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Teenage rebels of the week!! Roxy Music back in 1971 were a very strange group - they had the triumvirate who saw them through all of their guises, Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, but they also sported the exceedingly odd Mr Brian Eno and produced a very individual noise. They had Graham Simpson on bass here and the reliable Paul Thompson at the skins. Track listing - Re-Make/Re-Model - Ladytron - If There Is Something - Virginia Plain - 2HB - The Bob (Medley) - Chance Meeting - Would You Believe? - Sea Breezes - Bitters End It was a glam rock dream of an album from a band that were undoubtedly different from the norm - harking back to the Forties with 2HB, the Humphrey Bogart tribute, yet being starkly and squarely of the future, viz the photos shown within the gatefold sleeve. ferry's fascination with models kicked off with the cover shot of a typical sex kitten, at the same time dominant yet vulnerable, just how old Bry liked them. Even then they were deliberately flying in the face of accepted style and they have always liked to blend the Forties style with the lurex glitter of the Seventies in acuriously apposite amalgam with the epitome of cool slithering around everywhere, a Geordie who dated Jerry Hall: "Way hey, Mam, she was a reet good lukkah..." They stormed into the forefront of popular music with appearances on the Old Grey Whistle Test (they must have dazzled old Bumbling Bob Harris) and this album quickly exploded into an awesome top 5 placing and it was SO merited. Roxy refined their style and developed their brilliant approach on their later albums, yet never quite captured the raw excitement of their debut with its stark images and hauntingly beautiful themes. That's always the way in my view, but few acts manage to produce so daunting a debut as Roxy did here. The single from the album (though it was re recorded) Virginia Plain was one of the hits of the year
and peaked at number 4 in July 72. Style personified, a wonderful band and a wonderful album. Eno's place in the band came under increasing pressure in the couple of years that followed and his constant vying with Ferry for the audience's affection led to his eviction to be replaced by violinist and keyboardist Eddie Jobson, but it was while Eno was still around that Roxy Music were at their most vital, surreal and wonderful. They became a much blander pop act following Eno's departure and then went super smooth, leather suited lounge lizards when they reformed in 1979. Forget their later incarnations - it was the original Roxy with Eno in tow who were the real McCoys (or Mackays) - check them out and prepare to be impressed by the thrill of it all. This album is a fascinating snapshot of a world beating band in the making, peopling their own very unique little planet and coming out with all sorts of squeals and squoinks here courtesy of Eno and MacKay beneath that lounge lizard, decadent vocal croon. I would venture say that never has the world seen anything like the glam rock parade that draped itself alluringly across our screens in that very odd year, 'all swishy in her satin and tat'. If Bowie was the king of glam then Bry was the high priest of decadent elegance, soon to be Mr Cocktail Jacket and fag stuck languidly between the second and third fingers of his hand (why did he do that exactly, if not for show?) I have to say that many of the later stuff like 'Love Is The Drug' and 'Street Life' and Bry's Dylan cover 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' I found sheer pleasure, and the most glorious stuff they did, but they'd settled into a groove by then. On this debut album they're still naive and innocent enough to startle...
When Roxy Music landed on Planet Earth in 1972, we hardly knew what to make of them. They were light years ahead of their time with those extraordinary costumes, the image, and that extraordinary fusion of musical styles. It was as if Bing Crosby and Frankie Avalon had teamed up, sacked their arrangers and called Stockhausen instead. That magnificent single 'Virginia Plain', with its teasing fade-in intro, managed to be amazingly catchy and pretentious (but in the best possible way) at once, and to this day no retro 70s compilation is complete without it. But as for this baffling debut album, it had most of us confused at first. However, that was probably the idea. Several of the tracks are quite long, cramming in plenty of ideas all at once with their rapid switches in mood and tempo. Conventional song structures went out of the window, in an attempt to assimilate as many influences as possible - a dose of doo-wop here, a snippet of sci-fi there (Brian Eno's synthesisers and tapes made reigning synth high priest Keith Emerson sound like the London Philharmonic), and a little ambient noodling when space allowed. The opener 'Remake/Remodel' borrows from 'Summertime Blues' and 'Day Tripper', as well as giving guitarist Phil Manzanera, sax-player Andy Mackay and drummer Paul Thompson a few seconds of soloing each; 'If There Is Something' and 'Ladytron' features head-on collisions between art school dabbling and Bryan Ferry's Sinatra aspirations; 'Chance Meeting' and 'Sea Breezes' are languid, with a touch of edginess steering them away from tedium. 'Would You Believe' opens tastefully and then takes a swift sideways turn into rock'n'roll when you least expect it. On balance, maybe this album is a little hard to take in all at once, and the inclusion of 'Virginia Plain' (which wasn't on the original album) at the end comes as we
lcome light relief. If you only know Roxy Music from the last two sets 'Flesh and Blood' and 'Avalon', this will be a revelation. For those of us who found those two too MOR and predictable, this is more like it.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Bitters End
3 Chance Meeting
4 If There Is Something
8 Would You Believe
9 Sea Breezes
10 Virginia Plain