I still vividly remember hearing Roxy Music’s debut album for the first time – it sounded so completely different and futuristic, almost as though it had been beamed down from another planet. That was the precursor to many years of great music from the band and from Bryan Ferry as a solo artist, and as such, I was greatly looking forward to perusing this book, which collects all his lyrics from that iconic 1972 debut through to his most recent album of original material, 2014’s Avonmore. As with all books of this type, it’s almost impossible to disconnect the lyrics from the original music that you hear incessantly playing along in your head as you read. I think Ferry is something of an underrated lyricist, and especially on the early Roxy albums they were very much part of the overall sound, a component in a wonderfully inventive machine. However, closer listening revealed to my then teenage ears a pot pourri of day to day experiences and fantastical invention, a blend, you might say, of the real and the make believe. One thing this excellent collection has done is to encourage me to sit down and relisten to the whole back catalogue in conjunction with dipping in and out of the book – the first two Roxy albums still sound so groundbreaking and innovative almost fifty years down the line with their kaleidoscopic mix of sounds, and I also love their final two albums, although it was in some ways almost a different band with a different sound and emphasis by then. I can never quite decide which is their masterpiece, For Your Pleasure or Avalon; perhaps both are in their own unique ways. Of the solo albums (excluding the covers sets of course as they are outside the scope of this book), I’m a huge fan of the Boys and Girls album. This embodies peak Ferry for me with it’s evocative languid and longing lyrics capturing the sound of shattered illusions, unfulfilled romances and broken dreams. A shout out too though for the oft overlooked The Bride Stripped Bare set from 1978, which really doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. This is a super book, which begins with an insightful introduction by the author and a thoughtful lengthy essay by James Truman – it’s a volume that every self respecting fan should have in their collection sitting alongside the music.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The seventeen albums covered here – a fantastic back catalogue, and the run of Roxy albums in particular must be one of the best and most consistent of any band out there.
One thing you’ve learned
Now if only they would crack on with those superdeluxe reissues I’d be a happy man, although sadly there seems to be no great interest or urgency in doing so as far as one can tell.