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ROXY MUSIC

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Roxy Music picture
Roxy Music biography
Formed in 1971 in London, UK - Hiatus 1976/1978 - Disbanded in 1983 - Reunited intermittently 2001/2011

A band Oscar Wilde would certainly have approved of: retro-chic extravaganza, a cross between sophistication and street-wise 20th century dandyism. Their music was scarcely anything more than well-dressed 70's pop, oozing with hollowed-out sensuality and presented via original artwork, stage shows and wild costumes that crystallized the hippest style of the day. Scratch beneath the glamour, however, and you find some very talented artists, some of whom went on to pursue highly successful (if not necessarily prog) solo careers. They were led by composer, singer and visual artist Bryan Ferry. Brian ENO (synths), Phil MANZANERA (lead guitar), Andrew MACKAY (sax and oboe), Graham SIMPSON (bass) and Paul THOMPSON (drums) completed the original line-up. Between 1972-82, they released 8 studio albums, 3 live cds and numerous compilation disks as well as a couple of box sets.

Of particular interest to prog fans are the eponymous "Roxy Music" and "For Your Pleasure", a sort of rock music potpourri with Ferry's 50's tinged vocals over distinctive 60's rhythms and 70's electronics. With the departure of Brian Eno, "Stranded" and "Country Life" became less experimental but still remained fairly adventurous. With "Siren", however, the band started abandoning their intoxicating blend of art rock and glam pop to concentrate on Ferry's suave, crooner persona. "Manifesto" and "Flesh and Blood", hardly deemed art-rock albums anymore, are mostly a series of concise pop songs with layers of stylish disco rhythms. With its romantic washes of synthesizers and Ferry's elegant, seductive croon, the band's last album, "Avalon", is a richly textured cd and a most graceful way to end the band's career. Among the live albums, consider "Viva Roxy Roxy Music" (76), a powerful document of the band at their peak featuring a cross-section of their best work, and "Heart Still Beating" (90) which features some of the best guitar solos from Phil Manzanera as a ROXY member.

For a colourful segment of the 70's glam rock phenomenon, the first four albums are a must for any art rock fan.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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ROXY MUSIC discography


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ROXY MUSIC top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 363 ratings
Roxy Music
1972
4.15 | 356 ratings
For Your Pleasure
1973
3.64 | 222 ratings
Stranded
1973
3.69 | 245 ratings
Country Life
1974
3.67 | 205 ratings
Siren
1975
2.78 | 145 ratings
Manifesto
1979
2.88 | 151 ratings
Flesh + Blood
1980
3.72 | 237 ratings
Avalon
1982

ROXY MUSIC Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 81 ratings
Viva! Roxy Music
1976
2.95 | 27 ratings
Heart Still Beating
1990
2.35 | 9 ratings
Concerto
2001
4.27 | 35 ratings
Live
2003

ROXY MUSIC Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.32 | 15 ratings
The High Road
1983
4.00 | 4 ratings
Total Recall
1989
4.83 | 5 ratings
Musikladen / BeatClub: Live 74-75
2001
4.31 | 20 ratings
Live At The Apollo
2002
3.57 | 8 ratings
The Thrill of It All - A Visual History 1972-1982
2007
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Story of Roxy Music - More Than This
2009

ROXY MUSIC Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Greatest Hits
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
The First 7 Albums
1981
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Atlantic Years 1973-1980
1983
3.38 | 25 ratings
Street Life: 20 Great Hits
1986
3.56 | 13 ratings
The Early Years
1989
4.40 | 16 ratings
The Thrill of it All*
1995
3.08 | 13 ratings
More Than This, The Best Of Bryan Ferry + Roxy Music
1995
4.06 | 17 ratings
The Best Of Roxy Music
2001
3.08 | 5 ratings
The Collection
2004
4.94 | 7 ratings
The Complete Studio Recordings
2012
4.80 | 5 ratings
The Studio Albums
2015

ROXY MUSIC Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.67 | 3 ratings
Virginia Plain
1972
4.00 | 2 ratings
Do the Strand
1973
4.00 | 2 ratings
Pyjamarama
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Love Is the Drug
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
Trash
1979
3.00 | 2 ratings
Angel Eyes
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
Dance away
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Same Old Scene / Lover
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Oh Yeah
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Over You
1980
4.00 | 1 ratings
Jealous Guy
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Take a Chance With Me
1982
3.00 | 2 ratings
More Than This
1982
4.05 | 3 ratings
Avalon
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
The High Road
1983

ROXY MUSIC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Jealous Guy by ROXY MUSIC album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1981
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Jealous Guy
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars In 1981 Roxy Music made a tribute single for John Lennon who was tragically shot dead in December 1980. 'Jealous Guy' originally appeared on Lennon's album Imagine (1971). Bryan Ferry & co. are an excellent performer for this emotional song, and I have to say I prefer Roxy's version over the original, both for the vocals and the playing. The production is clean and sophisticated the same way as the Roxy albums Flesh + Blood (1980) and Avalon (1982) that sandwich this non-album single.

In my opinion Bryan Ferry is a whole lot better vocalist than John Lennon, and he really captures the passion of this regretful love song. His whistle solo is also fine. Phil Manzanera's elegant guitar solo is immediately followed by Andy Mackay's saxophone solo, both being very brief though. All in all the version remains pretty faithful to Lennon's somewhat weakly produced original. As a side note, I often feel a bit uncertain with my memory whether 'Jealous Guy' was a Roxy Music or a Bryan Ferry release. He released some solo albums already during Roxy's halcyon days, and concentrated on his solo career after the 1983 Avalon tour.

The B side offered a foretaste of the then upcoming final Roxy Music album Avalon: 'To Turn You On' is a good example of that album's finesse and charm. I've enjoyed Avalon since my youth and it's still much dearer to me than the 70's art rock output. Now, I'm faithful to my usual approach when reviewing non-progressive material and give a good rating for this single purely on the pop scale.

 Country Life by ROXY MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.69 | 245 ratings

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Country Life
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Second album without Eno for Bryan Ferry & Co. and in fact the sound is now quite different from the debut album, which is only two years distant. With the addition of Eddie Jobson the sound has become languid, glam-rock and decadent (and even less experimental).

The first song, "The Thrill of It All", as always, is a rave up that follows the heat of the openings of the first three albums: it's better than Street Life, but is less inspired, too mechanical in comparison of ReMake ReModel and Do the Strand - although it's a song with a beautiful effect (Rating 8).

The second song is a rather glossy and harmless romantic ballad, where a country harmonica appears, Perhaps too relaxed. Rating 7+.

The third song is the faded copy of Virginia Plain, played with enthusiasm, reproducing Manzanera's rattling guitar, which seems to follow a trajectory all his own, separated from the rest of the group. The song is not entirely successful but it has a lot of potential, and an overwhelming rock rhythm. Rating 7.5 / 8.

Out of the Blue tries to reproduce a ballad with a vaguely electronic background, as Brian eno did, and manages to create a very refined, almost thriller atmosphere, with a great work on percussion and bass (Thompson and Gustafson). The music flows pleasantly, and if it is not entirely a new sound (it recalls that of the previous albums), it remains a music of master class. Excellent instrumental coda with solo by Manzanera and Gustafson. Rating 7.5 / 8.

The first side ends with a typically English vaudeville, very ironic, a catchy country-pop with a very inspired Ferry on the singing. Unpretentious commercial music but beautifully arranged and performed perfectly. Rating 7.5.

Second side.

It begins with Bitter Sweet, the disc's masterpiece. Refined ballad where Gustafson and Ferry make a great contribution with the sound of their instruments, it turns into a neurotic German cabaret with Manzanera's rattling guitar. The pathos does not reach that of A Song For Europe, but we are at very high levels, which other groups can only dream for an entire career. Ferry is now an experienced and wonderful crooner. What class Roxy Music has! Rated 8.5 / 9.

The album, however, no longer reaches these peaks and ends in a dignified but not exciting way. The masterpiece of pathos is followed by three short songs, Tryptich, a ballad with an almost Renaissance arrangement and a goliardic chorus (ratings 7+), Casanova, another danceable rave up with rattling guitar arrangements by Manzanera (rating 7,5)

- once again there is a neurotic sound that overlaps the elegant architecture of the song, and this is exactly the peculiarity that makes the first 4 albums of Roxy Music great: when only the sense of elegance and decadence remains, you can see the class but not the talented inspiration, as in the case of A Really Good Times, an elegant piano ballad, arranged as always very well but not so inspired ( Rating 7+).

The end: a long final song that, however, fails to capture the atmosphere it pursues, perhaps the least inspired of all, rating 7.

Thus closes an album of rare elegance, with an exceptional care of the arrangements (better than Stranded), played by a band of virtuosos (Gustafson, Manzanera above all) - in which Mackay's sax is heard too little - and sung magnificently by one of the greatest British crooners, Country Life is not a real successful album. What Roxy Music have acquired in skill and experience, they have lost in inspiration and innovation, so the result is a refined and pleasant music but largely heard in the previous albums.

Anyway, it maintains a high level of quality: the final judgment is 8 or 8+/10 that is between three and a half stars and four stars.

Let's go with 4 stars. We are in front of a talented band!

 Roxy Music by ROXY MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.08 | 363 ratings

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Roxy Music
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by Hewitt

5 stars Roxy Music appeared to arrive out of nowhere, or possibly outer space, and this electrifying debut is proof that glam rock and progressive rock were not necessarily antithetical propositions. These dedicated dandies certainly wouldn't have thanked you for calling them a bunch of prog rockers but they came with plenty of prog baggage nonetheless.

Bryan Ferry famously auditioned to replace Greg Lake as singer in King Crimson (had he been able to play bass he might well have got the gig and the history of rock music would have been.. well, different, obviously) which led to Roxy sharing management with Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The nascent band were raved about by Richard Williams in the very prog-friendly Melody Maker and resident BBC hippie John Peel booked them for his show after seeing them support Genesis at a Wimbledon venue called, and you couldn't possibly make this up, the Hobbit's Garden.

Mention of Genesis reminds me that dressing up in silly costumes, wearing badly applied makeup, generally making show, and all the sort of things frequently regarded as quintessentially glam rock activities, were by no means alien to prog rock outfits. Just like Genesis, Roxy took great pains with the artwork, though I think it is probably safe to assert that Genesis, unlike Roxy, never included a credit for the band's hairdresser on the sleeve of any of their albums.

The record was produced, somewhat less than perfectly it must be said, by Pete Sinfield, lyricist of legend to such prog rock giants as King Crimson, ELP and Bucks Fizz. Perhaps they should have hired a producer rather than a lyricist to produce it.

No matter, the inventive fire in the collective belly comes across splendidly. This is Roxy at their rawest and most audaciously avant-garde. Much has been written of this record as inaugurating a new era of post-modernist pop as the band artfully Re-Make/Re-Model the (then not very long) history of rock music. This is undoubtedly true but the thought occurs that such eclectic fusing of genres and creative plundering of found styles was also the very essence of progressive rock. They keep everything fairly concise, the longest number is just over seven minutes, but much of it has an epic feel and several tracks are your actual prog rock suites, shapeshifting things of wonder that constantly confound the listener's expectations and, indeed, musical logic.

I've just listened to this for the first time in aeons and I'd forgotten how exciting it is. Heralded as ahead of it's time on release it is now simply timeless (what was the date again? 1972? Or another millennium entirely?). It still sounds like something from a parallel universe and, though one could argue endlessly about whether it is Prog Rock, you would be blessed indeed to come across music more genuinely and thrillingly progressive than this in any genre.

 The Story of Roxy Music - More Than This by ROXY MUSIC album cover DVD/Video, 2009
4.00 | 2 ratings

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The Story of Roxy Music - More Than This
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Band documentaries. I like watching them from TV, even if the band in question wasn't among my favourites at all. Be it ZZ Top or whoever I have zero albums on my shelf, it's entertaining to hear their story and excerpts of their songs. When it comes to music DVD's, documentaries admittedly are not as suitable for repeated viewings as the concert films. But the production quality is very varied. The worst are those cheapie things totally unauthorized by the band/artists themselves.

This documentary DVD (with subtitles, thank god!) is pretty good. The main show (52 minutes) was originally broadcast by BBC in 2008. It's a bit short, yes, but it proceeds very effectively. Despite being mostly put together from interviews, there's not a moment you get bored of the talking heads. All the original members -- plus Eddie Jobson who joined the group later -- share their memories. Other interviewees are pop musicians influenced by Roxy Music, a music journalist, the graphic designer behind the album covers... The focus is however always sharp on the band and its music, spiced up by brief but numerous clips from live performances and music videos.

I could pick up several interesting facts on e.g. forming the band, but I leave them for you to hear. Also the stylistic progress from highly original art rock to smooth and lyrically sparse elegance of Avalon (1982) is summarized well. What actually COULD have been dealed with to some degree is the long interim between the break-up and the return to the stage. What Bryan Ferry did as a solo artist and where other musicians have played. The programme only should have been at least 1,5 hours long in that case.

The DVD bonuses are fine. On the Extended Interviews section (29 min) I especially I enjoy the in-depth view at Roxy Music's glamorous album covers! The three songs from the 2006 gig in London are 'Both Ends Burning', 'Editions of You' and 'Do the Strand'. This DVD is very recommendable to anyone with even a mild interest for Roxy Music.

 Country Life by ROXY MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.69 | 245 ratings

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Country Life
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by Artik

4 stars The music is fantastic. Is it pop rock? Naaah. Is it prog? Hmm not exactly, but neither is most of Pink Floyd and to my ears this album is even more proggish than some PF albums regarded on PA as prog masterpieces. It's definitely art. It's unique and extremaly well crafted. It has rich arrangements (piano, brass, violin), clever, chalenging songs and quite a variety of styles blended together (one of the main features of prog) being very cohesive at the same time. And last but not least - it's highly enjoyable. 4,5 star rounded down to 4 as it's Prog Archives and prog element on this album is somewhat debatable.
 For Your Pleasure by ROXY MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.15 | 356 ratings

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For Your Pleasure
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

5 stars After getting backing from King Crimson at the time, Brian Ferry was lucky to get his band 'Roxy' (later changed to 'Roxy Music' since there was already an American band with the name 'Roxy'). He hardly even had a band together when he got signed with EG records, but King Crimson was so impressed with his vocals after a try out when they were trying to find a replacement for Greg Lake (but they felt his voice wasn't right for the KC material, and they were probably right), that they helped him get signed by the record company. Also, luckily, Ferry was friends with Brian Eno as they both shared a love of experimental music, and even though Eno could only mostly manipulate synthesizers, he still became a regular member along with some other members, but, right off the bat, there were problems with retaining a guitarist and bass player. The orginal guitarist Roger Bunn was replaced by David O'List and then soon after that, Phil Manzanera before the debut album was even released. Fortunately, Manzanera, of course, would remain with the band afterwards along with both Ferry and Andy Mackay, saxophonist. Ferry would also have even a harder time retaining a bassist, but at least Graham Simpson, the original bassist appeared on the 1st album. But, by 1973, when the 2nd album 'For Your Pleasure' came out, many bassists came and went. Still, it is quite amazing that the sophomore album would end up sounding as tight and amazing as it does, like the band had been together for many years. The album reflects none of this unsurety, but sounds very confident and has become a favorite among both critics and fans alike.

The interesting experimental yet danceable music sounds so smooth and original, even after all of these years. Ferry had already established his strangely, suave persona, almost sounding like a cocky, Bowie-esque sound even this early on. 'For Your Pleasure' only cements the unique and recognizable sound that was established in the debut, self-titled album, still progressive and still quite easy to enjoy. The music is interesting and oddly accessible in its own right, but that experimental edge makes it even more attractive. 'Do the Strand' touts a new style of free-style dance comparing it's style to other dance styles through history in a melody that is at-once quite catchy. 'Beauty Queen' emphasizes Ferry's tremolo in his voice that somehow should be annoying, yet it nevertheless leaves you wanting more of it. 'Editions of You' is another favorite that stays with the listener with its memorable melody, the strange 'In Every Dream Home a Heartache' which is a song about a blow-up doll, the long dance beat track 'The Bogus Man' is about a stalker, but the lyrics are forgotten with the long instrumental section that emphasizes the talents of Manzanera and Mackay. 'Grey Lagoons' features a fast, almost boogie style style and the blazing sax of Mackay and Ferry trying out his style on a harmonica before Manzanera takes over with a rocking solo of his own. The title track is probably the oddest track of all and features the stylistic influence of Eno more than any of the other tracks on the album.

This album is a perfect example of what art-pop, glam-rock and progressive rock should be. Even though most of the rhythms are fairly straight-forward for the most part, there is still so much ingenuity going on around it all that no one can deny this is glam-rock progressiveness at its best. While it is true that the earlier Ferry vocals might take some getting used to, I think it is safe to say that they tend to grow on most listeners of Roxy Music quite well. Personally, I could never think of the band having any other vocalist without having to change their name. Ferry has ended up being one of my favorite vocalists, and he definitely has a vocal style unlike anyone else I can think of. This album is also one of my favorite Roxy Music albums, and I can easily give it 5 stars for its ingenuity and long-lasting appeal.

 Avalon by ROXY MUSIC album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1982
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Avalon
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I suppose prog listeners tend to prefer the early years of this art-rock/ glam-rock band, and of course there's a valid reason for that as they really were so unique-sounding and innovative, back when also Brian Eno was in the group. However, my preference is very clearly on the smooth pop elegance of the later albums in the early eighties. I was charmed in my teenage years by Avalon (the 1982 album), which I still enjoy a lot. Definitely among the finest pop albums of its time. Or of any time, actually.

The romantic, slow paced title track is probably the best known Roxy Music song -- to the large pop audience anyway --, perhaps not least for its beautiful music video. The sensualism is gorgeously finished by the female vocalise part. (Not my fave track on the album, though.)

The B-sider 'Always Unknowing' didn't appear on any album, but it's so good it wouldn't have been out of place on Avalon if there had been room for one more song. But that's the special pleasure with singles, to hear something not heard elsewhere. This song also is in a slow tempo and Bryan Ferry's vocals are pretty sparse in it. There's not much progression in the composition, but the playing is enjoyable, especially Phil Manzanera's guitar. The production is excellent. In my youth there used to be jukeboxes, and this single would have earned my dimes several times.

 For Your Pleasure by ROXY MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.15 | 356 ratings

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For Your Pleasure
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by kaiofelipe

5 stars For Your Pleasure is Roxy Music's most avant-garde record. The experimental impulse is largely due to the creative use of synthesizers by Brian Eno (in his last album as a member of the band), but also to Bryan Ferry's stylized vocals and unusual lyrics. The album opens with the frantic "Do The Strand", which sounds like an aesthetic manifesto in its lyrics: "There's a new sensation / A fabulous creation / A danceable solution / To teenage revolution". Together with "Editions of You", both songs have an energy and urgency that somehow anticipates the punk aesthetic. "Gray Lagoons" is another vibrant track, but unlike the two mentioned above it is predominantly instrumental, which makes room for Phil Manzanera's beautiful guitar solos. "Beauty Queen" and "Strictly Confidential" are slower and more romantic tracks, but they set the stage for the dark atmosphere that will dominate in the second half of the album, particularly in the triad of highlights "In Every Dream Home a Heartache", "The Bogus Man "and the title track. "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" contains lyrics that shows how a luxurious scenario can hide loneliness and an invitation to perverse desires - in this case, lust for an inflatable doll: "I blew up your body / But you blew my mind" . "The Bogus Man" is the most "Enossified" track, with nine minutes of hypnotic rhythm and weird sound effects. The lyrics seem to be a sequence of the adventures of the "Re-Make / Re-Model" stalker, but this time with darker contours, after all it is a sexual predator: "The bogus man is on his way / As fast as he can run / He's tired but he'll get to you / And show you lots of fun ". "For Your Pleasure", in its first two and a half minutes, seems to be a beautiful Ferry ballad. The final four and a half minutes, however, transform it in a disturbing and agonizing song - but in a sublime way. This title track ends in great style the best Roxy Music album - and one of the best art rock records of the 70s.
 Siren by ROXY MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.67 | 205 ratings

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Siren
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Bryan Ferry started out lampooning the suave and sophisticated image as lead singer of Roxy Music, but by the time 'Siren', the band's 5th studio album, came out, he was embracing it totally, and it was now his persona. This lounge style personality would also carry him through his solo projects. Taking advantage of this, Roxy Music moved to a more dance style sound, but still kept a level of complexity to their music.

Siren featured the classic lineup of the band with Ferry, long time guitarist Phil Manzanera, Eddie Jobson on keys and violin, Andy Mackay on sax, John Gustafson on bass, and Paul Thompson on drums. Many also consider Siren as being the pinnacle of the band's sound with their mix of sophisto-dance-prog rock. Even though the music after this album would definitely move to a more slick dance sound, this was were their sound was perfected.

'Love is the Drug' is the song that increased the band's popularity in America and they were able to find rabid fans quite quickly. The critics also loved the album, some putting it on their 'best of' lists for the year. Bryan Ferry had involvement in every track, however, the other members also were able to share in the credits in 5 of the 9 tracks, creating some nice levels of variety and sound. 'Sentimental Fool' leaned more to the new sound they were moving to, but did so quite cleverly, while 'Whirlwind' sounds more like a track from one of their previous albums. That mix kept the old fans around while new fans discovered their own pleasures in this unique style.

The elements that make the band so intriguing to me is Ferry's unique voice, the wavering tones that keep it Bowie-esque and sophisticated, yet so unabashedly loungy and cocky, showy and over-the-top at times, and the music moves so well around it creating layers of complexity around this art-pop sound. This music would go on to influence so many bands to come and still does, but just like the music, it wasn't an overnite sensation or a fad, but something that overtime influences a band here and another one there. But, at the same time, they took this sound themselves from Bowie and other British bands, but Roxy Music perfected it and make it 'sophisticated'.

Even after the growing success of the band and the accolades it was receiving, the band decided to disburse after the tour was over. Ferry, Manzanera, Jobson and others went on to either solo or other projects. But this breakup would only last for a few years and in 1978, the band would return with a slicker sound that would continue to attract the new and retain the old fans. Somehow, this change never messed up the reputation of the band and most fans made the transition willingly. Jobson and Gustafson wouldn't return with the band however as Jobson had found success with UK and other more experimental projects. We would be replaced with two keyboardists; Dave Skinner and the ever-popular Paul Carrack, who seems to pop up everywhere.

For those interested in discovering this band, this might be the best album to do it with. Then you can decide if you want more complexity and progressiveness, you can go backwards in time in their discography, or if you would rather go for the more art-pop, slick and rhythmic sound, then you can move forward in their discography from here. Either way, you will be rewarded with some amazing and unique music and will find music that is appealing to you. The position this album finds itself in makes it essential for both fans and newcomers alike, but also to lovers of progressive music as a standard for this style of sophisti-prog music. For everyone else, it is an excellent and important album for the band and for prog in general.

 Country Life by ROXY MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.69 | 245 ratings

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Country Life
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Released in 1974, "Country Life" was the album that was showing Roxy Music fitting into their glam rock style quite nicely. The addition of Eddie Jobson (Frank Zappa, UK) brought a smooth sound to the somewhat harsher and colder sounds of their previous albums (provided by Eno), and even though those albums were great of their own accord, this sound was bringing a new layer to the band. Bryan Ferry was becoming the crooner he would be known for, and his vocals were starting to feel like butter dripping off of a stack of syrup covered hot tamales. The music still had it's complexity, and some of the rough edges were still there, but the music was also acquiring some pop sensibilities.

On this album, Phil Manzanera's guitar work was spot on, still heavy when it needed to be, but also taking on that unique smoothness that he would become famous for. Andy Mackay's sax work also remained important to the overall sound, again taking on a certain smoothness, but also becoming unhinged from time to time, just like Manzanera's guitar. But everyone knew it was Ferry's vocals and keyboards that held it all together.

There was still room for Jobson's violin among all of this, and he got to shine especially on the track "Out of the Blue" especially in the crazily swirling climax of that song. It was a good foreshadowing of his work that would be coming up in the band UK. The happy, almost honky-tonk piano on "If It Takes All Night" also proved that Ferry was taking this band into different territory with this danceable rock and roll track. There were no tricky rhythms here, but there was still that almost over-the-top flamboyancy in the attitude of the song, all of the instruments and vocals sounding like they were barely balancing on the line of sanity. The more progressive song "Bitter Sweet" proved that there was still a huge creative edge still with the band. The track travels from a beautiful and emotional beginning on the verses which each time grows to a wild unhinged drumming sounding like polka on steroids and ending up with more unhinged guitar work, only to calm back down again. It's like a romantic evening with a madman.

Even though we started seeing hints to the future direction of the band here, it is still obvious that their feet were still firmly planted in the progressive sound. Just like the music of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, there was a certain appealing oddball-ness to the music. This is apparent in the version of "Casanova" on this album which is a sort of critique on the hollowness of the jet set. The music knows that it is criticizing the very sound that it is emulating, but again, there is a huge sense of unease about it all. Jobson's strings return on the pleading strains of "A Really Good Time", it is just what that track needed to pull it into the popular-yet-complex sound that band was shooting for.

The overall album is great, but not quite their best. However, it is an album I enjoy to an extent, still excellent enough and just challenging enough to be memorable. The new sounds are great, even if they are not quite as complex as before, there is still plenty of unhinged craziness to the more anchored tracks to help you know you are still listening to the same band. I love that living on the edge of insanity feeling that the music gives the listener, and that is why I still consider it an excellent album.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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