INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Melody Maker MARCH 17, 1973 - by Roy Hollingsworth
FOR YOUR PLEASURE
...is the title of Roxy Music's sensational second album.
"There's a new sensation. A fabulous creation. A danceable solution. To teenage revolution." Well, what is it?
"Tired of the tango? Fed up with fandango?" Most certainly, but have you got anything better Mr. Bryan Ferry?
What is this new sensation? "Do the Strand love. When you feel love. It's the new way. That's why we say: Do the Strand." The Strand? "The Sphinx and Mona Lisa. Lolita and Guernica. Did the Strand."
Well, in that case, so will I, and so will you - and before you know it, the whole country will be Stranding like buggery. It's new, its great, it's The Strand.
"I don't quite know what the Strand is," said Bryan Ferry smoking yet another of my Marlboro's (but, they're nice to share). "It's sort of..."
He shimmied a leg, rolled his eyes, and made a locomotion movement with one arm. "You can do anything you like to it really. We were going to get Lionel Blair to work out some dance routines for it... but The Strand is everything."
It is. And so is Roxy Music's new album, For Your Pleasure, which Bryan was turning up full volume. We'd met in the Markham Arms, King's Road. I was expecting to meet some very serious, over-bored, over-aware fellow, with a liking for arty things and nostalgia. Funny what the mind conjures up.
Instead, Ferry is loveable, nervous, witty in the nicest places and as open as a barn door. I found him extraordinary looking, even though he was dressed plainly in black and a bit of leather. He has a face and forehead that would do justice to a role in Star Trek. He looks to all intents and purposes like one of us Captain, but I beg to tell you that he has two hearts - and three brains," said Spock. That sort of thing, if you can see what I mean.
We shared a glass, raved over E.L.O.'s Roll Over Beethoven gushed out by the juke. "I love Jeff Lynne's singing but Roy Wood's better. When I was a dee-jay I had a habit of playing Fire Brigade every night."
Now there's a little insight into Ferry for you.
We crossed King's Road, flurry and fur and flash, and within minutes were settled into a cushy office, speakers pounding out rock n roll, and the lyrics urged one to do the Strand - opening track to this new album. And what a fabulous new Roxy this is! Ferry openly admits that it's way better than the first album.
"A year on the road has seen to that. We spent ages over the first album. Weeks and weeks and weeks, but got together in just over twelve days. Our playing is far superior, everything is far superior."
I asked Bryan to comment on the tracks individually, but once the tape had started, neither of us was particularly anxious to talk. Instead we just listened - Ferry gazing onto the King's Road, me gazing into the space between the two speakers.
Side One - Do The Strand: There is absolutely no doubt that when you hear this you'll put it right back on, again, and then again. It's so bloody attractive. Well plonked eights on the piano, coupled with snorty/wailing/screaming sax. Apart from the lyrics being a total gas - that's not the first thing that catches you. Instead, it's the urge to get up and dance. "Purely a dancer," said Bryan later, " I think it's nice to write a dancer don't you?"Side OneIt's a single, it's got to be a single, I told him. "But that would be cheating kids, putting a single out from an album. That's cheating," said Bryan. He's so nice. We played the track three times in all... it's that sort of thing. An honest rocker and pleasingly bizarre too.
Beauty Queen: As Bryan so aptly put it "This one has a distinct Northern working men's club feel to it." On this slow, droopy ballad, Ferry sounds like a mutated cross between Gene Pitney, and Engelbert Humperdinck (whoops). Some feverish, but soft guitar nurses the vocal line. "Ooo the way you look makes my starry eyes shiver." It creeps, and groans a little... groaning so much after a minute that you wanna laugh.
A smile crept across Ferry's face too, that was just before the curdling finished and the band stops for a split second, and reappears gashing, and fighting loud, and straight snappy rock. They certainly rock like nobody's business on this album. "Most things were done on the first take too. You might say we're together;" said Ferry. After the frantic jamming, the number returns to slink and slop.
Strictly Confidential: Hell, now I know what happened to Edmund Hockeridge - he lost six stone and joined Roxy. The opening to this most certainly has a Housewive's Choice ballad feel to it, plus the fact that Ferry's voice hits the soapy langour for which Edmund is so rightly famous.
A grower, it lulls one into listening to the lyrics, while the music rolls slowly, rising, and turning. It builds to a nightmarish, confused ending of nasty noise. It leaves one feeling quite emotionally wasted. Most enjoyable.
Editions Of You: "Ever noticed how much Roxy steal?" someone asked me. "Yes," I replied, "but they steal well."
Two lovely examples of masterful thieving occur on this delicious track. For a start the electric piano intro is straight from the opening chords of Brown Sugar. It don't sound the same - but it is. Then the actual meat of this rocker is guitar a la Fortune Teller. It's about time that guitar phrasing was used again anyhow, and used to beautiful effect too. Like Strand, this strikes you as an instant single, such is the force, appeal and clean precision.
"Play that one again," so we did. Oh what, a magnificent guitar break cuts it in half. Yes, a real guitar break that doesn't sound like any other guitar break you've ever heard. No mean achievement these days. This showcases the fabulous bass offerings of John Porter - consistent and tremendous throughout.
Ferry's lyrics are again remarkable: "Too much cheesecake too soon / Old money's better than new / No mention in the latest Tribune / And don't let this happen to you." No messing, no wastage - a beginning, a middle, quantity, quality and an ending.
In Every Dream Home A Heartache: Ferry's personal favourite. "It was twice as long when I first wrote it... but with it being a recitation rather than a song I had to cut it quite a bit." It is a recitation of an extremely terrifying poem. "Personal experiences Bryan?" "...Um, I'll wait a couple of weeks before I answer that."
Monotonous half-singing. "I bought you mail order / my plain wrapper baby / Your skin is like vinyl / The perfect companion... Inflatable doll / My role is to serve you / Disposable darling."
One of those questioning pieces that throws one into a state of doomed confusion. It works on the emotions like a Cohen drama. One's spine is removed - temporarily, to allow for total relaxation, allowing the mind to work freely with the lyrics. And then it explodes into a heavy dripping, electric ending. Most stunning, and most certainly the finest lyrics I've seen in a year or two. There's silence, and the track re-appears in a phased swishy form, courtesy of Eno. Rather like the little tit-bits that appeared on Family's first album Doll's House. Side one swishes and trips to an end. It's most relevant that we take a break here. The reason is quite simple. In plain words, Side One is instant, quick and immediately colourful. You could play every track - maybe with the exception of the last - before breakfast, and relish them.
Side two however offers the deeper side of Roxy. It sees them delving into a mass of technicalities / dream sequences / electrical tripping / psychedelia. Yes it's psychedelic. One shouldn't be afraid to use that word these days, especially as it really does fit the situation. You'll play Side One anytime but you'll only play Side Two in the company of oneself, or few close friends... And late at night... AND preferably, on cans.
It consists of three "lengths" rather than tracks - Bogus Man, Grey Lagoons and For Your Pleasure.
The most pleasing (again on an instant level) is Bogus Man.
This pumps and crumps in at a fierce, funking rate. Drums first and then guitar and naughty noises from Eno. Slightly reminiscent of Sat'd'y Barfly from Family. The reason I say that is because of the feeling one gets of late-night New York, taxi ridden, and heaving, hot with electricity. An uptown funk. Ferry's voice is actually so screamed and distorted that you'll think of Roger Chapman - it ain't too dissimilar at all. It also has a bizarre burlesque feel in places too.
"Funky chicken guitar is supplied by John Porter," said Bryan. Again, this man must be complimented for his technique and rocks-off feel. Metallic, quickly swept guitar throughout. There's so much going on, so much to listen to.
Despite its length, lyrical content is short - but aggressive as Hell. "The bogus man is at your heels / Now clutching at your coat / You must be quick now... HURRY up / He's SCRATCHING at your THROAT". Shiver.
Next, Grey Lagoons, with a dashing tempo, and Mellotron giving the impression of a stoned Welsh choir hovering throughout. The snazzy sax sound from Andy Mackay also adds a Jnr. Walker edge. Don't know whether to dance or deliver one's mind to this one.
Ferry adds an outrageous harmonica solo, before the track screws itself into your head in what might be called an 'alarming' fashion. "It's amazing what things we got into on the second side. It wasn't a case of showing WHAT we could do but showing HOW we could do it. And I'm extremely pleased with the WAY we did it;" said Bryan, filching yet another cigarette.
With the teasing and phasing and dreaming on Side Two, you'll be shown a whole new side of the head: There exists some incredible playing through Bogus Man, Grey Lagoons and the real canyons of your mind stuff - For Your Pleasure. But again, this is music for the mind.
When Side Two had driven itself to a crazed halt, I could do no more than ask, for Strand again. I love new crazes, and this one is especially loveable.
"Me?" said Bryan, "Well, I like 'em all. I feel we have more aggressive material to offer now. There's certainly aggression on this album."
And so much variety, too, Bryan. "Well, that's the spice of life, isn't it?" he said.