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Roxy Music

More Than Just Creepy Album Cover Models, I Swear

Roxy Music
For Your Pleasure
Country Life
Flesh + Blood
Heart Still Beating

Roxy Music are one of my most favorite bands of all time and one of the most difficult to pin down. What the hell were these guys, exactly, anyway? They started up in 1972 looking all glam, wearing poofy outfits and plenty of lipstick and all those other trappings of early-Seventies British pop fad-ism. But what's with that music they're playing? It sure the hell isn't simplistic stomping glam-rock, it's weird! And genuinely never played that way before by modern man. At least, no one mixed up elements others left lying around in quite that way. But it's not at all simply odd pop music like 10CC, because these guys were out to rock most of the time (at least in the pre-hiatus early 1970's), or, at the very least, maintain a certain instrumental power throughout their work. But whatever you do, doncha be looking for much blues/metal/roots rock here. Sometimes they may throw in some country or rootsy bits for spice, but these guys are as European as a Concorde jet.  Is it prog? Well that could almost be the case, it being true that both keyboardist/synth gremlin Brian Eno and guitarist Phil Manzanera were big pals with prog titans like Robert Fripp, and the musical complexity could at times be confused with some of the harder prog bands, but really these guys were in it for noise and invention, not for wanking and virtuosity. And that rhythm never changes from good ol' 4/4, at least as far as I remember (though didn't Bill Bruford tour with them once or twice? eh...I must be getting daffy. Anyway...there isn't any of that stupid jerky time-signature changing you and I attribute to prog-rock) Punk bands often point to Roxy as an early influence, and some of the more rocking pieces can betray a certain proto-punk aura, I'll admit. But the punk influence is not seen so much musically as lyrically, with detachment, irony, and a 'brave new world' cynicism being the sujects of the day.

God, then the band lost crazy wizard Brian Eno to a solo career and became more 'normal' but no worse. The days of prog were gone, the days of punk were gone. They were now squarely entrenched in some sort of lush, romantic, mid-70's European power pop, and the leadership of the band was placed on singer (or 'crooner') Bryan Ferry's shoulders alone. His amazing voice (strange at first listen because of the mocking warble and Julio Iglesias demeanor, but soon he'll be breaking your heart and mine...the guy can DO heartbroken) carries almost all of the band's post-Eno albums singlehandedly, for without Ferry, this stuff would be just some other moderately catchy mid 70's rock (with later disco trappings). But you know what? It can still rock, and its hookier than a fisherman's wharf and slicker than a New Jersey Italian. The 'mid period' pre-break record trio are some of the best 'love'-themed music I've ever heard, miles more emotionally genuine than 10 boxes of R&B music.

Then the band took a break from '75-'79 and came back as a soothing synth-dominated New Romantic pop band of the first stripe. Far from influencing nobody at this point, where do you think most adult contemporary of the mid to late 80's came from, anyway? But though this is by far the least interesting era for the band, it's still not at all bad if your tolerances are high. And Ferry is still fantastic.

So what can you say about a band that pioneered not one but several later forms of rock music, yet can't be categorized as ever belonging to a single one of them? Quite a feat.

Roxy Music - Reprise 1972

Oh God this is one hell of an interesting first side. 'Re-Make Re-Model' starts out like its going to be some Slade-ian idiot stomp rok with some slightly off-kilter honking saxes and synth burps, but Oh My God? Is this a love song to a robot? Is that guy going to solo all god-awful feedbacky like that the whole time? Are those cool synth noises going to keep changing every 3 milliseconds? I hope so. Pinned in my chair. I'm pinned in my damn chair by this bastard of a goddamn, and I certainly believe it when Bryan tells me he can 'Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk' himself to death. Freak. This is one band I don't really feel like hanging out with after the show is over. Who knows what kind of decadence they shoot into their eyelids?

And what's with the icy Kraut country atmosphere that is 'Ladytron'? And then it changes to icy Kraut metal prog guitar soloing after a short oboe interlude. Can someone please explain this to me? Oh whatever it is, it's filled with hooks like 'I use you, I confuse you, and then I lose you, and still you won't expect me' and rocking bits that make my inner Gene Simmons lick.

But that's me? nothin' compared to 'If There Is Something', which starts out all jouncy happy C&W (also proves Eno can actually play normal-style piano okay too) over this slightly heavy Bonham beat by drummer Paul Thompson, then the piano dies and the guitar and synths pull down into this dire dark minor key and our sunlight and domestic bliss peel away to reveal 'I would put roses round our door, sit in the garden, growing potatoes by the scooooooore!' like he's got the razor blade to his neck already. The sax pulls in and flutters away a very spectacular long solo and you know what? The drummer never stops playing that pounding pattern the entire time! That's so cold. Chilling. What's that mood when Bryan and the background singers come back? Nostalgia? Triumphant? Oh God its just fantastic.

After all that schizo we might be in the mood for something a bit more straightforward, and that is what is delivered to us on the straight-ahead punk pounder 'Virginia Plain' that gets my inner cretin hopping. Dig those synth textures. And no major stylistic shifts in the entire song! Imagine that! '2 H.B.' is mighty interesting and continues the Roxy tradition of keeping strong drumming on even the most fey of New Wave-y tracks. But there was no fey New Wave in 1972. There hardly was even an old wave in 1972. But then that means they pulled this atmospheric 'sincere' melancholy stuff straight from their ass? Assuredly so. What a band.

So why, then is the rest of the album such an outrageous bummer? All they had to do was keep in the same vein and they'd have grabbed themselves an A+ without breaking a sweat. As it is, the colors all fade to shades of grey and we're left with a dire road to travel. But if '2 H.B.' was merely melancholy, this stuff is like being ill in bed. No energy, a mild feeling of anaethesia over the topicals of the body, stuffiness in the head and nose, difficulty in attention span and cognitive abilities. 'The Bob (medley)' goes from an electronic space rock intro to Black Sabbathy metal (really) to a bunch of combat sound effects to an off-putting sock-hop then reprises a bunch of the parts together. Confusing? No doubt so. None of the parts besides the beginning are so fantastically done and the schizoid structure stuff is wearing a bit thin now. At least they warned us by telling us it was a Medley.

And 'Would You Believe' is sort of a bright spot, having 'reflection' rather than 'suicide' as its mood, and it does attempt to take it uptempo and 50's rock for the glam kids in too much eyeliner to ironically dance to in the audience. But it isn't developed very far and leaves me wishing for a few more ideas.

As for ''Chance Meeting' and 'Seabreezes', there's only so much dark pleading I can take from Bryan when the music is just despairingly un-melodic and dark. Oh, there's dance-y bits and interesting noises, sure but melodies and tunes? Nah. And it doesn't have that 'Hey man, listen to me! I'm weird but I ROCK!' message of the first side. No rockin' here on side 2.

Capn's Final Word: That first side jacks me up higher than the sky, then the second drops me into a bottomless pit. Just listen to the first side and consider it the Roxy Music EP.

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BP     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Re: the review - that's Ferry on piano, not Eno :)

(Capn's Response: Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants...who plays all the screechy dying squirrel noises during 'Remake/Remodel', then?)

GJ     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: The dying squirrel noises on R/R are made by Eno, the piano thumps on the same number are from Ferry.

(Capn's Response: Smart ass.)

For Your Pleasure - Reprise 1973

The second album in the Eno duo is much less weird than Roxy Transit Authority, being full of songs that do not change musical style very much in the middle. And only 8 of them! Oh, say 'Beauty Queen' goes from being a mid-tempo synth pop song to a southern rock tune in the space of about 2 seconds, but then it changes right back again! It was just for the solo, see, its the new User Friendly Roxy Music. Enjoy the lack of jarring changes, almost everybody except for me does. 'Do The Strand' which is probably Roxy's best-known song outside of the Avalon album, is a neat and clean 'Virginia Plain'-ish full ahead 4/4 rocker about a new dance that will kill your mother if you don't try it. Silly lyrics (parodic? probably, but isn't all Roxy just a little parodic of something?) I also love 'Editions Of You', which predates the Stranded sound, fast heaving rock based on a band unison descending chord riff. Rocks like tvorog.

Oh hey, where the hell's Eno on this record? On the first one, his 'treatments' flew around all over the place, like a deep dish pizza fed into an industrial ventilator. On Pleasure, he's content to put some sound effects on the odd Manzanera solo. Oh he does provide the spooky background to 'In Every Dream Home a Heartbreak' which is quite the track...about a household appliance lover? Bryan sounds so mournful. Explode! This band can rock at the drop of a hat, I'll give you that. Much better than 90% of those late 70's urine drinking Roxy copies. Why? Because for all his arena-rocking posing, Phil Manzanera is in fact a pretty evocative guitar soloist for a guy who doesn't play blues.

I guess I should address the other changes in Roxy's sound on this album. For one thing, From Roxy to Revelation was sugar coated with all these 50's rock rips, no doubt to help those young glam kids dig the music better. Glam rock has more than a little debt to basic 50's rock 'n' roll, y'see. But those trappings, in fact all discernable glam trappings, are left far behind here (except for one time on 'Grey Lagoons', but only one). The sound is futuristic, cold, and anything but danceable, at least in a 1972 sort of way. Maybe Eno's influence here was that he was already putting bits an pieces of his discreet music into the Roxy sound. Ehh, maybe not, but 'The Bogus Man' sure is minimalistic boogie. I guess the grey haired folks might call it a 'musical mantra'. Not too many ideas for 7 minutes of music (It's far from being Can), I say, and it gets mightily boring, but there is something of the E-man's late 70's multi-ethnic feel in there.

And 'Grey Lagoons' sounds a fuckload like too-fast disco to me. Except for the fantastic distorted harmonica part and the rockin' guitar solo part. Oooeee! But those parts sure sound kinda dumb. What sort of cheese were these guys trying to pass off on us? With a gun to my head I'll say that 'For Your Pleasure' sounds like something the current Radiohead might release. Better, though, because current Radiohead does nothing but snatch bits and pieces from their influences (Eno!!!!) and pass them off as world-shatteringly new and original and important ideas. And Roxy music did them in the days when synths had miles of fucking spaghetti wire coming out of them.

These guys are a lot less fun now. I can just see that big suave fuck Ferry telling prissy little Eno to fuck off out of the band. The band would regain a bit of fun after this unpleasant Eno business was all over, but they'd never have these sort of musical huevos again.

Capn's Final Word: Already changing to normalcy. And seriousness. Let goofiness live!

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Stranded - Capitol 1973.

Stranded is all Ferry. Without Brian Eno getting all tangled up in his feet, he's able to mix his voice as high as he wants and get away with doing things a bit more normally than even For Your Pleasure did (which was pretty normal). He raps like a maniac on 'Street Life', imitates a Latin dance sister on 'Amazona', pleads for his life in French on 'A Song For Europe', and hoots threateningly on 'Mother Of Pearl'...and writes a full album of decent songs that do very few weird things. There's nothing on here that would scare away your average Wings listener, no way. 'Just Like You', for instance, is so damned normal in its happy melodicism and snappy instrumental commentary that it would probably bore the snot outta me if Bryan weren't singing. And he sings about decadence, about sitting in cafes all alone, about how broken his heart really is, you know...the usual Bryan Ferry subjects from here on out. Yeah yeah, blah blah, woof woof. Give me some vegetables and shut up.

Just kidding. The words are really well written and even more imaginitively performed. That was the point of paragraph 1 in case you're a helmet-kid. 'Psalm' is even an honest-to-goodness GodChannel approved Jesus song. Really! No irony at all!

Not to say these songs don't do interesting things musically, but its just that now those things make a lot more sense than before. Like 'Amazona', which starts out all boingy latin-funky, takes a sensitive 'care' break for a bridge, but then instead of going back into the dancy part it gives us a processed all to phlegm guitar break (who did that noise? did Phil learn how to do it all on his own after watching Eno for a couple of years? he does a good job making it sound like an insect straining at the toilet, anyway) then goes into a full-bore fast part before finally popping back into the opening groove, except for now the sound is all frigged up. Hmm...but all these changes somehow make sense as the song goes on. Just trust me.

No, most of the tracks don't even play those kinds of games, but they're just great European pop-rock of the first rate. Each and every song is melodic and memorable. But you know, still no one was doing music like this in the early 70's, this sort of highly polished, gleamingly bright Bryl Cream sort of music. The Cars tried it in the late 70's without the great singing but got it wrong, ending up with their own derivative but hooky sound. Duran Duran tried it with all of the romanticism but never had the songwriting or performing prowess to back it up. I guess that by now it's been completely assimilated by rock at last, but is so diffuse as to have lost its lineation to Roxy. Okay then, no one does this now-totally-normal slick rock thing as good as Roxy did back 30 years ago.

Capn's Final Word: It'll blow your mind how good these guys do this kind of music, until you realise they also invented this kind of music.

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Country Life - Reprise 1974.

Besides that disturbingly intriguing cover (lose yourself in that foliage!) you're not going to find much boundary pushing going on here. Oh sure, the opening 'Thrill Of It All' is probably the best Roxy track of all time, bar none...nothing embodies their explosive jet-powered continental romanticism like this one does. Those 'ohhhhhh's get it for me all by their lonesomes. And talking of lonesome...does Ferry ever do a better vocal job than on the 6 minutes opening this album? I doubt it. Did Jerry Hall already leave him for Mick Jagger? Nah...I think that's still in the future. The guy is obviously hurting and feeling all nutsy because of it, but for real.  He's gotta be or else he deserves an Oscar as well as a Ryan Atkinson Patented Popularly Incorrect Grammy Award. But, for the most part, this record stomps around the same territory mapped out on For Your Pleasure and clearly defined on Stranded. Of course, that's a mighty fine piece of real estate to knock around in, wouldn't you say?

The sound, like the cover, is more stripped down than Stranded, and loses a lot of its charm without that lush, luxurious atmosphere all those overdubs and synths used to provide us. Could the possible reason for this retreat into guitar/bass/drums be that they were trying to recpature some of the glam market from poseurs like Sweet? Maybe so...but for those of us who like things to rock a little more obviously, this is a better Roxy album to start with.

Not to say everything is Let It Be-like minimalism. In addition to 'Thrill', take 'Out of the Blue', which serves as the basis for Duran Duran's entire career with that busy popping bass all the time...and that violin solo is fantastically weird. And alone in its weirdness on this record, I'm afraid. Unless you count Ferry lockstepping around in German on the march section of 'Bitter Sweet' or sounding just like Bob Dylan's sloppier musical moments on 'If It Takes All Night'.

Capn's Final Word: The overall effect is one of Another Roxy Music Album, with all the good chocolate icing that promises and everything. Not the most groundbreaking, not the hookiest, not the most emotional, but still Prime Grade A.

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Siren - Reprise 1975

Awarded an A due to the fact that, for the first time for Roxy Music, there are NO tracks on this album that, I don't find amazingly good, memorable, melodic, and hooky. There are songs on Stranded I tend to forget about, but this one? Each one's a gem.

Fuck I hate that. I forgot this album has 'Could It Happen To Me' on it. I don't like that song nearly as much as the other ones on here (other than those 'ohhhhhs'). Okay then...

Awarded an A due to the fact that, as is usual for Roxy Music, almost all of these songs are amazingly good, memorable, melodic, and hooky. This is about equal to Stranded, in my book. Almost each song's a gem.

 I think the clarity of sound, writing, and purpose is the key here. See, the Roxy formula is only getting more and more accessible as time goes on, so if your enjoyment of Stranded was made possible by the dense arrangements, and Country Life was already skirting the edge of 'too thin sounding' for you, you'll probably hate Siren. Most of the heavy distorted guitars are gone, and once again the busy popping bass (like CL's 'Out Of the Blue', not ELO's 'Out of The Blue') is the musical focal point along with Bryan's voice, of course. And how about that voice of his? Intoning those sickly hicky soulful harmonies with himself on 'End Of The Line' (which is Roxy's first C&W sounding tune since Roxy Music.) or those 'ohhhhs' on 'Love is the Drug', he packs this thing with those bits of vocal candy that make an album like this such a joy to listen to.

I don't know if 'stylistic variety' was really the catchword when recording this monster, because, well all of the tracks sound like Clean Roxy Tracks as we know them. Oh sometimes they pull out the odd oppressive opener (the feedback sustain fest opening 'Sentimental Fool' before the song turns mighty happy all of a sudden like someone gave it a Twix bar then turns back heavy again like the Twix bar actually turned out to contain shards of glass.) and sometimes they play some self consciously goofy ELO sounding stuff (like 'She Sells', which still RULES)  'Whirlwind' and 'Both Ends Burning' rock fast like, you know, 'Editions of You' did and a bunch of other Roxy tracks have done so far, but somehow someway these push my 'rock' button even better. Maybe its the busy bass or the great hooks of 'Whiiiirrrrllllwind!' or 'Both Ends Burning! Buurrrning! Buuuuurrrrrnnn!!' that click it for me, or that Phil can actually play a solo that doesn't sound like he's trying to be all ironic through the whole thing.

FUCK! Wrong again. 'Both Ends Burning' sounds nothing like 'Editions of You' or the other fast Roxy rockers. Its different. Its all awash in these synth pads and fonky fonky electric piano. I don't think there's guitar on there at all. And it's not even particularly all that fast. But I still love the crap out of that song, the way it never lets up. AND those vocal hooks are just supercool.

Oh, and some of our more funk-challenged folks call this the Roxy 'disco' record, but I only hear disco on 'Love Is The Drug', the middle part of 'She Sells' and some of the bass popping on other songs. And since this was released in 1975, probably recorded in 1974, can't we accept that at this time disco was so underground as to be unknown to most folks (or at least folks who don't go out to clubs as much as Bryan Ferry), and, anyway, was unsullied by bad taste at this early date. Eh...if you don't want to think about it, just dig those bass lines. They're rubber, I tells ya.

Thematically, this is Bryan's Lost Weekend concept album, starting out with him jumping in his snazzy Jaguar to run off to the disco in search of some fresh pussy to clear his mind. The whole thing is like he's trying to get over the break up that we caught him immediately after on 'The Thrill of It All' and is unable to do so. He tries sex, dancing, and even contemplates suicide to help himself from his doomed funk. On the closing tune, he damns his cavalier treatment of love as 'Just Another High' and realises the only thing that will make him happy is Getting His Woman Back Again.

Capn's Final Word: The best that Roxy has to offer, at least in their 'normal' rocking style. Feel those hooks sink into your skin and watch as your entrails are stripped from your corpse! Yay!

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Viva! - Reprise 1976

Heh. That title means 'Live' in British.

Actually a mashed together live comp from three separate years of touring, Viva! more than rolls out enough rocking power to pull off these songs. Like there was too much question as to whether they could or not...these guys are half proggers, doncha know? Proggers pride themselves on being able to reproduce their studio stuff note-for-note on stage and that's just what Roxy is able to do here. The opening 'Out Of the Blue' even has the echoey violin solo done just like on CL, for instance. The Eno parts? Done admirably well by the replacement synth player Eddie Jobson. And since Roxy live like to play louder than fuck this album seems almost metal at times (owing not a little to Phil's super distorted guitar and drummer Paul Thompson's nice drum presence). And hey! This is the very last time you're going to hear Ferry warble quite like that or Phil solo quite like that or the rhythm section rock quite like that on a Roxy album...after this they took themselves a long break before coming back a completely different (and much worse) band than this gleaming metallic ICBM we hear before our very ears on Viva!

About the actual songs on here, you're going to be bored by the rare single 'Pyjamarama', which seems to have nothing going for it idear-wise, but 'Bogus Man' just kicks the shit out of the dull studio original (Eno treatments or no Eno treatments) by allowing that bass player (whoever it may have been...see, Roxy had a very volatile bassist chair, so it could be a choice of about 4 guys, including Mr. Red John Wetton himself) to just take that thing on his shoulders and crank it up. Still begins to bore me about 4 minutes through, but the original bored me after 2, so that's 100% improvement! 'Chance Meeting' is dull, but 'Both Ends Burning' still rocks mercilessly, if a little more sloppy than on Siren. (and that echoey intro from 'Chance' RULES!! but those backup wailers SUCK!!! FUCK ME!! THEY SUCK!!!) I wish Bryan had put more effort into his singing on 'If There Is Something', a song that lives and dies on that disgustingly depressing section in the middle about growing potatoes...and Bryan just half-asses it like the bitch he was turning into (but he makes up for it on the 'When you were young' section). Ech. I also miss the relentless pounding drum figure that runs through the studio original but comes and goes here. At least on the jam part Phil, Jobson, and saxist Andy Mackay do their parts better than a bathtubfull of baked beans and a blonde teen-dream pop singer hopeful stripped down to her lacy underthings.

Capn's Final Word: Like Pepsi in 1985, Still the real thing. Like Coke in 1979, you can put it up your nose and screw hot chicks in feathered hairstyles with it. Like Dr. Pepper in 1973 it likes to feel up pre-pubescent girls during scoliosis examinations. Like Mountain Dew in 1994 it makes you jumpy and not want to go to sleep. Like RC in 1999 it can be found cheap and totally kicks ass with some bourbon mixed in.  

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Manifesto - Reprise 1979

This is Roxy Music? Isn't this just a Bryan Ferry solo joint with Phil and Andy Mackay guesting on it? Ooo, it doesn't sound much like the Roxy Music I know and enjoy. Smells like some new wave disco ugliness courtesy of the World Famous Late 70's British Music Industry (if it isn't ploinky and stupid and oddly homosexual, We Won't Sell It!). In the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover, let's list our enemies, shall we?

Phil's guitar is all processed through a bunch of cheap effects. No good solos. Bryan's voice is flat and dead (I mean is that even him on 'Still Falls the Rain'? Bloody murder fuck!!!). Electronic drums. Mid-tempos. The sax is normal. Bad vocal harmonies. Harps. That bass won't stop fucking popping now. 1979 production. Awful lyrics.

I don't like this album so I feel like talking about something else. How about that K-Mart, anyway? Gone bankrupt, they have! I personally don't think they ever recovered from the famous quote from the 1988 film starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman 'Rain Man' where, after it is suggested by the creepy psychologist that older retard brother Raymond (Hoffman, who won some sort of professional renumeration for his role) can go to his favorite K Mart and buy some fresh men's briefs, the younger asshole brother (Cruise) turns to the retarded older brother (Hoffman) and says 'Tell 'em, Raymond' and the older tard brother says "K Mart will declare the largest corporate bankruptcy of all time at the beginning of 2002 following disappointing 2001 year-end holiday sales and a long period of decline in sales due to a poor brand reputation and heavy competition from #1 and #2 retailer giants Wal Mart and Target."

Check this out: Then in the same scene, Raymond (Hoffman) glances around the room, no doubt considering that Wheel Of Fortune will be shown in less than 14 minutes and he will definitely need to find a suitable television to watch it on, then adds this:

'Roxy Music's 1979 album Manifesto was a sa-sad degradation of the early Roxy sound...early Roxy sound into disco faddishness and definitely poor songwriting that was made worse by observable disinterest in the project by Ferry and Manzanera and the abandonment of Roxy trademarks such as strong drumming and Fernando Valenzuela. Definitely.'

Capn's Final Word: Who's On First?

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Flesh + Blood - Reprise 1980

More of the same as Manifesto, but somewhat less disco-ugly and more run-of-the-mill boring. That's my God-like pronunciation on the most ignorable of all Roxy Music albums, the totally faceless Flesh + Blood. Gosh, I hate reviewing albums that are as fucking boring and no account as this one. There's nothing to get mad about really, not like Masturbato (which made me want to fling it across the room in anti-Eurodance fury, smashing it against the wall and all over the naked back of the doped-out Tartarski teenage whore I keep in my bedroom nowadays) but this is a more insidious album of boring.

Fuck it. I'm getting mad. I'm blowing right the goddamn shithole bastard penis dysfunction UP. All of these songs sounds so vanilla alike I can't tell my ass from a hole in your face. And the sound? It's not even disco fucknut, it's generic early 80's plastic motherfrig cuntmuffin! So non-rocking and non-hooky as to impress a fan of the Manhattan Transfer, this is the kind of pleasant dreck that killed Joey Ramone deader than that mouse in the mousetrap across the room from the whore and the glue-addicted midget arm wrestling champion who is currently looking at me murderously. Where the goddamn hell is Phil anyway? Is it really him doing those totally NON arena posing windshield washer licks up on top of this bitch? Why the cum guzzling faggot bunghole do they cover 'In the Midnight Hour' AND 'Eight Miles High', both of which they reduce to Skim Milk on top of a big crumbly bowlfull of Shredded Wheat, No Salt Added, motherfucker!!

And where the PHIL DONOHUE are the hot cover models? At least Manifesto was sorta creepy with all those dismembered mannequins all over the joint. This one is just two German-looking javelin throwers. The frig is that they aren't in ANY state of undress, unless you count Greeky athletic smocks as undress. And they SURE as hell don't look creepy, or faintly like transvestites, or ANYTHING. They just sit there, all slick and 1980, healthy and sexless, and make me want to throw this white monolith of a piece of trash away. Bring me the OLD Roxy Music or else just eat my asshole.

The music on this album sounds exACTly like the cover looks. That's all you need to know, really.

Capn's Final Word: Titties! Bring me TITTIES on my Roxy Music!!! Pictoral, Musical and Figurative TITTIES!!!

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scott     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: I dunno man.  I like the album.  Very melodic, hypnotic and alot more polished that the earlier stuff, which sometimes sounds like they are making it up on the fly.  The girls?  Way better than the creep shows on earlier covers.   I've attended 2 Roxy music concerts lately and the flesh and blood songs are really well done in concert.  Take another listen.  


Avalon  - Reprise 1982.

If you're going to resign yourself to making Adult Contemporary 30-something former Bread fan makeout crap, you may as well make it as well polished as this album. See, in the two years since Fuck You Bitch, Ferry was finally able to stage a return to the lush production sound of old, but without returning to that evil Rock Music nonsense he was playing back 10 years before. No No NO! O dear readers of the Record Review Banana! This is quite far from Rock Music as defined by Chuck Berry and the Fugs.

'Imagine there is no gui-tar....[after F+B] it isn't hard to do-o

No need for solos or distortion,

And no amplification too-o

Imagine all three Roxies,

Playing Pol-y-moog (oo--ooh, ohhh)'

This is music based on the synthesizer, with dance rhythms based on disco rhythms made on a synthesizer, with feelings based on synthesized actual human feelings (no, not really...but it's hard to stop once you get going). Just like saccharine is a substitute for sugar, this album is a substitute for real music made by humans. (Dammit, not really, I just did it again).

Okay. shit, I'm being really hard on this album for no real reason. The only captial crime committed here is sounding completely ordinary and accessible. Unlike F+B and Manifesto, very little of this record stinks, and what does stink is so lushly produced and well-performed that I don't hold any bad feelings even towards it. The melodies are sweet, (yes indeed, often Moody Blue-ish), but more often than not the tunes do make their presence known over the course of a song. The singing is very normal now, but good and well fitting (I mean, if he were to let loose with a For Your Pleasure-esque wide vibratoed hoot on here, I'd probably jump out of my skin with raw, insectoid fear) the nice music. Manzanera is tasteful now (I liked him better when he was ironically distateful), always tasteful like the elder statesman he is. And 'More Than This' is gorgeous, the instrumental tracks are interesting, and even the slightly-rocking (rilllly slight-ly) 'The Main Thing' has one of the more memorable hooks I can remember on here. For synth pop, this is probably the cream of the cheese, and an album you won't mind playing pretty often.

Capn's Final Word: Just don't assume old Roxy sounds one measly Caucasian fucknut like this record. This band is so far different than the 1974 Roxy I can't comprehend the matter without a handful of Codienes anyway. But, if you like light, melodic, non-rocking synth pop you can't go wrong here

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Matt     Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: Jeez, Capn, I'm starting to like you more and more.  I'll admit I thought you were a complete egotistical jerk when I first started reading this site, but lately I've come to realize how wrong I was. 

I'd have to mostly agree with your assessment on this album.  It's quite good as long as you don't mind an album that's incredibly sedate all the way through.  That's the only complaint I have about it: this is one of those albums where you have to be in the right frame of mind while listening to it.  But man, there's still some great stuff on here.  Leadoff single "More Than This" is arguably the best song on the whole thing, but the title track is also a strong contender for that title.  Interesting how the title track has a very reggae-ish feel to it and sounds like it would fit perfectly on Synchronicity by the Police.  As you said, the instrumentals on here are very pretty and relaxing, and provide a nice flow to the album as well.  There's really not too much to say about the rest as there isn't a lot of diversity here, but I will also agree with you on The Main Thing, which is the funkiest number on here.  I love the way the bass is played in this bwompy (if that's a word).

Overall, a pleasant listening experience, and it's a shame this wasn't a bigger hit in the US (this album only peaked at #53 on the album charts!  Although it has sold well over time and has gone at least gold).  Still, it's one of those great "lost treasures" that takes a keen eye to spot.  Fortunately for me, I located this in a record store and got it for 7 bucks (and it was a new copy too!).  Well worth the money, and then some.  A great album to listen to if you're taking a stroll along the beach as the sun is coming up.


Heart Still Beating - Reprise 1990.

Is that title referring to the song or reminding us that, no matter how blunted they may sound this is still in fact Bryan, Phil and Andy playing on here? No doubt attending a Roxy concert in 1973 was a completely different experience than attending one in 1983 and listening to this live record from the Avalon tour directly after Viva! is about as jarring as hitting a Mack truck head on in your Geo Sprint. Oh, some things haven't changed, like how they still play songs nearly note perfect, the sound is all right, there's backup singers, yadda yadda. But my god, on Viva! 'Out of the Blue' was a damned metal tune. Here? Phil's Marshall balls have been cut off and he's pushed way to one side to made way for...who? All the emphasis is on the drumming (distractingly recorded in stereo) and Bryan's less interesting warble-less voice. Narf. The sound sounds like there's no guitar at all, no center in the mix and no meat in the stew, but at least its slick and professional. They also attempt 'Love Is the Drug' (Duran Duran, eat your heart out), 'A Song For Europe', 'Both Ends Burning' and 'Editions Of You' from the real old days, while I understand doing 'Drug' and 'Europe' in the new, toothless style, attempting the other two was a real mistake. Like where the hell is the cool beginning on 'Burning'? And why do they decide to play most of the beginning as a loping reggae song? No, no...I know the answer. They simply are unable to play it the old way any more. Even the fast part rocks less than Barry Mannilow. And even trying an Eno-era song like 'Editions' (though at least it is done as fast and rocking as they could muster) is just a joke...that synth solo is laughably incompetent shite!

As for the more modern stuff, of course this band is able to cover the spread on these or else what's the point anyway? And why is there so little Avalon material on here? Did I get my dates wrong and this is actually from the Flush + Brood tour? Accessing they tell me, yup, it's from 1982. Where's 'More Than This'? 'Like A Hurricaine' and 'Jealous Guy' are fairly interesting cover material, but what's the point? All this does to me is make me yearn for the old days when the band could rip it up hard. Right now its not quite Adult Contemporary but its far, far from being real rock music. If you worship Avalon and want a sampler of the older stuff done in the new style, this may be for you. For others, just steer clear. This is way too far into the generic milquetoast category despite how nice they can sound at times.

Capn's Final Word: The Reflex...leaves the answers with a question mark! The a lonely child!

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