Something of a 'forgotten' work in the Ferry canon, Bete Noir repays seeking out if it passed you by. Its a dense, moody recording, with Ferry' songwriting in good form and his voice sounding good against the swirling mix. My personal favourite is the delicately swirling Zomba with its plaintive vocal but the opening track Down In Limbo run it a close second.
Bryan Ferry's second best solo album of the 1980s. Carrying on from where 'Boys & Girls' left off, Bryan Ferry continues to offer his stock in trade: immaculately produced pop/rock love songs wrapped in smokey atmospheric tracks like 'New Town' and 'Zamba' or creamy up-tempo numbers like 'The Right Stuff', 'Limbo' and 'Day for Night'. This is more dance-orientated but did not produce a chart hit unlike 'Slave to Love' from the Boys & Girls' album. It was rumoured at the time that the song 'Kiss & Tell' was written in response to Jerry Hall's autobiography which had come out not long before. All the usual Ferry trademarks are here: eye-catching artwork, clever lyrics, and slick production values provided by Ferry's faithful team including Patrick Leonard, Bob Ludwig and Simon Puxley and another impressive roster of session and guest musicians including Guy Pratt, Dave Gilmour, Andy Newmark, and 80s hot boys Johnny Marr and Courtney Pine. You can't go wrong with Bryan Ferry, whether it's a solo offering or anything in the Roxy Music cannon. 'Bete Noire' is intelligent elegant dance music to which you can tap your toe while dreaming of romancing beautiful women in Parisien nightclubs before returning at dawn to the Georges V to make 5 star love between crisp cotton Egyptian bedsheets.That's the sort of world 'Bete Noire' transports the listener to, dancing all the way.
Bryan Ferry spent most of the 80s wallowing in the sound that he had created on Roxy's Manifesto LP. It was an almost seamless journey through 'Dance Away', 'Oh Yeah', 'Avalon' and even onto some of the other 80s solo material such as 'Slave to Love'. Don't get me wrong, these are all great songs and I still love them to this day, but Ferry really needed to change direction and he did so with his Bete Noire. Johnny Marr from The Smiths plays guitar on the first single released from this album 'The Right Stuff'. I just love the enthusiasm with which Ferry booms out the catchy chorus. The follow up 'Kiss and Tell' has more of a clubby feel to it, but you'll find yourself singing along to this too. I'm not quite sure how to describe 'Limbo' but what the Ferry fan really needs to know is that it's different from the songs with which he found greater commercial success, but you'll like it just the same! No Ferry collection can be complete without Bete Noire but, trust me, you will not just be leaving this in your CD rack next to 'Boys and Girls' for the sake of completism.
As a kind've converted fan to Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry back in the 1980's, for some reason I never brought this album upon it's original release! Maybe I thought Bryan couldn't maintain the standard after his Boys and Girls album, but more fool me and how WRONG I was! Only now in 2010 have I listened to it, and just like Flesh and Blood, Avalon and Boys and Girls does music from the 20th Century still SOOOOOO hold up in the 21st! The man's a marvel! So much so, that I've just sent all 4 of these mentioned albums to an Iranian friend as a birthday present! So why delve into anything hyper analytical...? In today's music of glossy mag - knicker singers - and cynical Simon Cowell karoke, I think the brillance of yesteryear about sez it all don't you??? Ha.
No more to say really than vastly underrated album which really captured the moment of the mid-late 80's greed/glamour/nightlife era. I also like the dark feel that runs through out the album. Released in November 1987 shortly after the Stock Market Crash and Great Hurricane that toppled South East England. This album captures the apocalyptic feel of that autumn in the UK together with PSB's Actually. New Town is is a great track and the whole album an interesting latin inspired departure from the triumphant Boys and Girls from the summer of 1985.
Along with some other bands, Bryan Ferry & Roxymusic are one of the few which I completely collect. Kiss and tell and The right stuff are the two singles which appear on this album. This is certainly not the best album which he made but the groove feels like the album "Boys and Girls " which is one of his best albums. For many years Avalon & Boys and Girls together with three " best of " Albums were the only CD's in my collection of Bryan Ferry & Roxymusic. My sentiment forced me to get the rest of the albums along with "Bête Noir ". Which is no disappointment. However, for people not too familiar with Bryan Ferry I suggest you buy an "best of " album. These are really good and give you an idea about all the musical directions Bryan can go.
'Bete Noire', along with 'Boys and Girls', is Bryan Ferry at his creative peak, and so well recorded too,so that Hi-Fi buffs will also be impressed,even if they are not Ferry Fans !!! If you hav'nt got these two in your record collection, just buy them. You won't be disappointed.
This album was first released in November 1987 it was his seventh solo release, and was the first for his new label Virgin.
Bête Noire reached number 9 in the U.K. album charts the track Right Stuff was the first single released and peaked at number 37 in the British singles chart. The collection has several co-writing credits including Johnny Marr of the Smiths fame and another with Madonna's producer Pat Leonard, guitarist Chester Kamen and the bassist Guy Pratt.
Most of the 10 tracks follow the same sound first started earlier in the Boys and Girls recordings even to the point of using some of the same high profile musicians such as David Gilmour and Marcus Miller.
The original mastering was done by Bob Ludwig the re-mastering work was also done by him at Gateway Studios Portland Maine this 1999 re-master which is now HDCD encoded and comparing the 87 pressing with the 99 re-master to my ears this recoding now sounds warmer and more detailed.