on 5 November 2015
Roxy's 4th studio album (1974) is another interesting release full of fascinating songs including the hit singles 'All I Want Is You' and 'The Thrill Of It All' as well as several other well executed tracks such as the punchy rocker 'Casanova' (featuring some superb guitar work from Phil Manzanera and great lyrics from the masterful Bryan Ferry), the pretty Elizabethan flavour of 'Triptych' and the effortlessly smooth 'Out Of The Blue'. The contribution of the other main stalwart in the band, namely saxophonist Andy MacKay, is also quite brilliant. This is one of Roxy's finest studio albums and is well worth investing in.
Using girlfriends of the Krautrock bands that the ex member Eno admired for the controversial cover photo, Roxy managed on their 4th outing to preserve some of the driving power and skill of the superior, turbo-charged 'Stranded' but took things down a notch, a melancholy note can just be detected, this time a banal one though. This was to be the last time Roxy were a truly subversive, innovative force and they retained boy wonder Eddie Jobson, pinched from plasticky Curved Air, (a manufactured band, to be sure) who they'd been strengthened by, as players, to make the previous disc. Of the slower numbers I'll merely note that they have a bitter edge that perhaps suggests not all was right with Wor Brian but the two really wild guitar blasts from Manzanera, 'The Thrill of it all' and the only marginally less exciting 'Out of the Blue' are up there with the best heavy stuff that light-on-their-feet Roxy ever did. Best of all, we have the masterpiece, 'Casanova', with a haughty, imperious Ferry vocal and a guitar accompaniment that would put quite a few machetes to shame. In the fadeout he's still dropping bodies and a real 'bonus feature' would give us the minutes we hear fading, ears akimbo, in all their loud and certain glory; the boy Manzanera can play alright . It even boasts the album's Wilde- brilliant best line, one that I urge you to insert into a conversation this very day, "Casa Nova/Is that your name?/Or do you live there?" Perhaps the greatest put-down in rock and puts the tin lid on this, Roxy's last GREAT album
on 19 February 2008
I can't believe I have only just heard this album. Obviously I have been aware of it for what seems like ever due to its infamous cover, but this is the first time I've actually listened to the album and what a treat it is.
I've always liked Roxy Music, particularly the Eno era albums, but I've recently delved deeper thanks to Michael Bracewell's excellent Remake/Remodel book and the equally entertaining Both Ends Burning by Jonathan Rigby, (Both highly recommended if you want to swat up on the influences behind the first album and the a potted history of the band's whole career).
This, their fourth album shows signs of the more polished Roxy emerging which would alienate much of their early fanbase in the band's twilight years. But don't let that put you off, this is a great album that shows the range of styles that Roxy Music were capable of at this point and the world they created around their music.
The opening track, The thrill of it all, is one of the best album openers I can recall, and certainly as thrilling as it's title suggests. Bryan Ferry's confident vocals are an invitation to forget Roxy's previous artier outings and party basically.
Three and Nine is a typically English Roxy oddity which finds Ferry musing over the old days of cinema and possibly even foretelling the advent of the multi-plex. His passion for the old time movie stars has always been obvious and this is an opportunity for him to wallow in this for a few minutes. I don't like the arrangement of this at all, but the lyrics are undeniably charming. All I want is you, is Roxy at their very best, and this was a perfect choice for a single release. I've played this so many times in the last couple of weeks, it really is that infectious. Out of the blue is typical Roxy from this era, I love the intro to this and the rest of the song is pretty good too. If it takes all night is the only real low point for me, coming across like stodgy MOR pub-rock, clashing fairly clumsily with the rest of the album.
Bitter Sweet should sound horribly dated with its oompah faux German stomping, but it is still a treat. This is Ferry at his oddest vocally since the darker moments of For Your Pleasure, and the track is all the better for it. Manzanera, Thompson and Mackay come into their own at the latter end of the album particularly, and this is where the fun begins.
Triptych is the curate's egg of the album with its medieval arrangement, recalling for me at least the music from Peter Davison era Doctor Who. The album wouldn't be the same without it though.
I'm undecided about Casanova, as much as I like it it somehow never really takes off and Really Good Time comes all too soon. Returning to the celebratory mode of the opening track, whilst not quite letting his hair down to the same extent, Ferry offers an end of the party lyric, interspersed with what sound like excerpts from a martial arts movie. A great track that signals the end of the album in a highly appropriate tone.
Roxy pull out the stops for the final track, Prairie Rose. A rollercoaster song in which Ferry's wailings and yearnings for a Texan Beauty (Jerry Hall?) who is "tantalising" him, gives way to a showcase of all the band's talents. I first heard this as the B side of Big Country's East of Eden in 1984 and loved it then. The track serves its purpose by urging you to put the album back to the start and listen all over again, which is exactly what I've just done whilst writing this.
I'm loving The Roxy this year - join me!!
on 14 July 2016
A fine album, I have been interested with Roxy Music for a long time and this is compelling listening the tracks on this album are very good a bit weird but I like this a lot the cover sleeve is outrageous, but the rest of the album is good.
on 5 October 2000
Remembered by many for its rather lurid front cover, Country Life is even more revealing to listen to than it is to look at. Thrill of it all launches the listener into an album that makes far more ground than its predecessor Stranded. Ferry proves he can survive without the whirrings and synth of the enigmatic Eno. The great single All I want is you is here in all its glory and although far less experimentation went into this album, tracks like If it takes all night and Casanova show the Ferry genius at work and as if it were the lull before the storm Really good time chills the listener out before the powerful Prairie rose finishes the work. Like the models on the cover, caught in the act, this album freezes the Roxy experience, at a crucial turning point in their music.
on 10 February 2012
...This is a very good album. Roxy's fourth album but still retains some of the freshnesh of the earlier albums. It is very much a violin and guitar dominated album with Manzenara really putting his marker down on many of the songs. Also, Ferry's lyrics appear to be becoming more mainstream but there some quirky little tracks such as 'Bitter Sweet' and 'Three and Nine'. However the outsatnding tracks jump out at you once you play this album - The Thrill of it all, All i want is you and Out of the Blue are all fast guitar and violin infused tracks. A great album and, a famous cover......
on 17 April 2013
Another astounding effort from Roxy, really proving that Eno was not the soul member of the band to make them interesting and unique. Of course the band became less blatantly experimental after Eno left but if you listen carefully it is still there, lurking about in songs like 'Out of The Blue' which recalls Eno's use of synth, then there's the Germanic romp of 'Bitter Sweet' and the subtle instrumentation within Prairie Rose the stunning closer.
Country life also blends some more standard tracks but even they are classics in their own right, particularly the opening 'The Thrill of It All' boasting another masterful album opener and of course the single, 'All I Want.' Lyrically Ferry is also becoming a little more predictable, but his voice remains as wild, hedonistic and warped as ever, which has always been a key element to the eccentricity of the band.
Phil Manzanera, the guitarist is also given a real chance to leave his mark on this album, perhaps even moreso than on the earlier ones, where his guitar was always in thrilling competition with Mackay saxophone and oboe. He really brings Ferry's more standard tracks to life, infusing them with immediacy and thrills, definitely proving that at this point at least, the band were still very much that, rather than just a backing group for Ferry's crooning.
When 'Country Life' was first released back in 1974, like several of the reviewers here, I was disappointed. In an incredibly fertile couple of years, the band had released three magnificent albums - their self-titled first, 'For Your Pleasure', and 'Stranded', emerging seemingly from nowhere to being one of Britain's most innovative, stylish and important bands, yet 'Country Life' just didn't make it for me. However, thirty-odd years later, 'Country Life' now sounds, to these ears, every bit as good as those first three albums. The opening track, 'The Thrill Of It All', is supremely atmospheric, and songs such as 'Out Of The Blue' are lyrically and musically out of the top Roxy drawer. The hit single, 'All I Want Is You', opens with massive, cathedral like Manzanera guitar chords, and the song lyric - almost an exercise in using pre-Beatles pop cliches - works brilliantly. It also contains weird Roxy anomalies like 'Trytych' - a song I bet that they never performed live - that's like an attempt to write a piece of 'early music' - it could've come from a Tudor costume drama - yet it works wonderfully. 'Bitter Sweet' always sounded like a bit of an inferior cousin of 'Stranded's' 'Song For Europe', but with it's German verse, now sounds to me like a fine song in its own right. Then there's things like the old-school neo-boogie(!) of 'If It Takes All Night' - one of the straightest of songs, musically speaking, that the early Roxy recorded, which swings mightily. Add in ' A Really Good Time', one of Ferry's most acid-tongued of lyrics ("you're well-educated, with no common sense"), and the rather sweet 'Three And Nine', and you have one of Roxy's most well-rounded, multi-faceted and absorbing albums. Plus, there's always THAT sleeve - it got banned in the USA at the time!
'Country Life' is where it all changed for Roxy Music; 'Stranded' had moved away and into the avant-garde with 'Mother of Pearl'. They could have gone the Can route or this way...The first three-albums are obviously five-star classics- everything about them is perfect and permanent examples of how 'out -there' pop music can be ('Ladytron', 'Dream Home', 'Song for Europe')...This is where Roxy became a bit more palatable- towards the international-lounge sound of 'Love is the Drug', 'Angel Eyes' & 'Same Old Scene' (all brilliant...). There is a bit of a confusing overlap with Ferry's solo albums- which got weirder as Roxy got straighter- see 'In Your Mind' or 'The Bride Stripped Bare'.
The album opens with 'The Thrill of It All', which comes on like a relative of 'Editions of You'; imagine if The Doors had dropped the rock'n'roll cliches. The keyboards and pounding drumbeat make this a logical follow-up to songs like 'Street Life' and 'Amazona'. There is a sense that Ferry is having less to say here- the lyrics capture the fleeting Proustian sensation- the forever moments- perhaps 'Mother of Pearl' wiped him out?...'Three & Nine' exhibits Dylanesque harmonica, before a sublime vocal comes in: "change is here to stay". It is one of the albums blander moments- towards the sound of 'Siren'...'All I Want is You' is a lovely glitter turns penthouse stomp- one of the finest Roxy singles with great guitar from Manzanera. And the bridge is rather special- if people want to know how to write pop-songs properly- come here rather than 'Pop Idols'...'Out of the Blue' is one of the greatest of Roxy Music songs- up-there with 'Sea Breezes', 'Dream Home', 'Mother/Pearl', 'Both Ends Burning'...It seems a lot more epic than it is- a work of great complexity that talks of Lou's "pale blue eyes". Ferry is reaching his luxury-misery, his life becoming a suave-tragic film: "I don't mind if it's only a passing craze/Throwaway lines often ring true". This is one of the strongest reasons why this album has to be owned...'If it Takes all Night' is rather mediocre- lazy in a wonderful manner...'Bitter Sweet' continues the world that 'Sunset' opened up- grandiose like solo Scott Walker. This is a torch song if ever I heard it...'Triptych' is a rather odd harpsichord featuring song- a bit Dead Can Dance ten years before; the lyrics are not unlike a Seamus Heaney poem...'Casanova' is another spine-tingling track- it's an oblique gaze at international emptiness- if Resnais shot 'Emanuelle'? Love the conclusion "Casanova- is that your name/Or do you live there?"- the guitars are in overload equal to Manzanera's Cale/Eno collaboration...'A Really Good Time' has a bit of a cheesey title, the chorus of "we'll have a really good, really good time" not worthy of the transcendental verses: "You're well educated with no common sense" or "You know I don't talk much/except to myself". Roxy were moving towards the middle-ground- though the strings (keyboards?) are rather divine...The album goes out as it came in, on a pulsing, effortlessly cool, rocker- 'Prairie Rose'. A fantastic song that feels like the end of something- and a definite influence on Johnny Marr's sound on 'Strangeways, Here We Come' and Talking Heads Eno-produced 'The Big Country'...
The follow-up 'Siren' was a lot blander- despite the brilliance of 'Love is the Drug' and 'Both Ends Burning'. Best stick with the Roxy compilations after this album- and maybe switch to Japan's 'Gentelemen Take Polaroids'? And I still have no problem with the cover- it's not that different to a Boss Hogg album cover when it comes down to it...
on 18 January 2001
For me,this album definitely hits Bryan Ferry's songwriting at a peak, with the musicianship of his cohorts bringing out the best in the material. The sheer breadth of the styles and moods is quite astonishing,from the surging drama of the opening track "The Thrill of it All"; to the wistful,understated "Three and Nine", complete with backing string section,the perfect counterpoint to Ferry's nostalgia-tinged lyric; through the outright pop hooks of the single "All I Want is You", the amount of ideas and textures on show here leaves you breathless by the end of the album. Even the oddball "Tryptich",with its solemn lyric and mock-choral chorus, is fully developed by the group and producer, and easily escapes the "filler" label. Standout tracks would be difficult to select, but "Out of the Blue",with its cascading,phased synthesizer washes,John Gustafson's outstanding bassline and Andy Mackay's subtle sax phrasing, would probably be my pick (but we are talking diamonds and pearls here!). Looking at the reviews of other Roxy albums here,every one of the first five albums seems to have its devotees for different reasons,but for consistently excellent songs, "Country Life" represents the cream of their output.