In a time where originality in rock music was (and still is) a difficult plane to ascend to, Roxy Music found a way to be different than all the rest. From the band's formation in 1971, on through to their final, and well-received album, Avalon in 1982, Roxy Music set difficult standards to achieve, so much so that few have tried (Spandau Ballet, Ultravox! come to mind), and none succeeded.
Bryan Ferry, the vocalist and predominant songwriter of the band, along with the music created by Andy Mackay (Sax), Phil Manzanera (Guitars), Graham Simpson (Bass), Paul Thompson (Drums), and, for a time, Brian Eno, and Eddie Jobson (and others) were heavily influenced by art styles. With the release of the band's first album, the eponymously titled debut in 1972, the intoxicating blend of rock, jazz, balladry, and art school love that would easily identify Roxy Music was in swing. And for the next ten years, Roxy Music held the rapt attention of fans with their enduring music.
As with all bands, the direction of Roxy Music would change from album to album. You can bet that the music heard on For Your Pleasure (1973) was a more vibrant collection of songs than the first album. From the opener, “Do the Strand,” along with “Editions of You”, the band was more confident in what they wanted to do.
Stranded, released in the same year as For Your Pleasure (barely seven months later) and with its titillating cover art, carried the sense of its predecessor with songs like “Mother of Pearl,” “Street Life,” but with hints of a coming change. That change would be heard in the next two albums.
Country Life (1974), and Siren (1975) both with sexy cover art, were filled with solid songs start to finish. Siren, however, would open larger doors for the band with its high-charting single, “Love Is the Drug.” The band would take a break after the successful Siren.
With a long, four-year departure from recording, the band returned with a strong effort, Manifesto, that found Roxy Music with an updated sound in tune with the time for which it was recorded. “Dance Away,” “Trash,” “Angel Eyes,” “Ain't That So,” and “Spin Me Round” surround an album quite sure of itself.
Flesh + Blood (1980), the forerunner to Avalon, is filled, top to bottom, with excellent songs. Opening with the cover of Wilson Pickett's “In the Midnight Hour,” and filling the album with gems that include “Oh Yeah,” “Same Old Scene,” “Over You,” and the cover of The Byrds' “Eight Miles High,” Flesh + Blood still holds listeners in thrall.
The band finished with Avalon, an album that is considered by many as their unchallenged masterpiece. It contained the charting hit, “More Than This,” and a supporting collection of nine other stunning tunes. Surprisingly, the evolution of the music from Roxy Music indicated a sure-footed band. Sadly, that would not be the way it would play out. Over their short span of a decade, there would be disagreements between band-mates over direction, resulting in departures (Eno left after such a concern with Bryan Ferry), music style changes, and disbandings. Roxy Music would reform for tours, and other brief reunions, but nothing else would ever come out of it musically.
Recently, EMI Recordings celebrated the unique influence and greatness of Roxy Music by remastering and assembling their entire studio output collecting them into a limited edition box. The recordings heard on these 2012 remasters are excellent. With current technology, it seems as if the beauty of the songs are being drawn out further than ever thought possible. Even more exciting, are the additional two CDs of collected material that include remixes, B-sides, and rare selections, some never before released on CD. The sleeves replicate the cover art of the original albums.
Right now, you can win a copy of this box set by posting in the Comments section. Post something interesting about Roxy Music. Make me feel like you want this box! The contest is open to US readers only (sorry) and closes at midnight (EDT) on September 11. A winner will be chosen at random and notified by email, so please leave us a valid email address. We will communicate further details to the winner via private email (please DO NOT leave other personal info, like your mailing address, in the comments space — such information will be deleted).
Roxy Music left behind a legacy that is rock solid. This box set delivers the goods in the freshness of the music, largely revitalized by their remastering. Personally, if music that I love continues to become more revelatory, I'm definitely in for the ride.
“Nothing Lasts Forever...”