall-of-sound strummed distortion, I mean), "Nightingale" is a decent ballad, and "Just Another High" is pretty much the perfect philosophical end to the album (basically it's "great, the buzz is wearing off, and I'm still lonely. I miss her"). Oh, there's also "Sentimental Fool," which opens with a long stretch of creepy Eno-ish and Fripp-ish noises before going into another nice ballad with more nice vocals...

Ok, so the album isn't exactly spectacular outside of the three main highlights, big deal. It's really good, though, and those high points are easily high enough to guarantee this thing a high ****. Which is a lot more than I can say for the album that came into being after the band took a lengthy break ...

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |

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