Sounds JUNE 8, 1974 - by Martin Hayman


Martin Hayman talks to the ever-smiling Bryan Ferry.

"Time to give all musicians a good larruping". Thus speaks our tantrum-prone boy-genius as he hews some more words from the tortured interstices of his brain. The phrase comes copyright of Mr Pete Ersking who is at least as entertaining in conversation as the ostensible subject of this piece, namely Bryan Ferry, doyen of Roxy Music, poser and leader of "rock band" Roxy Music who are, at the moment of recording these impressions, located at the Sheraton Inn in Northampton, Pennsylvania, and that's about the most famous the place is ever going to get in this book.

But returning to out muttons, why should we not return a few of the insults, veiled and otherwise, which we are prone to receive in these less-than-halcyon-days [for the music squeeze] at the horny hands of self styled musicians.

Mr Ferry is no more of a musician than, say... Eno? However he plays piano in an unusual and idiosyncratic style and sings a bit and composes extraordinarily excellent songs but this in no way excuses his quaint assertion that "Anyway you can never trust a journalist" [no question mark. Just a statement of fact. Try again Bryan]. So I was formulating a suitably malicious opening to describe how unawares we had caught Mr Ferry when we rang him at his hotel: you know, stuff about being held disagreeably at bay after successfully avoiding traps, only to find that they'd sent the terrier in...

This sort of thing must be held as journalistically reprehensible and out of place as wearing tweeds at Ascot. All right, he is a musician then, but his hands ain't horny even if he's a son of toil.

Hello Bryan. How's it going? "We've done the first two nights and they've both been monstrous. We were incredibly surprised by the reaction - the audience were lighting matches up at the end." [This last a sign of approval in the US. It is dangerous and the authorities are doing their level best to stamp it out. Ha!]. "They seem to know about the band now; maybe it will be terrible tomorrow but at least the last two nights were fantastic. They must have heard the albums because they now recognise each song when I introduce it."

This is no mammoth trek in the mould of Sabbath et al. For I discovered, to my astonishment, that Roxy are doing no more than six concert appearances, so this stint could hardly even be described as a tour. It's more a quick sounding-out of American public opinion on Roxy Music, for as all fans of the band will know, they bombed rather badly last time around, miscast as they were on a bill with Jethro Tull. It's taken them two years at least to get back the necessary confidence to go there again - and that's after substantial continental renown.

Roxy are using roughly the same set as in England with the addition of If There Is Something which is being used as an instrumental display piece. "The kids are all really raving," Ferry continued in his passable facsimile of amazement. "They are all saying that we are the best thing to have hit their town for... a long time. It looks very good."

Halls are around two to three thousand seaters, not big by US standards but at least they are full and full with Roxy enthusiasts, not by Jethro Tull fans: "At least the people are coming to see us because they are our concerts and not somebody else's, and that makes all the difference." What about The 'In' Crowd which seems to be carrying the banner in the absence of the Mr Ferry? Like all the other of Ferry's favourite things it dates back to younger days when [and this is the great Roxy revelation for the week] Bryan was the DJ at Newcastle's Club A Go Go. He describes the song as having "a great lyric and a nice tune."

Perhaps the reason for Roxy's closeness is that they too are in 'in' crowd all on their own... "We've been having lots and lots of fun among ourselves, I suppose. There've been lots and lots of people coming round to see us." Young ladies? "Very much a mixed crowd, very nice people."

What sort of mixed people? "Obviously, they're mostly the sort of people who like the other English bands - yes, the David Bowie crowd up to a point. They are easier to compare to our music than say a straightforward boogie band like The Allman Brothers. And you'll never find anyone who likes just the one band."

Atlantic, the group's new record company, have already put out Stranded and Bryan's solo album is soon to follow. The controversial Hard Rain single is already out and to my surprise Bryan reports that the Americans are not really having the same sort of ethical crisis that the critics and the punters alike went through when it was first launched upon the unsuspecting British market. Oh, a very snazzy pic of Bryan on the cover of The 'In' Crowd: it was taken in Moustique in the Caribbean, where Bryan recently spent a little holiday [one of the advantages of the rock business is to travel places and see the world]. "The sun-tan is real I assure you". The smile too I don't doubt.