The first time I heard Roxy Music, I was at school camp. I’d have been about eleven and ‘Pyjamarama’ came on someone’s radio. I was blown away.
Looking back now, forty-plus years later, listening to one of those ‘alternative/rare/rejected compilations, they really were brilliant, weren’t they?
For me though, there’s a hole in the middle of Roxy Music like one of those live recordings where the microphones were set too far apart. An ugly, ragged dent in an otherwise unblemished career.
First two LPs: perfect. Then, after Ferry managed to drive Eno out of the band in the war-of-the-Brians, that dead zone: ‘Country life’ and ‘Stranded’. A few good tracks scattered amongst these albums, but by then, without Eno, Roxy were, at best, a Sinatra wannabe backed by some arties – and with very few ideas.
The band rallied with ‘Siren’ and followed that up with ‘Viva’, most of which comes from the Eno period, anyway. Their roots were showing. And they gave up.
Unlike Eno or Mananera, Ferry’s solo work went from dreadful through ludicrous to dadaist. Competitions at Virgin stores for staff members to meet OMG! Bryan Ferry! Photocopied lists of dos and don’ts for the lucky staff who did meet him (no make-up, no jewelery, no skin, hair or sexual organs, etc)
That early nineties’ performance on Jools Holland’s freakshow, (“and now, here’s a blind-drunk Bryan Ferry impersonator. What are you going to do for us tonight?” “Tonight, with god’s help, I’m going to stay on this piano stool, Jools.” “Bloody hell! Upright, Bri?” “We’ll see, shall we, Jools?”
Apparently Roxy reformed in 1979 for some reason. I blame Thatcher myself. And that turgid self-parody they’d become? ‘Angel eyes’, ‘More than this’, ‘Avalon’… Soporific songs to soundtrack holding hands with someone who doesn’t matter. Valium for the ears. Can this really be the same band who birthed “Both ends burning’?
I read in the Eno autobiography, ‘On some faraway beach’, that the original Roxy Music line-up have been trying to make another LP. Sessions have ended in nothing or worse.
It’s almost as if they had their time, spent it and are now gone.

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