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.

Recommended Viewing
Remake/Remodel - Beat Club
Ladytron - Old Grey Whistle Test

Recommended Reading
Viva Roxy Music Site
Roxyrama Site


iamnotthebeatles said...

You know when you suddenly realise you have a massive gap in your musical knowledge. This is how it is for me : as Roxy Music are a pretty new discovery for me.

I only own the 'best of' malarkey bought pretty recently - so away from those singles, is there a good album to start with. This one ?

Hope all is good with you,

Ian TB

marmiteboy said...

I'm a bit like Ian when it comes to Roxy. I remember playing The Strand at Paul Tunkins pre-pre-pre-Blow Up do's in Westcliff and I know the 'famous' singles like Virgina Plain and Love Is The Drug but I don't know much more than that other than a lot of the 76 punk bands were really into them and hgely influenced by them.

I think a lot of people associate Roxy with those dreadful sugary 80's tracks like Avalon. There legacy needs to be properly advertised I think.

Planet Mondo said...

Thanks for your comments -

The singles collections are a great starting point - but it's definitely worth checking out the seventies albums (you can normally get them in the sales all flawlessly remastered for fiver). They've all got so much to offer, and are edgier and darker than anything of Roxy's contemporaries were offering at the time. The first and second albums are must haves and Siren is cracker all the tracks flowing and mixing into each other - Genius.

Eno's favourite is Stranded - the first one without him!

Also worth checking out the Old Grey Whistle test DVD's there's some great comments about Roxy from Roddy Frame and Edwyn Collins

Axe Victim said...

I love Roxy and always have. I was one of those kids in the Green army shirt, knitted tie, tight denim jeans and deck pumps. What a knob! But it was a great time digging their vibe. When it all went sugar coated in the 80's and I knew I wasn't going to get a super model girlfreind, I dropped out, but then again I dropped out of most of the modern music in the 80's.

Planet Mondo said...

AV - agree with your comments, Roxy do go a bit wishy washy in the 80's but all the 70's albums are must have's. I'd highly recommend Live At The Apollo from 2002 (about a fiver for the DVD)Chris Spedding is in the line up and Phil M has his red F/bird on the go and they tear it up with all the hits. Including faithful reproductions of Eno's squeaks and bleeps

Staci Layne Wilson said...

what instrument is being played during and around the lyrics you mentioned from if there is something? i can't place it! thanks in advance...