Disc MARCH 4, 1972 - by Caroline Boucher


Roxy Music must be the only group around who took the trouble of rehearsing for a whole year before doing a concert. And although for much of that time it left them pretty broke and in doubt of their sanity, their wisdom is now paying dividends, because people have started to rave.

John Peel has played them twice on Sound Of The Seventies in almost as many weeks, and recently EG Management (who have housed such groups as ELP, T.Rex, King Crimson) signed them on the strength of a tape which they said was the most exciting thing they'd heard in two years. The group are still pretty dazed by the whole thing, especially pianist and songwriter Bryan Ferry, who has been shouldering all the managerial problems for the group up until now.

Older than the average group starting in the music business, most of the six members of Roxy Music are graduates - saxophonist and oboist, Andy Mackay, was teaching music in a comprehensive school and playing with Roxy in the evenings up until a few weeks ago. This is the main reason that they decided to hide away and rehearse for a year, because they are sensitive to their age and particular about the calibre of their music. Line-up is: Bryan on piano; Andy, sax and oboe; Graham Simpson, bass; Eno, synthesiser; Paul Thompson, drums; Phil Manzanera, guitar.

"The trouble with the art of being a musician is that unlike being a painter, you have to be successful. You can't put out your experimental efforts," says Bryan.

Roxy Music is primarily very exciting, although they can sound like three different groups depending on what they're playing. They make a point of doing a good variety of things to keep an audience interested, ranging from slower numbers, utilising mournful oboe to tingling, harsh Tin Pan Alley. They use a lot of prerecorded tapes, and a synthesiser.

"It isn't a jamming band," says Bryan. "I usually have a fairly solid concept of what I want it to be like and then we work it out at rehearsal.

Eno copes with the synthesiser, prerecorded tapes and balances everything from the back of the hall where he also has a microphone and occasionally frightens the nearby audience by burst into song down it.

"The synthesiser is a perilous instrument to use," says Andy, "because it's very easy to forget the musical context. A musician tends to use it as a straight instrument and if you get a person who's into electronics they just make noises because they're more interested in sound. Eno is an artist and manages to come in between."

Roxy Music got a new guitarist last week - Phil Manzanera - otherwise their line-up is pretty unchanged since their formation in 1970. Ex-Nice guitarist Davey O'List used to be with them, but he left because he was more suited to a jamming band.

"The variety of things we do is so that we're not classified as a funky band or a classical band, and it enables us to get through to as many people as possible. Due to the background of all the people in the band we could have been a very dull, intellectual band. We could have been the type of band that did the Queen Elizabeth Hall but never made the Lyceum, and we didn't want that."