INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Los Angeles Times DECEMBER 17, 1972 - by Terry Atkinson
A FINE MADNESS TO ENGLAND'S ROXY MUSIC
Intellectual or art-rock bands, especially those so doggedly cerebral as to count John Cage as strong an influence as Chuck Berry, have usually proved to be either interesting but essentially unsatisfying (i.e. The United States of America), or simply excruciating (i.e. the co-efforts of Mr. and Mrs. John Lennon). It is the rare brainy performer who can vie successfully with the good old, more-or-less illiterate brand of rock 'n' roll. Among the exceptions: Yes, David Bowie, Curved Air and Pink Floyd. To that small list of successes, we can now add Roxy Music, a new English band that has been filling music halls with delirious fans in Britain, that counts David Bowie and Elton John among its admirers, and that has a superb first album.
Much of the credit for Roxy Music's first album must go to Bryan Ferry, who composed all the songs, and Eno, who reworks the sound of the other musicians' instruments and operates the synthesizer. Ferry's songs are offbeat and experimental in the extreme, but they're infused with a fine, contagious madness. Some of the widely varying cuts, such as the wild Virginia Plain and the beautiful If There Is Something, are instant classics.
The music is delightfully unorthodox, evoking past styles (of the 1930s and 1950s), inventing new ones, shifting unexpectedly in tempo, churning out rock, then producing the most delicate effects, throwing in film references, displaying a use of dynamics, stereo and - summarily - of sound that is far beyond the results of other current bands.
Ferry is also the lead singer and his voice adapts wonderfully to the very different needs of each song. He's a rollicking robot on Virginia Plain, a 1950s crooner on Would You Believe?, a Valentino on Bitters End. Eno, meanwhile, does wonders with the sound of the band: Andrew Mackay on saxophone, Phil Manzanera on guitar, Paul Thompson on drums and Graham Simpson on bass (he's since been replaced by Rik Kenton).
You would have to search high and far for a better debut album this year. Roxy Music is one of the musical pleasures we have to look forward to in the next decade.