Pick of the Week
“You are Like a Hurricane” by Roxy Music (1983)
I thought, and I still do think that Bryan Ferry is a bit of an odd cat. In fact when I first heard Roxy Music I thought it was odd. It does grow on you though. I remember chillin’ to “Avalon” with the T-bar off on my ’82 Capri. Ahhh...how times have changed.
The four track EP’ “The High Road” recorded in 1982 in Glasgow was released in 1983 and I remember playing it all summer that year. It was one of those albums I made any friend that came over listen to. The haunting “Jealous Guy” (John Lennon) and “Like a Hurricane” (Neil Young) were brilliantly interpreted by Ferry who was on the brink of breaking up Roxy Music for the second time. None of the recordings from this album have ever been released on CD to this day. Terrible shame really.
He would continue to cover others material with great success. (See his recent album ‘Dylanesque’ for example.)
This band was a bit elusive in North America. If you knew about them you were in a bit of a minority.
In 1971 Bryan Ferry had lost his job teaching ceramics at an all-girl’s school for having ‘record listening’ sessions. Personally I see no harm in that, and in fact would clearly encourage it, but maybe there was more to that. Anyway, the result was that he was unemployed.
Bryan had started his own band and was auditioned for the lead singer for “King Crimson” because Greg Lake had left (a la Emerson Lake and Palmer1). He was auditioned by Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield. They didn’t think his voice would work for Crimson but supported him in getting a record deal wtih his band Roxy Music2
Phil Manzenara was no slouch either.......born of a Columbian mother and English father he traveled all over the world when he was younger by age six was playing his mothers Spanish guitar. By eight he had gone electric. He started mixing Latin-American sounds with rock and roll.
A so-called sub-genre of rock called “Art rock” (sometimes called “Progressive rock”) was coming on strong in the U.K. in 1971 when Phil and about 20 other guys auditioned for the avant-garde, newly formed band “Roxy Music”. Of course there were strange things going on in the U.K. – Pink Floyd was experimenting with all kinds of things, uhum – musical and visual...right...
Anyway, Phil lost out on the audition to the more experienced David O’List who later quit the band after an altercation with the drummer Paul Thompson. Phil who had secretly learned all the band’s songs was asked to stand in as guitarist. They were blown away and the band decided to go with Phil. Good call. Phil would go on to co-write much of the Roxy material.
In 1972 Phil’s band mates were Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, Paul Thompson, Andy Mackay and Graham Simpson.
Melody Maker journalist Richard Williams helped Roxy Music out by becoming an early fan after receiving a 1971 demo tape. 1972’s first eponymous album received strong reviews and went to number ten on the U.K. charts.
Roxy Music carefully crafted everything about their band: the clothes they wore, their stage sets and presences, even the cover art on the albums, posters and billboards. They carefully branded a style.
The theatrical elements of Roxy Music influenced KateBush, Laurie Anderson, Lena Lovich, Peter Gabriel and many others. Was “Devo” (Whip It) not art rock?
If you don’t really know Roxy Music might I suggest you take a listen to:
1. Jealous Guy (from the album “The High Road” if you can find it).
2. Love is the Drug
3. My Only Love
4. Virginia Plain
5. The Space Between
6. Like a Hurricane (again, “The High Road”)
7. A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall
8. Dance Away
9. Mother of Pearl
10. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
If you can afford it the (so called) complete studio recordings 1972-1982 are available in box set
1. Just for clarity, not the ‘addicted to love’ Robert Palmer, Bill.
2. Ferry was going to call it ‘Roxy’ but found out an American band went by that name and added ‘Music’.