Monday, 5 November 2007
Roxy Music - Roxy Music
The album from another world
Where in the name of Robert E Lee did Roxy Music come from? They seem to have appeared fully formed like highly intelligent Sci-Fi pop art aliens from some fantastic forbidden planet.
There's no clumsy stumbling through two or three albums finding and refining the Roxy sound. No roots in the blues boom or evidence of a hangover from the Hippy period. In fact, the only minor concession they make to life before Roxy Music are soundtrack's and cinematic's. It’s like the sixties never happened and they’ve arrived on earth crooning, cranking, squeaking, and bleeping all impeccably captured by Peter Sinfield.(how did he get that fantastic drum sound)
The champagne fizz of ‘Remake/Remodel’ sets out the Roxy stall in one blistering bundle, with each player taking a solo at the coda. ‘Ladytron’ is a rocket race with Eno, Mackay and Manzenara revving their instruments to be first past the post, and ‘If There Is Something’ captures some of the most desperate vocals ever heard on the section;
“I would put roses round our door
Sit in the garden
Growing potatoes by the score”
But on Side 2 it gets even deeper and darker with 'The Bob (medley)',and 'Chance Meeting' - inspired by 'Brief Encounter', but actually sounds like something from 'Nightmares In A Damaged Brain'.Each track is it’s own unique sketch and swatch of other worldliness, all enhanced by each player's part and grounded by Paul Thompson's (one of the most under rated drummers) earthy thudding style.
Read any Punk biography and Roxy Music are right there alongside Bowie, T. Rex, Iggy and the Velvets as an influence (The first nightclub setup for Punks was called The Roxy), and future Pistols collaborators Chris Spedding and Chris Thomas were both involved in later Roxy Music recordings. But this influence, and the evolution of the Roxy sound went much further than Punk. Chic’s 'high society' look was modeled on Roxy template. David sylvian and Duran Duran all borrowed from the bank of Bryan Ferry,(Ferry being one of the few who kept his cred' rating intact throughout the 80s). And then there's Eno - Ambient Music, Bowies Berlin trilogy, Talking Heads, 'My Life In The Bush of Ghosts'. All these threads can be traced back to the Roxy Music's debut album.
Which still sounds as remote, futuristic and alien today as it did when I first heard it 25 years ago – so what must have it sounded like when these space invaders first landed in 1972.
Remake/Remodel - Beat Club
Ladytron - Old Grey Whistle Test
Viva Roxy Music Site