on 27 April 2007
Roxy's self-titled first album, although containing some of their strongest songs, is too poorly produced in parts to be considered their classic. ''For Your Pleasure', the follow up, tends to claim this accolade but for me 'Stranded' is the epitome of Roxy Music.
Coming as it did, smack bang in the middle of their glorious early/mid period, it contains songs that could easily belong on any of those records. Included is all the wierdness, exotica, brooding beauty and surprise that you would associate with the band across those first five albums. That's not to say the album is at all diffuse, various would best describe it, with every song sounding very 'Roxy-like' without ever really sounding like the last.
If 'Stranded' is Roxy Music's finest album, then, in 'Mother-of Pearl', it contains their finest song. From it's strange and original uptempo opening to it's delightfully sad/joyous main section this song just screams Roxy Music and never more so than in it's flowing, opaque lyric. I've never heard anything quite like this and that is part of Roxy's brilliance and appeal: they are not really Rock N' Roll at all but at the same time they aren't anything else.
Roxy, for me at least, are one of those few bands you may be lucky enough to hear in your life, whose music, for a time, obssesses you. There's something you love and admire about some bands without quite putting your finger on what it is. You feel really thankful that this band existed and whether you were there or not (In Roxy's case I'm only 32 and first listened to them in my early twenties) you can still feel excited by the fact that they happened; that they did what they did.
A truly underrated band and one of Britain's best kept musical secrets (everyone's heard of Roxy Music but who still plays this stuff?). Start here!
on 2 November 2008
The third Roxy Music album and also a watershed. This album marks the beginning of the movement towards mainstream commercialism. That is not to say that this album is bad. Far from it. This album contains some of Ferry's best songwriting and his voice is stronger too. The band sound more mature along with the production that compliments these great songs. 'Street life' still sounds like an out-take from the previous album, 'For your pleasure', with its distorted intro and Manzenara's blistering guitar. For me though , 'mother of Pearl' is the highlight of the album and marks Ferry's maturity as a songwriter. Another little gem on this album is 'Sunset' - Ferry's slow homage to the sun - wonderfully sad and thought provoking.
With Eno gone and Eddie Jobson taking his place (and adding his violin) the band moved on with this album. Although the previous two albums are my favourite, this comes third on my list! Great stuff!
on 14 June 2000
If you thought that Roxy Music were all washed up when Eno swirled his cape and flounced out on the best 70s rock band, then feast your shell-like on this. Eddie Jobson came straight into the recording studio to join Ferry, Mackay, Manzenara and Thompson on this third and definitely the best Roxy outing, and you would be forgiven for thinking that Eno has come back with his tail between his legs after admitting 'Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy' probably wasn't, in all honesty, a very good idea and got stuck in to his tape loops and moogs again.
Everyone knows about 'Street Life', a classic belter of an opener, following hot on the heels of For Your Pleasure's 'Do The Strand'. But its 'Casanova', with its cheeky little riff which served Ice-T well 20 years later, and 'Song For Europe', during which Ferry actually sings in Latin agaist a backdrop of swirling piano and a crashing saxaphone solo, which really make the hairs on the back of your neck prick up.
But the best is yet to come. 'Mother of Pearl' is the best Roxy song ever, and I should know as I have all 10 of their albums (and 8 Ferry solo efforts of ever decreasing virtue). The song kicks off like a wild party with a chugging riff of which Led Zep would indeed be proud. And then it breaks off sublimely after 80 seconds to a soft tinkling of ivory and 6 further minutes of pure Ferry magic. Lyrics and voice to kill for. A first class album and a must buy for all fans of popular music.
on 3 November 2015
The 3rd Roxy album, released in 1973, sees a change in line-up with Eddie Jobson (keyboards, violin) joining the fray in place of the wonderfully enigmatic Brian Eno, but, in every other respect, this is a superbly crafted project with short, punchy material such as 'Street Life', 'Amazona' and 'Just Like You' juxtaposed alongside classic longer tracks such as 'Mother Of Pearl', which fizzes along with bundles of energy before suddenly settling into a gorgeous, romantic section, and the lovely 'A Song For Europe'. This is an album which should delight fans of Art Rock; it is, quite simply, a must have in any 1970s music collection.
on 9 May 2015
When I first heard the single 'Street Life' at the age of eight, I found it so scary that I used to sleep at the edge of my bed in case I couldn't escape if it came to get me! (I also felt like this about The Who's '5:15' and Sparks's 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us' - sensitive child that I was. . .) But part of me was also intrigued, in these formative years of my abiding love of music, by the strange individuals who imagined such dark and mysterious soundscapes. On discovering that the band's synthesiser maestro was called Eno, I promptly put the blame for my thrilling nightmares on him; so it was a big surprise to discover as an adult that he left the group before most of this album had been recorded, and that his replacement, Eddie Jobson, was actually responsible for the banshee wails that terrified me so much back then. All of which preamble leads to my main point, which is that not only did Eno rate this as Roxy Music's finest album, but that it has his fingerprints all over it, notwithstanding his departure before its release. This and their eponymous first album are my joint favourites, with For Your Pleasure a close runner-up. The strength of this album is its variety of tone: the heavenly 'Sunset' and 'Psalm' must have made grand endings to the vinyl edition after the fireworks of 'Street Life' and 'Mother Of Pearl' and the grande ennui of 'A Song For Europe'. Bryan Ferry may not be the most virtuosic of pianists, but his angular style perfectly suits this material, with its blend of romance and cynicism; as for Jobson, Mackay and Manzanera, they both sparkle individually and blend beautifully as the occasion warrants. But, for me, the spirit of Eno haunts this album, guiding his former bandmates to produce a richly textured sound world that, despite later deserved successes, they never managed to equal.
Well, Brian Eno left & recorded the wonderful Here Come the Jets (with various Roxy members), prior to going onto that wild career that has crossed paths with Bono,Bowie, Byrne, Cale, DeLillo et al. He's not missed on Stranded, which advances on the equally brilliant For Your Pleasure (also 1973). Melodies are becoming more apparent- from classic single Street Life (ripped off for REM's CrushwithEyeliner)to the sublime pop of Just Like You (very much the direction for the wonderful Country Life follow-up)to the brief joy of Serenade (up there with Grey Lagoons & Would You Believe?).
Amazona is one of the key songs written by Ferry with Manzanera- an amazing riff whose influence can be detected in Radiohead to this day. Psalm is the centrepiece of the album, the ultimate epic Roxy song. A Song for Europe offers a direction that Scott Walker should have gone in, if he hadn't got lost for pretty much the whole of the 70s (excepting his contributions to Nite Flights). The album goes out on a higher point- from the Weillmisery of Europe to Ferry's greatest studio moment Mother of Pearl- where we're hurled straight into a pulsing riff as multi-voices collide with each other. What would (should?) be a conclusion is merely the opening- Manzanera takes this intro into the latter half of the song. Here Ferry circles his own poetry- "with every godess a let down/every idol a bring down/it gets you down...you're highbrow, holy/with lots of soul/melancholy shimmering/sepentine sleekness/was always my weakness..."- you get the idea. The repeated line "Oh mother of pearl" becomes a mantra, as the instruments vanish & Ferry recites the line over and over (but NEVER long enough!). The album ends after the climaxes of Mother of Pearl with the end of credits that is Sunset- the band are pretty much absent, piano&voice with hint of strings. Beyond gorgeous, words cannot express..."sunburst fingers you raise..."- few songs have come to such a sublime peak (those that are close include NocturneVII, Power Fantastic, Sail to the Moon, The Bridge, Breakfast etc). Stranded is rumoured to be Eno's favourite Roxy album, ironically; it possibly is- though I'd equal as passionately for For Your Pleasure! Regardless, a key Roxy album, a key release of the 70s and one of the key albums of all time (can you see the unsubtle use of the word 'key'?). Enjoy!
on 17 April 2013
Stranded is a very warped affair. Given that it was released the same year as 'For Your Pleasure' it is perhaps not surprising that this otherwise classic Roxy album is marred by an inconsistency similar to that of the debut album. The lack of flow to this album unfortunately brings down some of the weaker tracks, 'Just Like You' & 'Serenade.' Neither are bad, yet their placing on the album isn't particularly well thought out though they do work when taken away from the album as a whole. Sadly though, because so many tracks on this album outshine them, it would be hard to even remember they existed to come back to them.
Yes it is this album that has Roxy's best songs. 'Mother of Pearl' is considered by many to be the ultimate Roxy track and it is hard to disagree, though I would give that plaque to 'Song For Europe' the most dazzling piece of music ever created and certainly rivaled only by Bowie's best and a few others from Roxy, (Mother of Pearl included). We also have the bombastic opener, Street Life, another spectacular effort.
Unfortunately there is one track that divides much opinion. Psalm is an overlong dirge that doesn't seem to go anywhere at all, which is sad because had it been shorter or had some kind of climax it might have been pulled off as another work in a similar vein to 'Europe' thus possibly allowing this album to have the five stars it might have had.
Unfortunately, it is Psalm along with a lack of cohesion which let's this Roxy album down. Fortunately, things wouldn't be the same for the following album and also, these problems don't obscure the fact that this is one of their best and certainly worth purchasing.
on 11 February 2013
An old favourite downloaded to test out my Kindle Fire HD.
The fact that I chose this album first, without having to think about it really, speaks volumes.
A total classic.
Brian Eno has said this is his favourite Roxy album. In some ways I prefer the two he is on.
But for sheer sumptuous musicality this was the choice.
Plus, it's got Mother Of Pearl.
PS: Having read some of the other reviews here, I would like to add that I love Psalm!
on 27 March 2007
This re-mastered CD is phenomenal and easily the best purchase I have ever made (I jest yeah not) and I am in possession of hundreds of CDs, across a broad spectrum of music. The copy I now possess is the 5th copy having worn out 3 LPs (remember those quaint 12" entities) and 2 CDs. Not mentioned in the other reviews of this CD (I apologise if I missed them) are the rhythm section - Johnny Gustafson on bass and the Great Paul Thompson on drums what a combination they are awesome throughout (even better live - those were the days). Eddie Jobson is also amazing and even though I love FYP, for me you can keep Eno and give me Eddie's incredible virtuoso performances any day. Great songs, song writing skills and lyrics and a powerhouse display by all musicians involved and the ending Sunset - is a joy to the ear. I cannot recommend this CD enough, a truly inspirational and extraordinary CD.
Pretty much the perfect Roxy album, mixing the self-conscious art school rock side with a more driving guitar sound.
'Street Life' is probably my favourite Roxy track, with Brian Ferry's sneering spitting vocals never more energetic, and forty years on is still the thoughtful anthem for that odd mid-1970s uncertain period between the end of glam rock and the beginning of New York punk. 'Amazona' is a great piece of riff-driven psychedelia and a forerunner of Roxy's more mainstream rocking style at the peak of their success later in the decade. Psalm, ...errr... goes on a bit, before Serenade brings the uptempo mood back with a vengeance, again with Ferry's idiosyncratic phrasing rocking against an almost Spector-like wall-of-sound backing. 'A Song For Europe' is a hoot from start to finish, Ferry sending himself up with a sometimes wobbly but always magisterial Jacques Brel style intensity - I don't know what he and Andy MacKay were on in the kitchen sink and all climax, but c'est vraiment magnifique! 'Mother Of Pearl' still has me scratching my head as the regulation rocker fades out after a minute to transform into one of Ferry's least cynical love songs. Redolent of its era and an all-time classic.