INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Mojo SEPTEMBER 1999 - by Mark Paytress
ROXY MUSIC: ROXY MUSIC / FOR YOUR PLEASURE / STRANDED / COUNTRY LIFE / SIREN
When Bryan sacked Brian that summer's day in 1973, he cut dead the most thrilling musical partnership of the decade. Roxy Music, until then a brilliant, baffling, art-rock ensemble of no fixed musical style, became instead Ferry's plaything, his ticket to the lifestyle of a mid-table British aristo. Wisely, Ferry and Eno refuse to reform the original line-up; instead, they insist we fork out periodically for newly enhanced editions of the Roxy catalogue. This latest batch, the first five of nineteen titles, has been tweaked by technical whizz Bob Ludwig, using the latest HDCD (High Definition Compatible Digital) technology, and now comes in attractive gatefold card sleeve replicas of the original artwork. They look good, they sound great - but unfortunately they can't change history.
The sonic overhaul is most impressive on Roxy Music (1972), which now sounds warmer and uncovers many hitherto missed touches. The clever juxtapositions - try If There Is Something (country rock/jazz crooning) or The Bob (Medley) (cabaret/doom-rock) - anticipated pop's mass pilfering of the past by a decade, yet still sound remarkably fresh and free of cynicism. Only Virginia Plain, a remarkably leaden performance in retrospect, disappoints. Roxy's uneasy, intra-song alliances didn't last long. For Your Pleasure (1973) compartmentalised material into short rock'n'rolling anthems (Do The Strand, Editions Of You), Ferry ballads (Strictly Confidential) and lengthy, trance-like workouts (The Bogus Man).
After Eno's departure, Stranded (1973), a patchy affair, introduced Eno's replacement, violinist Eddie Jobson. Roxy Music had become just another rock band, proficient, occasionally subversive but overburdened with a transparent and increasingly unctuous mystique. By Country Life (1974), Ferry's domination was complete; the only controversy the group could arouse was over the near-naked models on the cover. Don't write-off 1975's Siren, a slick but largely convincing set of performances that owed little to the original Roxy spirit but suited Ferry's lounge lizard persona to a tee.