George Starostin's Reviews



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Alan Prescott <> (02.02.2001)

There are several salient reasons why I'm taking the time to correspond. First of all, although I've been paying rather too close attention to Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music for my health over the last two-and-a-half decades, I didn't like the band at first and came later to appreciate their sound compared with wannabes that followed in their sometimes errant footsteps (ABC, Spandau Ballet, Oasis et al.). Second, your writing and inspiration are first-rate. Third, you say Selling England by the Pound is one of your favorite albums. Fourth, despite being what you might realistically describe as a fanatic, I do follow several other completely different bands with only slightly less enthusiasm: Nick Cave and Birthday Party, Lou Reed, early Genesis, Gentle Giant, 10CC (How Dare You? is far and away their best) and Robert Plant's solo career. In other words, although I can't be completely objective, I do have a day job. Here are a few random observations.

Since I have an extensive collection of non-album material and something besides Avalon, I know a thing or two about the Roxy/Ferry process. About Ferry's disappointing performance on his solo work, the band's first seminal album, the lush sound of Avalon, Eno's departure, and the sometimes improperly rehearsed live performances, enough clichés have been spouted to fill a river of salt. I'm not sure I have much to add to the cacophony, especially since it seems most critics who pay attention to this under-appreciated group are bent on idolizing or trashing them for the alleged size of their footprints or the undeniable fact of their occasional shallowness.

In reality, it doesn't matter whether they influenced everyone or no one in the music scene, because they remained aloof from not only that scene in general in the beginning, but from their fans ultimately. Ferry's well-known neediness for praise contrasts so strongly with his refusal to capitalize on his talents for years at a stretch that he's left die-hards like me feeling a little embarrassed. The recently announced re-formation of Roxy Music for a tour makes us wish for an album, which won't happen apparently, and folks like me have grown weary of scavenging the boot bins at vinyl stores for the poorly recorded live acts from Oslo to Oakland to Osaka.

Although I think something can be said for analyzing and critiquing albums of any band as a whole, I've always seen the individual tracks for what they were originally intended to be: random, focused and individual. The pressure to put some all-encompassing label on the cover goes way back to concept albums or collections of works by a particular writer or what have you. Personally, I'd be happy with Gabriel's early habit of naming them all the same or Led Zep's numbering. Except for the sake of archival convenience, there doesn't seem to be any reason to call an album by anything other than the bullet, or band's favorite song, Untitled or something entirely unrelated and, by extension, any reason to judge them on the whole unless they are concepts like Tommy or The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

There are losers and winners on all of the albums, but if you put a gun to my head, I would pick Four Your Pleasure as the best Roxy, and Boys and Girls as the best Ferry, with Country Life and In Your Mind close seconds. Why? It's more for what they don't contain. I could do without 'Psalm' and 'Triptych' and 'You Are My Sunshine' and 'Amazing Grace' and 'Help Me Make It through the Night', but this is an individual's point of view. Since there are something like 200 Ferry/Roxy tracks in aggregate with another 100 "versions" (not including the thousands of live tracks floating around), there's too much to encapsulate. Because it is so difficult to find any band on the planet besides the Beatles whose output was so stylistically varied, one has to review each track on its own merits. The only place such a ridiculously large archive can exist is in the mind of someone like me, who can summon a personal review in a moment's notice on any piece recorded by Roxy or Ferry. No one has either the patience or interest to know all of what's in there. Thank goodness.

That being said, I do appreciate a forum in which one can express a well-considered opinion--and I don't refer to the numerous Roxy/Ferry fan sites that are full of stupid chat among 25-year-olds whose first experience with Roxy Music was 'Dance Away' or 'Jealous Guy'. The archive remains mostly inside my head and comments for all of it pretty much stay there. I learned lessons when I've played this music for friends and got back a stare of incomprehension or a dismissive assessment. Except for the other night when I played 'Sunset' for my new girlfriend while our local star was sinking low over the Pacific. She remained silent for quite a while after that one.

<> (30.12.2003)

Oh dear... I just read those last comments... How tragic, I've been there, thinking Roxy was absolutely the greatest thing known to man and then putting it on for someone, explaining about how when I finally have my band it's going to be art rock in the Roxy tradition, you know, good dance tunes with a trashy edge and an arty consciousness, and I've received everything from the legendary blank stare of incomprehension to sneers and grimaces accompanied by the exclamation, "What is WITH that voice?". It really disappoints me, obviously, since I love Roxy so very dearly.

I got into them through Bowie, and I knew Eno long before I'd heard anything about this Bryan Ferry bloke. I started with their first album, and I'm really glad I did, because I would have started with my mom's copy of Avalon except she'd lost it. Though I've come to terms with it more recently, I'm sure if I'd started with Avalon I wouldn't have made it any further. As it is, I realized that half of Roxy's first album was in Velvet Goldmine and flipped out with excitement. Here I was thinking Bowie was The Ultimate, and then this comes along... It was much easier for me than Bowie, whom I actually took quite a while to come around to. Roxy is polished, sounds modern, it's catchy and Ferry's voice... my God... But anyway. Perfect for my own personal tastes, like the really harmonious combination of Radiohead and Bowie.

But despite how great I know Roxy is, I really still regard them as the great tragedy. I mean, I had the misfortune of going to see them over the summer, and... well. There I was, tall skinny twenty year old in green eyeshadow, stilettos, and false eyelashes, alone in a half empty stadium of overweight middleagers who went out of their heads at the first chords of "Oh Yeah" (fuck, do I ever hate that song...). I've been recovering from that terrible experience for a while, now. I've been struggling to figure out what Roxy's demographic would be, but I must confess I'm at a loss, because the only people that have ever told me they like them are the long haired grungy guys who run the record stores. I thought they were kind of a chic group, but then I remembered that every girl except me is a moron. I don't know. Maybe the memory of Roxy stands better in England than it does in Canada or the US. I'll finish by recalling a recent event of my downing rye and giners relating the story of the disppointing concert and, in an effort to dramaticize my inner turmoil, I yelled out something to the effect of "Bryan Ferry, I love you!" The only person who really paid attention was a former male model who muttered "Bryan Ferry..." and then proceeded to snicker. Take from that story what you will. I enjoy it's randomness.


Richard C. Dickison <> (09.08.99)

'Ladytron' is smooth and flawless and boy what legs, 'If There Is Something' was a true gem of this album. But this album is only the beginning and they were still trying to be more than they were. No, Roxy Music was never going to be the revolution that Eno hoped it would be but who cares. They had loads of moments that could take your breathe away and to think this really was pop music. They never once tried to have any pretenses about that. Time has given me an admiration for the work these guys did, lounge lizard music that it was, but the martinis made here were top shelf all the way.

Rich Bunnell <> (05.09.2000)

A very interesting album, largely because the band was under the control of Eno, but he hadn't yet directed the band into a cold, dark groove yet (as on For Your Pleasure) and instead was trying every little musical trick he could possibly try. It mostly works, especially on the first side, as the band cranks out thumping experimental poppers like "Re-make/Re-model" and "Virginia Plain" alongside Ferry crooners (which work, unlike later) like "2 H.B" and "Ladytron." And smackdab in the middle of those four is the pseudo-epic "If There Is Something," which starts out hokey but gets less and less hokey and more and more robotic and Eno-ish as the song progresses, and it really works. The second side isn't as consistent, because the songs are either lifeless or ruin a perfectly fine melody by incorporating a weaker melody into the song, like those wannabe-"21st Century Schizoid Man" sections which render "The Bob" unlistenable. Still a good, fascinating album, and the very fact that it was the first album made with the help of Eno makes it worthwhile in itself. An eight.

Rob Say <> (11.10.2000)

What are you guys on about ?? "Virginia Plain" was NEVER on Roxy Music - it was released as a single only. (Well, it certainly is on Roxy Music now - at least, on the CD edition - G.S.)

OK maybe I should have been a little more specific. "Virginia Plain" was never on the UK (original) release of the album in 72. It was released at the same time as the album in the summer of 72. Similarly, "Pyjamarama" was released simultameously with For Your Pleasure in early 73.

Anyway I was inspired to revisit Roxy Music (and in fact all of the first 5 Roxy albums - the only ones that count in my book) when I recently saw the movie "Velvet Goldmine" on TV. This movie features 4 Roxy songs from the early days - "2HB", "Ladytron", "Bitters End" and "Virginia Plain". Only the last is the original Roxy version although Andy Mackay is involved in "Bitters End".

It IS a great album although I agree that For Your Pleasure is the best. I think what really made Roxy stand out when they first got airplay was probably not just Ferry's oh-so-referential lyrics but that OBOE from Mackay - even more than his sax it's the oboe that gives Roxy that HAUNTING quality. Eno certainly gives the first 2 albums more EDGE than the later 3 but he is a little raw on the first album. The man however has rightly earned his place in history with the Roxy albums as well as Another Green World and Heroes (passing quickly over Seven Deadly Finns). He remains a genius.

I don't know if I agree that "If There Is Something" is the best track on the album (although there's that oboe again). If "Virginia Plain" was on my version of the album I'd probably choose that but of the remainder I don't know that any really stands out (unusually). I think it's easy to spot "The Bob" as the worse track although it does have its moments (as when the "too many times beautiful" section crawls out of all that gunfire.). Highlights for me are:

"Re-Make/Re-Model" - the bit at the end when all the instruments play the same passage in turn

"Sea Breezes" - think you've underrated this a bit - hypnotic as you say and "We've been running round in our present state" etc just walks down your spine in snowboots

"Bitters End" - it just reeks of 20's Berlin decadence doesn't it ? It could have been in Cabaret. "You are the raven of October" has to be one of the best lines in rock's canon - whatever it means. It's in keeping with the whole moody, haunting feel of this album.

Anthony Stewart <> (30.05.2002)

This is and was the real roxy music. they were a concept band that came virtually out of nowhere and declared themselves stars. They had the look and they had the sound. "Virginia Plain" which is not on the Album put them in the charts. They followed it up with a very carefully choreographed show and look that is reflected in the Cover of the disc. "Re-Make Re-Model It" opens on a rocking note, but it is definetly EURO! Eno and his tapeloops add the neccessary dimensions. The slightly atonal music was hypnotizing. "Ladytron" was a beautiful ode to a donna. "If There Is Something" showcases Bryan ferry's songwriting skills that he honed by himself, never having seen a piano before. "2 H.B" with the delayed dreamy Sax break is stupendous. Side 2 suffers from a notable drop in quality. still very impressive. Give it a 8.

<> (30.12.2003)

My first Roxy album, and probably my favourite Roxy cover. The tragedy of Roxy having very long ago ended is that I'll never get to be a Roxy cover model... Doesn't Ferry have some twenty year old girlfriend these days, though? Perhaps there's still hope... ANYWAY, on to the music... For sentimental reasons, this is probably my favourite Roxy album, though I think For Your Pleasure is probably better. But I don't hate side two as most people seem to. "Chance Meeting" is such a wonderful, wonderful song... It's like a creepy modernization of "Where or When", a fact that I'm sure Ferry was aware of. The song titles are the best on this album, anyway. "Ladytron"? Fuck, that's brilliant. Conjures images of pink metal (for me, anyway--like a really awful robot sex toy thing, or something). "Remake/Remodel", too. The wonderful thing about Roxy is that they're so subversive... The revolution is a quiet one, or, at least, more quiet than Bowie or Bolan could have been. But then, Roxy's members went to school, didn't they? Mostly everything has already been said... I just wanted to offer some words in defnse of the underrated side two. I mean, fine, "The Bob" is long, and a bit odd, but it's not really boring, and the beginning and end with Ferry matching the guitar are really powerful. But then... Oh, I don't know. It's such a sentimental album, like it's sentimental about the end of glam before it had even really begun...

Oh, wait. I do have something sort of interesting to say. I had one of those "look of the Century" or something books that were kind of big right before the millenium, and it has this album cover in it saying how Roxy were the first group to include credits for hair, makeup, and cover concept on their album sleeve. Good aesthetic taste AND talent? This must be too good to be true...


Adrian <> (15.10.99)

I am 20, and just recently discovered Roxy Music. My first album was Siren, and I quickly went on to grab the rest. The only ones I don't have right now are Manifesto and Flesh & Blood. I must say that For Your Pleasure is my favorite album, but 'If There Something ' is my favorite song (especailly the Viva version). I'm just writing to comment on 'Bogus Man.' I agree, it is quite an amazing piece of music. I never liked it in the past, then one day while cleaning my house I sat down and listened to it when it came on. I just listened, and started picking out all the little noises and sounds here and there. It is a sound that really demands your attention.

I know that Roxy Music is only listed as a 3 star classic rock band on your list, but I feel their sound and style (at least till Siren) was never equaled.

Mike DeFabio <> (20.04.2000)

This is the only Roxy Music album I've heard so far, but it's a terrific first impression. Some people might think it's too slow, but I don't. The slow ones are the best ones, I think. "Do The Strand" and "Editions of You" are more than welcome, but it's the darker, spookier stuff like "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" and the title track that really does it for me. And "The Bogus Man" is hardly bad, either. I really don't know if there's a best or worst song on here, actually. It's true that there isn't any real highlight, but then again, highlights mean the rest of the stuff is inferior. This is a consistent album. I'd give it at least a twelve, and if I don't listen to it too much and get sick of it, a thirteen. If Stranded is better than this, I'm all for it. I just got this one first 'cause I dig Eno.

Rich Bunnell <> (04.06.2000)

I personally could only give this album an eight. This is entirely due to "Beauty Queen" and "Strictly Confidential," which are really, REALLY boring and slow the album to a dead halt between the amazing pseudo-dance stuff like "Do The Strand" and "Editions Of You." I really like everything else though, particularly "The Bogus Man"(which doesn't bore me at all despite repeating a fairly simplistic musical idea for almost ten minutes) and "In Every Dream Home A Heartache"(creepy!) Like I said, I can only give it an eight because of those two duffers (they -really- interrupt the album's flow), but every other song on the album completely rules. Eno would go on to better things, though.

Rob Say <> (16.10.2000)

Undoubtedly Roxy's finest hour (too many flat moments on Stranded). FYP is the album of which Julie Burchill (I think), notorious 70's UK music journo, said she listened to with the razorblades at her side. "Angst" and alienation are the key themes of this album and its soul is darkness right down to that cruel beauty on the sleeve.

Best track and probably the best Roxy track of all is "Editions of You". Nobody else (certainly not Ferry in his later years) could write a line like

"And as I was drifting past the Lorelei, I heard distinctly Sirens wail (woooo)."

Somebody should write a thesis on the imagery of the Siren in Roxy's first 5 albums. "Editions of You" is as perfect a 3 (or 4 ?) minute rock song as you can get.

Don't underrate "Beauty Queen" or "Strictly Confidential". "Beauty Queen", a song about Ferry's relationship at the time with Valerie Leon (Val-er-ie, plee -ease....believe), one-time UK beauty queen and B-movie actress, does start slow but builds to an impressive climax from

".....neighbours Who said that you'll go far, maybe some day be a star A fast mover like you, and your dreams will all come true ..." Wonderful.

Yeah, "Strictly Confidential" is slow and gloomy but it is a song about imminent death after all. Again it builds to a storming climax before a rather (deliberately ?) bathetic ending.

The other mesmerizing moment nobody has mentioned is the shimmering, frosty-night feel of "For Your Pleasure" itself, that closes out the album. How come Roxy never went on to make anything quite so good ? "Don't .... Ask.....Why".

Mattias Lundberg <> (27.02.2002)

I think this is the best Roxy album featuring Eno (which is perhaps not a very exciting statement, because it's a 50/50 decision) because this is the perfect balance of Eno playing with his toys under Ferry's supervision. 'Editions of you' is an amazing song, and Eno's sounds lend that hysterical Bacchanal feeling conveyed by so many early Roxy songs. 'Do the strand' and 'In every dream home a heartache' are also very good songs, the one frantic, the other murky, the one grotesque, the other beautiful. Never have a package been so representative of its contents as is this record sleeve.

The Astounding Manic Depresso <> (29.08.2002)

I think that For Your Pleasure and Country Life are tied in my mind for best roxy album. for your pleasure is yes a dark, thrilling, decadent film noir of an album. though my favorite songs are 'In Every Dreamhome a Heartache' (that is one killer guitar solo in the end i must say) and the closing title track. 'For Your Pleasure' (the song) is to me the greatest album closer i've ever heard. it starts out as this simple sort of song but the eno influence takes over and it all just sort of slowly fades to delay feedback and it just sounds phenomenal. it reminds me of the best moments of steve reich and the drumming is the only thing that doesn't completely melt and it sounds perfectly teutonic. (btw, who is it saying "you didn't ask why" near the very end?)

i think country life is better than you give it credit for. i think its an awkward album because it sort of bounces between sort of slick, sophisticated, moody pieces and purposely stripped down hard rocking glam, but in a vacuum both halves work great and they meet in the middle on 'The Thrill of it All'. but my favorite tracks are 'Bitter Sweet' and 'Prairie Rose'. 'Prairie Rose' is the 'TVC15' of roxy music. its deceptively simple at first and slowly grows to these unexplored heights.

on a personal note i dont understand your distaste for david bowie and brian eno. bryan ferry is a great singer and a great songwriter but he's hardly a musical visionary. it was bowie and eno, working together or apart, that brought experimental rock, the velvet underground, electronics and post-punk into the mainstream and made it possible for every new wave, synth pop, goth rock, not to mention industrial and electronica artist of the ensuing decades to be both artistically and commercially viable. bryan ferry is little more than a post-modern frank sinatra wannabe.

<> (31.12.2003)

Fine, Bryan Ferry's a lounge singer, but when I say it it's pure affection. True, he's trash, but he's got way too much class not to know it, and that's why he rises above. Why else would he use pin up girls for all of Roxy's album covers if he weren't consciously coveting trash? And yes, fine, I love Eno as much or more than the next person, but he didn't actually write any of the bloody songs.

The truth remains, however, that this is, without question, the best Roxy Music album, and, for me, one of the greatest albums I;ve ever been fortunate enough to listen to. Every track is perfect, and I don't care if anyone wants to call "Beauty Queen" boring, or whatever they want to say, because you're an idiot if you think that. The first time I heard it I thought it was brilliant, this stupid crooner's love song set against this strange electronic soundscape, it's the embodiement of everything that made Roxy's approach unique-- synthesis, of course! Ferry's tolerable as a crooner because of the appraoch, conscious camp, twisted through the space age and coming out like some strange alien interpretation of a garbled broadcast of Forties standards. And, naturally, "Do the Strand" is amazing... I still don't even know all the lyrics, and every time I realize what's being said at a given moment it's like a new pleasant and humourous revelation... (Rododendron? Where the hell did that come from??). The original Rolling Stone review of this album labels it incomprehensible. To me, that just solidifies its greatness. The extended ending of the title track is by no means unusual or offputting by today's standards, making it nothing short of brilliant in context. And my goodness! Did I even MENTION "In Every Dreamhome a Heartache"? "Your skin is like vinyl, the perfect companion..." or "My breath is inside you"? Reasons why I figured Roxy were a girl band, but maybe it just takes a twisted mind to view it in that light... Regardless, I think it's an incredibly sexy song (I'm just a really lousy feminist, I guess). And then there's the sound of Ferry panting at the end of "Bogus Man"... I should stop before I turn every guy off this album. But really. I wouldn't begrudge my boyfriend a little Bryan Ferry adoration. Unfortunately for Ferry, though (or perhaps more fortune for his eventual resurfacing as icon for middle agaed women in the 80s), he just didn't quite have the cheekbones for anything like androgyny... Gee, is that the real reason why Eno is more popular?

Alexey Provolotsky <> (04.11.2005)

Powerful stuff. Loud and powerful. I adore the sound, so rich and so wide and so smooth. The songs. The songs are all extremely strong; catchy and emotional. My favourite would be the moody “In Every Dream Home…”, which starts in a very gloomy (and that surely is a majestic gloom) way and then there is that fantastic “BUT YOU BLEW MY MIND” and they carry on with chaos and anger (amazing!). My second favourite is definitely the reasonably long “The Bogus Man”. Does that song thrill me! Then there’s the engaging “Editions Of You” with that mindblowing opening and powerful singing (to say nothing of the track’s catchiness!). Then there are “Do The Strand” and the title song, both are extremely solid framing tracks, with the latter having that draggy repetitive groove, that I love so much. As for the remaining ballads, they are all nice and feature Ferry’s utterly emotional singing. “Blue Lagoons” is the closest they got to a letdown here, but why should I put down a good track only because it’s not THAT good?

A very well-thought, and well-produced record. I have no problems with giving it one of my thirteens.


Rich Bunnell <> (15.07.2000)

Believe it or not, I wasn't really bowled over by this album on first listen. To me, it just sounded like after Eno left, they took the more boring Bryan-Ferry-croons-over-a-generic-beat songs from For Your Pleasure and filled up a whole album with it. Then I noticed that the production was a lot better and the melodies much, much stronger than those BORING songs (yes, they're BORING. BOOOOORING.) and now I absolutely love this album. "Mother Of Pearl" is actually my favorite song on the album (I love that extended vocal outro after the actual song ends), but "Street Life" is definitely the catchiest. Truly the sound of Roxy Music learning that disco and rock could be fused together into an energetic sound that doesn't sound stupid at all. The entire album is pretty much good, though I'm not too fond of "Psalm" myself, which doesn't really do anything to distinguish itself, and it being the longest song on the album doesn't make that fact any better. "Sunset," on the other hand, I actually feel does a remarkable job of closing the album-- it might not be grandiose at all, but it's melodic and effective. A NINE.

How come everybody's given Roxy this image of always putting "gorgeous women" on their covers, without noticing how freaking ugly all of them are? Except for the one on Siren! Rrrrrrrrrow!

David Lyons <> (14.12.2000)

Pointless fact alert - Brian Eno is on record as selecting this as his favourite Roxy album.

Mattias Lundberg <> (27.02.2002)

You're right about there being no major stylistic departure after Eno left the band, but I still don't think the post-73 albums would have sounded the same had Eno never been a band member; the Eno heritage is omnipresent up to, say 'Manifesto'. I think the Latin phrases and the anglified French pronounciation are charming. You see, Ferry shows the world that you could be the most extravagant and self-indulgent person in the world as long as you're basically taking the piss. And after that he could say 'Now, listen, I'm serious on this one' and everyone takes him for just that. I can't understand how he makes it work but it sure does. All the songs on here are great, none mentioned, none forgotten.

<> (02.01.2004)

After hearing all the "hype" about this album (most people call it their best, don't they?) I was kind of disappointed. It was the last of Roxy's pre-breakup albums that I bought, and I guess... I don't know. I just don't love it anywhere near as much as For Your Pleasure, and I guess it's just a bit disappointing for that reason. But it is a fabulous album. "Psalm" is not my favourite thing in the world, though I've come around to it somewhat... I guess the first time I heard it I got frightened that it might actually be serious, and that maybe Ferry was religious, or something, but since I've learned a little more about Ferry and Roxy I think I was quite wrong, a fact which makes it infinitely more enjoyable (gee, I can actually listen to the music instead of being hung up on the philosophical leanings of its author... what a concept!). I'm not especially taken with "Song for Europe", either. It felt like... It felt like something I'd already written, all this romantic stuff about cafes and rivers... It really sounds like some song that I was waiting for, something that I was really waiting to come along and mean the world to me, and then when it finally did, I just felt embarrassed. Yeah, that's it. "Song for Europe" embarrasses me. The French and Latin are just, well... HOKEY, I don't know... I like it, really, but I'm not comfortable about liking it. I really don't think it's one of their best songs. "Mother of Pearl", on the other hand... Here's a song I hadn't considered writing but that I feel like imitating in retrospect. And I admit, it's one of those anthemic songs where it's way to easy to apply the lyrics to yourself and put too much meaning into it... But I don't care. There's nothing wrong with feeling something for something once in a while. Lyrically, "Mother of Pearl" is probably my favourite Roxy song, and that's saying something (believing in things like this song become somehow monumentally important when I'm trying to fight my way between frazzled mothers with giant shopping carts scrambling for discounts while I just pick up my Texas toast and chocolate milk--believing in something separate and meaningful but ultimately hopeless becomes very exotic and important). I guess... Yes, in the light of what I just wrote, I do care about this album a great deal. I suppose it's just anticlimactic because I bought the album AFTER seeing that horrible reunion concert, and have been sort of embarrassed about continuing to love Roxy ever since. But it's true--they would never be the same after this. They had moments, but nothing like this. And yes--it is 85 miles superior to Aladdin Sane. It's evocative of selective nostalgia for a time that might never have existed but is nonetheless nearly tangible without being bogged down by mountains of cocaine. And the cover model isn't ugly--if she wasn't sopping wet with twelve inches of drag queen makeup she might have been good looking... Like it matters. If you don't think they're pretty it's just 'cause you're not into the Roxy girl aesthetic (someday I'll write a paper), which is, esentially, the exagerrated everything of the pinup girl--though, in the context of when the covers were done, it also has the effect of creating an interesting grey area... Amanda Lear was from For Your Pleasure cover was supposedly a transvestite--it's about taking models and turning them into a living representation of a Warhol portrait--draggy makeup on beautiful faces that turns everyone into a female impersonator.

Well. I've been quite pretentious enough for one afternoon.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (04.11.2005)

If you ask me, it’s not as good as FYP. I don’t want to hurt Brian Eno, but his departure is not that evident. Roughly speaking, the album is like twin brother to the previous one. So, Stranded. I also had problems with defining the best song here at first (“Amazona”? “A Song For Europe”? “Mother Of Pearl”?). But now I’m absolutely sure about that: it’s the sad, pessimistic, heart-breaking “A Song For Europe”. I can freely proclaim right now that it is their best song ever (I’ve heard only two albums by the band, so I can judge). Everything works! English, Latin, French – everything Bryan does on that track is magic (what’s with giving them a 3 for resonance?). Besides, we have the energetic “Street Life” (a clone, really, but I don’t mind), the dreamy ballad “Just Like You” with Ferry’s gorgeous romantic singing. Speaking about the amusing “Amazona”, I also can’t but mention that rhyme, it’s awesome. “Psalm” is a bit overlong, but you can’t go wrong with that soulful vocal delivery. And “Mother Of Pearl”, of course, which has the best moment on the whole album (“no, no, no – yes” – fucking brilliant! (sorry for being rude, but hear that for yourself and tell me you can do without the word)). As for “Serenade” and “Sunset”, they are weaker. I can’t deny the lovely melody of the former and the exquisite atmosphere of the latter, but I believe they could do better.

Coming back to Earth (sorry for the pathos, but “A Song For Europe” is really beautiful), let’s rate the record. It’s something about 12,62 on George’s scale. Means Stranded is not good enough for a 13 and a 12 is not good enough for Stranded. BUT! A 13 seems to me a bit fairer ra… Forget that.

Breck Brizendine <> (27.03.2006)

I can't believe you didn't mention "Serenade" !

In an album full of great songs, that one just steals my heart. Hah, I played it once for a girl that I thought would like it and she sniffed, "Sounds like Bowie crossed with Queen," but this was recorded years before Queen and I personally think Queen never approximated its understated, unpretentious gradeur.

I'm turning all my younger friends on to Roxy... Once I tell them "They're not trying to beat you over the head" they get it and really begin to enjoy themselves.


Rich Bunnell <> (06.03.2001)

I held off on getting this album for a while because I was too embarassed to approach a record store cashier with that hideous, disgusting cover. Okay, so the other Roxy covers are "decadent," "gorgeous," etc., etc., but this one's just trashy and puke-inducing. Is that one on the right even a woman? Luckily, it turned out that the music was great! The songs are busier, less loungey and more rock-influenced than on any other Roxy release, but the melodies are all up to the band's usual high standards and most of the songs are genuinely exciting. "The Thrill Of It All" awes me with its expansive, abrasive arena sound, and almost every other song on the album is a messy, enjoyable delight. I'm forced to stand up for "All I Want Is You" - it's a completely different song than "Thrill" and not a pale shadow at all; just because it contains guitars and Bryan Ferry doesn't make it identical stylistically to it, and the song is really really catchy. "If It Takes All Night" is stupid, but still fun in a drunk sort of way. And "Out Of The Blue" and "Prairie Rose" are outright brilliant. The rest is the rest, and the rest is damn good. I wouldn't rate this as equal to Stranded, but it's a strong album in its own right and easily deserves a 9/10.

Mattias Lundberg <> (05.03.2002)

I'd say this is on par with Stranded. A bit more 'rootsy', most of these songs are really good and none are intolerable. 'The thrill of it all' and 'Out of the blue' (great job by Jobson) are the pillars of this temple, and they alone would justify any sensible person in buying the album. But I think the experiments are really good as well - even if most of them were abandoned as Siren presented something new, but different. Even if there's not that much electronic noises, this album is still highly Enoesque, I'd say. Manzanera's playing on this album can be appreciated all the more if you've heard him elsewhere. And yes, this cover is as tasteless as your average Ferry Aestheticism, so don't leave the cover out when you've got visitors.

<> (02.01.2004)

Gee, I had to order this one from Amazon, but I sure would have loved to buy it in a stoer and get a great look from the attendant. Ha ha! It's fun when you're a girl to fuck with guys and tell them you're bisexual. ANYWAY... I was nothing short of shocked when I first put this on my turntable. In retrospect, it was more the fault of a bad pressing, but anyway... It's a lot different than Stranded. I don't think it's because it's stripped down, though. I always think of this album as being muddier, closer to For Your Pleasure. I find it more decadent than Stranded. The guitar is really centre stage, almost harshly so on "All I Want is You". It's certain;y they're most diverse, album, though... And yes, it is cruel to slide "If it Takes All Night" in after that electric violin. It really makes you resent the song for spoiling the mood. "Out of the Blue" should have ended the side. You need silence after something like that. Contemplative silence. What makes "Thrill of it All" so great is the drumbeat... That kind of relentless, simple Velvet Underground drum sound is really a staple of Roxy's "rockers" and I love it--it so perfectly conteracts the "complexity" I suppose they're identified with. "Cassanova" isn't a throwaway, though. It's fun and hard and noisy... I love it when there's more noise than you know what to do with but somehow it works... Is "Prarie Rose" about Jerry Hall? Were they together at that point? Must be. That would be degrading, nearly as bad as getting someone's name tattooed on your body right before they dump you. "Country Life" just sounds, I don't know, more ASSURED than their other albums. It sounds like they've finally figured out how to just do what they do really well and produce a really slick product--a fact which can be good or bad depending on where you stand. I'll always take away from it, though, this great image of them performing "All I Want is You", looking really dispassionate, with Ferry in that military uniform (sans moustache, thank God) standing up straight with his hands in his pockets for the whole thing. God, that's brilliant. Such a silly song with that visual...

Oh. About the cover. I don't know how true it is, but I read it somewhere, and it's a great story. It was that those two girls were in some club in Germany, trying to get the DJ to play Roxy stuff, and the DJ looked at the picture of the band, pointed at Ferry and goes, "This guy's upstairs right now." So they went and met him and got to be on the cover. But then I heard some other story about how Ferry and Co. saw the girls at the beach and decided to use them because they were so "huge". Whichever version you prefer, they're both pretty great.

Ilya Nemetz <> (24.03.2004)

‘…that cheesy ending 'hey, hey - PRAIRIE ROSE! hey, hey - PRAIRIE ROSE!' really gets on my nerves...’

Heh… Pardon me, George... This passage reminds me quite strongly of that well-known Jewish (Odessite, of course) joke my grandfather likes to tell in Russian. It's about Monya’s (variations: Yasha’s, Moisha’s, Shmulik’s) rendition of Caruso. That said, I can see your point, even if I fail to agree.

In my judgment, Country Life is Roxy’s second best record (the first being Stranded, no doubt), and their strongest melody-wise. Were Ferry’s vocals slightly higher in the mix, and instrumental part a bit lower, it could have easily been their apex. Overall, a somewhat weak 9, I think. Now, I’m not sure whether it’s 12 or 13, in other words, is Roxy a three- or a four-star band (they deserve 3 ½ stars, damn it!). But these are minor details, I guess.


Richard C. Dickison <> (28.08.99)

The secret of this album is that disco sound, it sounded similar to the crap on the radio but, hey wait these guy's actually sound intelligent. That Ferry voice just pulled it together and gave it wings. This album will always be in my collection in what ever form music recordings take from here on out. Note to the people who have not heard this album: just buy it and forget that every music critic has changed their mind and likes this album now. Those flakes don't know anything anyway.

Rich Bunnell <> (19.02.2000)

Yeah, it's disco-pop, but like Dick said, it actually sounds intelligent. Could you say that about K.C. and the Sunshine Band? The Village People? The Bee Gees in their more discofied era? I wouldn't reckon so. Not to mention that this stuff is all really catchy, in fact, some of the stuff that -isn't- disco, like "End Of The Line," is boring as hell. Otherwise, the songs are amazing ("Both Ends Burning," "Just Another High," and "She Sells" impressing me most of all), Ferry's voice croons through the pulsing beats wonderfully, and "Love Is The Drug" is snappy and jerky and just oh-so-unlike the disco of the era. And nice mythology reference on the cover! A nine.

Mattias Lundberg <> (05.03.2002)

The best Roxy Music album, full stop. And man, is disco as a genre underrated among you guys !! Some of you use it as a deprecating and belittling term ! I don't find it aesthetically corrupt at all, and historically it can't have done half the damage to 'intelligent' music that punk did . Well, as Siren stands it's not much disco here anyway, so I can't really see why so many people dislike this ripe fruit of the first Roxy period. On a technical level this album is open to criticism; Ferry's tuning is pretty bad at times and bad intonation is something I've always had problems with (sorry, Robert Plant lovers). Again our tastes jar, my good Starostin - 'She sells' and 'Nightingale' are my favourites on this album. I love the atmosphere of the latter. By the way, is this John Gustafson the same guy as the one on J.C. Superstar by Sir Webber ? Well, one thing is for sure - his plectrum sound has an edge worthy of a Squire (which in my paradigm is a huge compliment). Listen to 'Whirlwind', where the bass licks sound like explosions.

Cosmic Charlie <> (06.04.2002)

I'm in complete agreement with Mattias here that this is Roxy's shining moment. In fact, Mattias chooses the perfect metaphor: Siren IS the ripe fruit of its predecessors. You could take the best tracks from Stranded and Country Life, put them on one record, and the result will still be less than Siren. The album works, however, not just because they are all great tunes, but because they follow one another in a way that just seems predestined by the gods. Each track, from the radio-friendly "Love is the Drug" through to the sensational closer "Just Another High," is fresh and rewarding with every listen. My favorites are the last two tracks, but it's the overall effect here that's most impressive. These boys can play, and Ferry's voice has never been so inviting and appealing in its odd beauty. To take the praise a step further, Mattias, I'd call this one of the five best rock/pop albums ever. Egad!

<> (02.01.2004)

Yeah yeah... Rolling Stone says this was their best album. I don't agree, but it's still pretty fucking good.

But I don't understand everyone praising Ferry's voice, here. Except for a couple of tracks, it's almost always excessivley overdubbed, and though it still sounds fine, I wouldn't call it one of his standout vical performances. There's nothing with the thundering, unadulterated simplicity of "Beauty Queen" on Siren. Regardless, that falsetto in "Sentimental Fool" is breathtaking. This album is such a stumbling block for me, it's one of those things that defies convention. When I tell people I like a lot of Seventies music, they inevitably ask whether I like disco, and I have a hard time clarifying myself; there's just no easy way to explain something like this. It's like... Well, I really ENJOY dancing, but only if it's something you can really fall in love just with the sound of at the same time, and this is one of those few albums that accompli shes that. I don't feel guilty dancing to "Love is the Drug", though there's certainly no club in Ottawa that would ever play such a thing (for a national capital it's a really loser city). "Both Ends Burning" is the one that really took me a long time to come around to. At first, I loathed it, that creesy synth in the background... so eighties... but since I;ve become more accepting about these things in general, in addition to the fact that it's a great live song, I've grown to really love it. It still doesn't particularly fit with the rest of the album, though. There's is this very particular styling to the album, with the vocal overdubs and the disco bass and somewhat harnessed guitar, but "Both Ends Burning" is quite different. Ferry's voice is garbled through one of those whatchimicallits (I'm funny) and that synth I alreayd mentioned is really dominant. It's okay, though--it's sounds like a certerpiece. I just I just found it irritating back in the days when I really hated it, because I resented that such a lousy song should be the centerpiece of anything. Certainly my favourite disco album of all time, though I suppose that's not saying much. And Jerry Hall really is pretty, isn't she? I'm sure I'd resent such a person if I knew them personally, but as it is, I'll just admire her being so pretty. Again, though, I wonder if it's an embarrassing cover, looking back. I would never put my boyfriend on the cover of an album, but maybe that says more about my own mistrust than anything else.

On the whole, though, really, this is just a really solid, often beautiful album. It's less Roxy (whatever that means) but still great. I would have been very happy if this had been their last album, but no, they had to come back and ruin everything...


<> (08.09.2003)

"Pyjamarama" was the non-album single released to coincide with For Your Pleasure.


Richard C. Dickison <> (05.09.99)

OK, OK, so Brian and the rest of the guys are caught treading water on this one. Well damn it, this is the first album after their breakup and it shows they had not gotten their act back together yet. I think that Mr. Ferry still was having high hopes that he could dump this band and go solo and so he did not put much effort in here. I was not really impressed by that live album either though. I don't feel these guy's thought they were that great of a live band, their major efforts were in the studio and not to promote their live act. So there you have it the one Roxy Music album I say to stay away from, but it still is only one. That's pretty tight if you ask me, just one album that's an official dud, Ian Anderson wishes he could have that luck, bite me Mr. Jethro Dull. Hah, I say, Ha Ha.

Jeff Hlavaty <> (25.06.2001)

"There are ten songs on the album, and out of the ten, all ten are disco" - the title song and 'Trash' are certainly not disco.

I think that Ferry was exploring that sound - it was very popular.  Played live on the tour in support of the LP, the music came across with a hard, almost "punk" edge - the band was a (stripped down compared to following tours) six piece.

<> (06.06.2003)

I don't actually have this album, but I do have the live album Concerto (from the Manifesto tour) so I've heard six of the ten tracks ('Manifesto', 'Angel Eyes', 'Trash', 'Still Falls the Rain', 'Ain't That So', and 'Stronger Through the Years'). From just this sampling, I like the material from this album. As the other reviewer said, this stuff probably did come across better live... your main complaints were overproduction and Ferry's lackluster vocals. On Concerto, all of Bryan's vocals are a bit lacking (not having the studio gloss), so that part doesn't really detract from the songs. Also, the production is obviously stripped down for the live setting. "Angel Eyes" came across as a nice little bit of dance-pop that wouldn't seem out of place on Siren. To be honest, not much of this stuff is overtly discoey... live, most of it sounds like it would be perfect on the 1975 album. Check out Concerto, you may be surprised.

<> (02.01.2004)

I don't actually have much to say. I don't have either Manifesto or Flesh and Blood because I know they suck and don't want to sink that low. It's like how I still haven't bought Bowie's Young Americans. It's about principles: when do you become so obsessed with a band or artist that you're able to turn a blind eye to the fact that they're sucking? I can tolerate a lot, I even genuinely enjoy Bryan Ferry's eighties solo output, but asking me to embrace "Dance Away" or "Oh Yeah" is simply too big of a stretch.

That said, all I really wanted to comment on was the humour of the two reviews for these albums. I really get a kick out of both of them, makes the bitter pill that is these two albums easier to swallow if I'm able to laugh about it. So, thanks!

Breck Brizendine <> (27.03.2006)

Hey folks, this album is great! Tons of variety, tons of textures... sure, it's "Roxy Music Lite," but great songwriting is still great songwriting.

"Ain't That So" could be the opening music of a 50s Film Noir.


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Richard C. Dickison <> (18.09.99)

George, I obviously love this album more than you do. I would intercede to give Avalon a solid ten in any rating scale. Why? Because this album is a complete and wonderful example of a band being comfortable with their sound and abilities and being totally indifferent to current styles and fashion. This is a beautifully concieved and played album. They have stripped out any signs of experimentation and gone with only their strong points. The music compliments the vocals, and the picture is one of contemplation and yearning, it litterally echos with memory. This is truly a strongly ambient album based only subtle stlyes and layered atmospheres, mood rules and sets the direction entirely for all that you hear. Yes, I agree that some of the intros are distracting and long but I'm going to be very forgiving when the first note strikes and the results of many years of work and talent wash over any irritation. They had been listening in on Eno's Ambient recordings and like their strong early albums decided to follow his lead but also translate it to their musical abilities. I place this album on scales that include Wendy Carlos and Vangelis and Phillip Glass, this album is certainly electronic but also awash in jazz and drums. There is even sounds of sax tossed here and there. Bravo, to a great and wonderful band that strived harder to counter the casual vulgarities of modern music be it Rock, Dance or Electronic, with some intelligence, execution, and grace. This goes straight to my top ten albums of all time, I have gone hunting for albums influenced by smokey jazz and as good or better than this for a long time (and you know how many bands I've gone thru) and whenever I hear it I can only hope that people are not missing this brilliant album, don't believe me just buy this album and hear it for yourself.

Chris Greene <> (06.02.2001)

Avalon is among the best of the eighties (not my favorite decade) recordings I've heard. "More Than This" is especially inspiring, understated. Gives one lots of room to expand. Am now looking in used book stores for the early recordings; I remember the album covers in my college days but never owned one. Eno and Ferry - most intriguing.

Daniel Powel <> (21.05.2004)

After reading your review, I pulled Avalon off the internet to listen.

That said, I have one correction: the drums are not a machine, they are real (and some nice playing at that).


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Paul Watts <> (14.09.2005)

In Your Mind is just horrible. Bryan Ferry bows to the Great Gods of Disco. It sold well but has long been forgotten. Not a single redeeming feature.


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<> (03.12.2003)

If 'Diamond Head' were the only song written by Phil Manzanera and he never played another note he would still be the greatest guitarist ever,

Paul Watts <> (14.09.2005)

A couple of Manzanera works well worth hunting down are the K-Scope album and his Guitarissimo collection. Both excellent for different reasons. K-Scope (1978) features much of his pre-Roxy band (Ian and Bill McCormick) along with Tim Finn (Split Enz) on vocals and is certainly an accomplished late 70's mainstream rock album, I suppose in the vein of Roxy Music if that can be said in the absence of Bryan Ferry. I still have this one on vinyl. Guitarissimo (1986) features most of Manzanera's major non-Roxy works from several albums arranged into five musical suites and is great listening. I've not heard all of the the Manzanera LP Primitive Guitars (1982) but from what I have heard this would be a worthwhile find for anyone who appreciates his unique and accomplished guitar work.

801 LIVE

Philip P. Obbard <> (28.01.2000)

Hi George,

I visit your page frequently and enjoy it - great work!

FYI, there's a new reissue of 801 LIVE, with two bonus tracks (and, unfortunately, a fade-out on "Third Uncle"...) You can find details at Both Eno's "Fat Lady of Limbourg" and "Golden Hours" are now included.

Mattias Lundberg <> (15.02.2002)

I prefer this to the studio album. I always find that bands with a more or less crappy studio sound can get away with live albums, especially in the good old days, when a live sound was distinctively different from the sophisticated studio efforts. The 'Baby's on fire' version is not as good as I had expected it to be, and I still don't think it does justice to the song (perhaps this is an indication to what extent the studio version relies on Frippy sounds). Simon Phillips' drumming is, as always, incredibly impressive, and innovative as well. I mean who played double bass drums like that in 1976 !? Cool version of 'Tomorrow never knows', this kind of noise what probably what the Beatles would have loved, had it only been possible in 1966. It's a great album and I recommend it to every lover of Roxy, Eno, Manzanera or good music in general.

Ron Dagwell <> (27.08.2002)

"Rongwrong" is taken from Quiet Sun's LP Mainstream. Quiet Sun was another Eno/Manzanera/MacCormick project, originally formed in 1970. Manzanera left in 1971 to join Roxy Music. Manzanera reformed the group while working on Diamond Head. This album was recorded in London in January, 1975 and released on Island Records (later EG).

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