“It sounds like an adventure”-Bryan Ferry
Indeed. Nothing else sounded like Roxy Music’s debut in 1972. Sure, you could hear traces of the Velvet Underground, early Floyd, even Elvis, but these arty boys were defiantly taking rock down an experimentally new road.
Lead by a suave front man, Bryan Ferry, who possessed a vampire-like croon and favored American Soul and art pop along with a mad scientist on synth, Brian Eno, who leaned towards abstract sound manipulation and deconstruction of the traditional rock song format, Roxy Music, the album, was a clever mix of the weird and the wild. I mean, c’mon, they even had an oboe player!
Even the look of the band was wonderfully out of sync with the times, with their androgynous posing, makeup and feather boas.
While the look would eventually become dated, the sound would become timeless.
The debut, Roxy Music, opens with the sounds of a party already underway before giving way to a glam rocker whose chorus was the registration number of a car driven by a girl Ferry had once seen and fancied. It’s your first clue that this was a different kind of trip. What followed was a record that gave nods to early rock and honky tonk, mirrored some of the music of the day, prog and art rock (but don’t worry, no one was going to confuse these guys with Yes) and prefigured punk and new wave, still years down the road.
The boxset set features the original album, plus a cd of demos, revelatory in the sense that as unique as Roxy was, they still worked through songs like any other band. There’s also a live disc from sessions with John Peel and the BBC plus a DVD of TV appearances. Now depending on your level of fandom (and room on your credit card), the original album/live set offering might be the way to go.
While Roxy Music was a success in England, the album barely made a dent in the states. That said, it’s eventual influence cannot be denied. Even after being pushed out of the band following the second album, Brian Eno enthused about Roxy Music, “insanity… the element of clumsiness and grotesqueness”, the “terrific tension”, caused by the group “juxtaposing things that didn’t naturally sit together“.
40 years later, it’s still an amazing listen.