Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Roxy Music Primer"
IF THERE IS SOMETHING
I was fingering the albums at Virgin Records in Notting Hill Gate long before everybody knew who Richard Branson was, a year and a half before "Tubular Bells," and I heard this over the in-store stereo and bought it.
Roxy Music was the band being hyped in the weekly music newspapers, which were a thrill to this American, as well as the Chelsea Drugstore, and in this summer of '72 it was all about Marc Bolan and David Bowie, who were still unknown in the U.S., and then at the end of August Roxy Music. The first two broke through in the States, Bowie bigger than Bolan, but one can argue that to this very day Roxy Music still has not made it in the U.S.
Hang in until 1:40, when the track changes, you'll be ENRAPTURED!
And speaking of being enraptured...
"I never thought I'd see you again
Where have you been until now"
From the advent, you're hooked, but wait until the screaming guitar beginning around :35... Your body will writhe, you'll just have to get closer to the sound.
And there's a lot of other extended stuff on this debut LP that will enrapture you more than the hit "Virginia Plain," if you like these two, go to "Sea Breeze" and "Ladytron" and...
IN EVERY DREAM HOME A HEARTACHE
The masterpiece on the second album, "For Your Pleasure," which was so meaningless in the U.S. that it might as well have not come out, but it was a monster in the U.K.
I can't even imagine a band today cutting something that sounds like this, never mind making an ode to a blowup doll.
Roxy Music cut more aggressive/upbeat stuff than the above three tracks, but none of it quite as good. I just don't want you to think that the band only featured moody music. Check out "Do The Strand," "For Your Pleasure"'s opening cut, for example.
"Stranded" is playable throughout, there's not a clunker on it, it's the album fans could play for friends and they'd... No, Roxy Music was not a band you could play for anybody but yourself, they were your own private pleasure.
I found this the most accessible cut on the album, but also check out "A Song For Europe" and "Mother Of Pearl."
A REALLY GOOD TIME
The album with the nude girls on the cover which were replaced with...ferns in the U.S.
Yes, we're Puritans.
To encounter the cover of "Country Life" pre-Internet, when nudity was rare, was to get a rise in the trousers of every male music fan.
Having said that, "A Really Good Time" is exceptional. It's a harbinger of what's to come, after the band reforms and makes it masterpiece, "Avalon."
Bryan Ferry is so passionate here, he sells it, this track wasn't a chart hit, but if you heard it it was a personal favorite, it spoke to you.
And it still does and will...
"You know I don't talk much
Except to myself
'Cause I've not much to say
And there's nobody else
Who's ready and willing
And able to know me, I guess"
Back when music spoke to the individual as opposed to everybody, when it soothed the wounds of loneliness and made you feel included... INCREDIBLE!
P.S. My favorite version of this song is actually the cover by Iva Davies on his album "The Berlin Tapes."
I actually prefer the solo version by Bryan Ferry on his album "Let's Stick Together," but this came first. I've included the solo take, check it out. There's less on it, it's less "experimental," but with the heavy bass, it penetrates.
LOVE IS THE DRUG
And here's where the band finally gets recognition in the United States.
"Love Is The Drug" is irresistible.
"Love is the drug and I need to score"
And for those playing the home game, and if we liked something, we always bought the album, the intro, with the person walking across the pavement, getting into the car and revving it up... Wow!
BOTH ENDS BURNING
Aggressive and in your face, this was a worthy follow-up to "Love Is The Drug," the band was finally in a commercial groove, and it promptly...broke up.
Solo records and collaborations. They walked away. Until...
"Manifesto," the reunion album, was a disappointment, but not this, which presaged the band's new sound.
This is pure magic.
You can also listen to "Trash" and "Angel Eyes," but you don't have to...
IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
"Flesh + Blood" was uneven, but was much more listenable than "Manifesto."
It opens with this cover, a feature of Bryan Ferry's solo career, taking famous songs and remaking them with arrangements that were similar, yet...different. It was his vocal. This is still fresh today.
And if you like this, check out "Eight Miles High" from side two, never mind Ferry's solo work, especially his debut, "These Foolish Things."
And this is one of the most incredible cuts ever, the kind you should strive to create if you're a musician.
Our favorites are always somewhat dark and personable, they speak to us.
I can write more, but I can't improve upon the exquisite experience of listening...please do so.
MORE THAN THIS
And now comes the masterpiece, whereupon Roxy Music shaves off all of its rough edges and puts out an album so subtle everybody misses it, but ultimately catches on months later, as both women and men, fans and newbies, embrace it.
"Avalon" seems to be forgotten, but I'll tell you I've had more sex to its grooves than any other LP. And unlike Grover Washington, Jr. and his "Winelight," "Avalon" was not lightweight, it was credible, worthy of attention, and more...
This is the opening cut. It immediately enthralls you.
Doesn't overwhelm you, just draws you in.
TO TURN YOU ON
This was the cut that got airplay, to the degree there was any.
This built upon "Dance Away" from "Manifesto" and "Oh Yeah" from "Flesh + Blood," but in its own way improved upon them, by being so slick and so perfect as to be impenetrable and all embracing at the same time. It was as if the band said here it is, the best we can do, TOP THIS!
"Is it raining in New York on Fifth Avenue
And off Broadway after dark, love the lights, don't you
I could walk you through the park
If you're feeling blue or whatever
Spring, summer, whenever, winter through fall
I'd do anything to turn you on
Anything to turn you on"
THE MAIN THING
There are no losers on "Avalon," if you're unfamiliar with Roxy Music, I'd tell you to start here.
And, as of now, this is my favorite cut. It's moody, it's electronic, and if you do a bit of searching you can uncover extended remixes, my favorite of which I'm going to include here.
You see a mood is set and you want it to be endless, Roxy Music presaged the dance floor craze, taking the electronic sounds Kraftwerk pioneered and adding a bit more lyricism, melody, and ending up with this...which would still hypnotize dance floors today.
I just can't get enough.