29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
One of the greatest debut albums, here in remastered,
This review is from: Roxy Music (Audio CD)
form. 1999 having seen a major set of remodelled (but not remade) reissues of the band called Roxy Music. As the recent Early Years set suggests, early RM were the definitive art-rock band, a blend of the alien, with perhaps a dash of Soft Machine or the Velvets; but there was nothing like Roxy Music (c'mon, Bolan & Bowie were mods, then hippes)- looking at the inner sleeve pics, Ferry is a Sci-Fi Elvis, Phil Manzanera is a leather fly armed with an axe, while Eno is beyond cool: a venus in fur?
This eponymous debut comes not only with an improved sound quality, but the addition of debut single Virginia Plain (though sadly other non-LP track Pyjamarama failed to come on this edition, or the reissue of follow-up For Your Pleasure)- rumoured to be a mistake (as the greatest songs sometimes are- see Blue Monday)- the droning synths overwhelm the song as it overloads toward the end. Still sounds like the future to me, Ferry rattling through rococo, if beguiling lines: what's her name?
The remainder is the original debut, from sax-inflected Re-make/Re-model- whose repetition of a number plate finds an influence on later post-punk songs like Joy Division's Warsaw & Wire's 12XU. One of Andy Mackay's key performances (alongside Both Ends Burning) it takes us to one of the great Roxy songs, Ladytron. The first time I heard this was on a Whistle Test repeat (perhaps one of those rock around the clock things from the 80s- I recall Ladytron, Virgina Plain & a wild take of Do The Strand where the band all ended up choreographed in a pose John Travolta would become famous for later in the decade...)- the blend of the alien and melancholy is overwhelming in the opening lines "you've got me girl on the runaround-runaround/you've got me all about town/and it's getting me down-getting me down"- a major influence on Japan (along with...Both Ends Burning), it would even give moniker to an odd band of the moment. As with Virginia Plain, Ladytron seems to pass from Ferry's sublime popsong (after the atmospheric opening later borrowed for Japan's Oil On Canvas take of Ghosts) to Eno's soundscape- which to this day still sounds amazing (& was followed up on the next Roxy album, as well as the solo releases Here Come the Warm Jets & Another Green World).
If There is Something starts off a little country, which is odd, before charting off into alternate directions- as with The Bob (Medley) and closer Bitter's End, there seems to be so many possibilities, so many directions- which is why I'd place this album and it's next two follow-ups alongside albums by Can & Neu! than I would Bowie or T-Rex. The final parts of If There is Something("when we were young") are impossibly moving- in that vague artrock way! 2HB is a wild ode to Bogart, the music a definite influence on Radiohead's Morning Bell (the Kid A version); an argument that the music is a formative example of drum'n'bass is not discounted. It is notable that members of Radiohead and Suede would re-record some of these tracks for the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack (while Bowie covered If There Is Something on the second and worser Tin Machine album, while Siouxie&the Banshees did Sea Breezes on their 1987 covers album Through the Looking Glass).
Chance Meeting's opening precedes many a Kate Bush song, with its stripped piano and oh so individual voice- really, if people think Radiohead are weird doing similar material in 2000, perhaps music tastes can be defined as "retarded". Would You Believe? (nice to see the question mark) sounds like a tryout for Beauty Queen- the boogie-woogie piano the most traditional thing here: the most ostensibly glam track, that could be located to the universe of The Sweet et al. Sea Breezes is another early RM classic, Ferry a maudlin type- alone, alone, alone- the way the song builds and builds- the seven minutes fly by and never seem enough (something that can be said of many a Brit bands prog-tendancies in the early to mid 70s- Kevin Ayers & Robert Wyatt excepted). Bitter's End is an unusual conclusion, ending before it seems to have begun: Roxy Music remains one of the greatest debut albums- ranking easily alongside such releases as The Velvet Underground&Nico, Marquee Moon, Horses, Crocodiles & The Modern Dance. Along with For Your Pleasure, Stranded and Country Life it showcases the brilliance of Roxy, prior to the second wave which was notably more stylized and sadly the favourite of many a permed footy player in the late70s, early80s. Nice to see them recovering their early mindblowing material alongside playing songs like Dance Away, Avalon & Jealous Guy. A key 70s album and one that no home should be without!
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Initial post: 29 Jan 2013 03:56:07 GMT
It's becoming a bit fashionable to overpraise this debut album, I feel. It certainly seems to come out of nowhere like a bolt from the blue, and yes I suppose it has been rather influential - visually and musically. But maybe its inventiveness is too here, there and everywhere to be fully cohesive as an album. It doesn't quite hang together. Individual tracks are superbly atmospheric, but for me the whole package does not have the controlled depth and exquisite morbid moodiness of 'For Your Pleasure' which I consider to be Roxy's masterpiece and one of the greatest rock albums to come out of Britain. 'Stranded' is another scorcher and 'Country Life' has its moments. After that it's all steeply downhill and depressingly mainstream, though 'Avalon' sort of works as a kind of smoochy, melancholy farewell. The cover versions of tracks from 'Roxy Music' work exceptionally well in the film 'Velvet Goldmine' and there are also some bits of early solo Eno.
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