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Roxy Music - The Thrill of It All - A Visual History 1972-1982 CD (album) cover


Roxy Music


Crossover Prog

3.56 | 7 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This comprehensive two-disc DVD delivers exactly what the subtitle promises: a visual history, warts and all, of arguably the most visual band of its era, compiled from various promotional videos, TV appearances, and archival concert footage. No interviews, no biographies, and no extra clutter whatsoever: just thirty-eight total songs, arranged in chronological order, all the better to chart the band's progress from primitive glam-rock dilettantes to debonair modern rockers with style and sophistication to spare.

Some of the early television footage is embarrassing in hindsight (in particular the typically cheesy Top of the Pops, with its clumsy gyrating background dancers), and most of these performances are merely lip-synched pantomimes. I would stand the camera crews and editors in front of a firing squad, for not following the music better: there's a lot of arbitrary cutting away to other band members during Phil Manzanera's guitar solos, for example, and too many close-ups of crooner Bryan Ferry at the expense of other, equally deserving players. And would it be wrong to admit that Ferry's awkward lounge-lizard stage persona gives me the creeps?

Still, these early selections offer an invaluable time-capsule chronicle of a bygone entertainment age. And diehard fans can dissect the evolution of Ferry's eye-liner throughout the band's formative years. The decadent fashions are a hoot too: what exactly is Eno wearing during "Editions of You"?

It's hard to say how primetime English TV audiences reacted at the time to a love ballad about an inflatable sex doll ("In Every Dream Home a Heartache"), or to the avant-stoner head trip of "For Your Pleasure", drastically abbreviated during its BBC appearance but at least performed live. Eddie Jobson's transparent Plexiglas violin is still an attention-getter, and is that ex-Crimson King John Wetton playing bass guitar on "All I Want Is You"?

The first disc captures the band's ascent to stardom, from 1972 to their hiatus in 1976. Disc Two picks up the history after their return in 1979 for the "Manifesto" album, and if the music here is less interesting it's only because the reformed group was more a vehicle for singer Bryan Ferry. Witness the early MTV-age video for the song "More Than This", performed by Ferry alone while Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay are reduced to occasional distorted images on a theater screen behind him.

Roxy Music had long since lost its androgynous edge by then, being introduced in one clip (during a Swiss TV spot, before performing the hit single "Dance Away") by the girls of ABBA, who call them "one of our favorite groups", hardly a cutting edge recommendation. But the historical value of the entire two-disc package can't be underestimated. It works as both a visual biography of an influential band, and a parallel history of evolving promotional video techniques.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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