INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Sounds APRIL 28, 1973 - by Barry Dillon
ROXY: ENJOY THE LUXURY
Elegant ladies in evening dresses accompanied by their male escorts in penguin suits were upstaged and they knew it. Tut, tut, and by a British rock group of all things. Roxy Music were relaxing in the lounge of the swish South Coast Hotel after a gig, There they sat sipping shorts, and tucking into sandwiches off silver platters, right next to the grand piano. The sophisticated dinner set had drifted in to see the new dahlings of the rock scene. They clustered around the musicians (not too close), staring in disbelief at this new 1973 brand of elegance, straining to hear what was being said.
Eno (synthesizer and tapes), still wearing his heavy stage eye-shadow, was talking about Roxy's music. "I suppose you could describe it as luxurious decadence. It upsets some people... they expect you to be pigeonholed, fully committed to one type of music like rock and roll. Well we certainly don't expect to spend the remainder of our musical days driving up and down the M1 in a van, living in rat holes. We plan to do it in style."
Eno, Phil Manzanera (guitar), and Paul Thompson (drums) all said it pleased them when people noticed the '30s-style music influences in their work. Add to this measures of '50s-style rock and roll, space age electronics, and you have a pretty powerful brew. How did the remarkable style evolve?
"It wasn't deliberate, but it was really inevitable considering all our different musical backgrounds," said Eno, adopting the role as spokesman for the group. Throughout the talk Bryan Ferry (vocals and keyboard) and Andrew Mackay (oboe and sax) sat quietly, apparently absorbed in listening. Eno continues: "Musically we are a mixed up bunch. I am interested in '50s rock and roll, early '60s pop, and electronics. Paul is interested in the '30s style of music and so on. With all that experimentation going on at the same time something was bound to happen."
Phil: "There is one particular track on the new album (For Your Pleasure) which is incredible. It is called The Bogus Man and I never dreamed it would turn out the way it did when we started doing it in the studio." About their music Roxy are frank... if it's good they say so without ego-tripping, and if it's bad they put it down. Eno, for example, thinks Virginia Plain is a classic single, but with the others he dislikes Pyjamarama, despite its commercial success.
Eno: "We should never have put it out as a single. We did it in a rush after our American tour. We were still musically disorientated at that time. Do The Strand would have been far better, but we hadn't recorded it at that time. We will never rush a single like that again." Roxy now appear to have heaved themselves up from a quagmire cloud of glitter which resulted in numerous brickbats in the early days. In its place they offer music with a solid gold quality.
Phil: "When we started Sha Na Na were touring over here, and comparisons were inevitable. People over here now realise what we are about, although I believe some Americans still tend to regard us as pale Bowie understudies."
Eno: "We were even accused of cashing in on Gary Glitter and that syndrome, but really it was he who cashed in on us. We were around before him." When you ask Roxy if lyrically they have a message they seem vaguely amused, but they admit that In Every Dream Home A Heartache and Editions Of You do contain more lyrically than might meet the eye. Though again Eno comes in with the almost sinister pay off: "We wrote a song called Bitters End which is just about a cocktail... that's all. All we are saying is at least enjoy the luxury before it's too late. Well, if the apocalypse does approach, at least rock music can now greet it in true decadent style...