Dave Amitri on For Your Pleasure
I was reminded recently that I was going to write about Roxy Music’s second album For Your Pleasure Having written about their eponymous first album in April last year . I got side-tracked by solo McCartney and never got back to Roxy Music despite listening to For Your Pleasure a lot. So here we are.
I re-read the Roxy Music review and it appears I was really very excited by the album, even for me. It remains a remarkable album that I return to often. For Your Pleasure had its work cut out to match it so let’s find out if there is something in it or if it’s just a remake / remodel with a bitters end. (Enough now Dave, get on with it).
It opens with Do The Strand which is a hell of a start. It must have influenced Sparks and absolutely maintains the standard set by the first album. It’s a romp of a song with Ferry’s warble spitting out some surreal lyrics while competing with an angry sax and manic keyboards for top billing.
There’s a new sensation
A fabulous creation
A danceable solution
To teenage revolution.
DO. THE. STRAND.
Yes Bryan, yes I will.
On Beauty Queen Ferry turns his vibrato up to 12 on what is a really lovely yet sad song of love lost. Poor Valerie, I’m sure someone will fill me in on who Valerie is. It’s a precursor to Ferry’s 80s crooning glory yet absolutely 1973 Roxy Music. Beautiful, makes my starry eyes shiver
From the opening few notes of Strictly Confidential one thought overtook every other. Mark Hollis MUST have heard this. The way it completely ignores traditional song structure, the way the vocal does one thing while the music does another, the slow burn, the crescendo it’s classic late Talk Talk It’s an astonishing song for 1973 lyrically documenting the last moments of life in among all this wonderful musical chaos that somehow provides the perfect accompaniment. What a song it is.
The spell it is breaking
There is no light here
Is there no key
Editions Of You gives me the opportunity to give the band the kudos they deserve. This is more of a straight up rock n roll number if Roxy Music could ever do a straight up rock n roll number. It’s relentless, Ferry being Ferry and describing a fight with himself about a life in the country with badgers vs a night out with the boys. We’ve all been there. The band though, my god the band. The Blockheads on speed while Eno does whatever the fuck Eno does with a 1973 keyboard. Bowie was years behind this stuff. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
In Every Dream Home A Heartache then. It’s a song that starts like a flick through House and Garden before descending into a lonely readers letter in Men Only. It’s another song that has that late Talk Talk feel even though I don’t think Mark Hollis tackled this particular subject matter. The vacuity of grand living tempered by a fetish for a plastic partner. Has anyone else ever written a love song for their blow up doll and managed such emotion? It’s ridiculous and wonderful and strange and hypnotic and completely unique. The Hendrix Experience style freak out outro is pretty special too. And yep. They go there.
I blew up your body
But you blew my mind
The Bogus Man is a strange song with a groove straight from Queens Of The Stone Age while forcing my mind to start singing Nutbush City Limits . Ferry veers from an almost soprano vibrato to a hoarse whisper. The band again steal the show with all that relentless groove, whataboutery and invention. A nearly 10 minute song of paranoia and terror draws you in like a Grimm Fairytale. He’s tired but he’ll get to you and show you lots of fun
Grey Lagoons has become an instant classic for me. All the parts of what have moved Roxy Music from nowhere up into a special place for me contained in 4 minutes. Ferry’s vocal is perfect, the band flies off in a different direction from where Ferry is so he joins in with some harmonica before the band go off on one like some roadhouse quartet. Then Ferry returns dropping into the croon again creating a truly exquisite moment of contrast. It’s glorious. Heaven knows what others I might bring to you
It’s with real sadness we arrive at the title track For Your Pleasure only 8 songs. So, my first minor gripe here. It’s a poor choice for the closing track. I think going out on a high is the way and while this has its moments it’s by some distance the weakest track on the album which is a real shame after the heights set before. It has all the parts I’ve described above but with the magic dust that they all manage to add everywhere else missing somehow. Although to be honest even I struggle with some of the later Talk Talk I’ve already referenced. It’s like one of those ambient Hollis tunes that only really click when you’ve listened a hundred times. For Your Pleasure in our present state part false part true like anything seems to sum it up about right.
Overall, the album keeps up with the first album. The two together are pretty much perfect and mean Roxy Music are no longer fixed in my mind as that bloke in a suit singing songs my dad likes from my 80s exposure. They are now firmly fixed as a remarkable, ground breaking band that for me out Bowie Bowie in their consistency, quality, listenability and sheer musicality. Nothing grates here. Talk Talk were the band I heard most that I think have taken influence but clearly others have, most of whom I referenced in my Bowie odyssey, you know who I mean. My Roxy Music journey continues and I’ll try not to leave it a year before I get to Stranded
In summary I’ve heard for long enough how great Roxy Music are, taking time to listen to these first two albums has more than confirmed it. The standard of musicianship even to someone as cloth eared as me is staggering. Ferry’s lyrics are way better than I imagined. His voice is smooth and edgeless. Eno is someone I need to find out more about. I just didn’t know those sounds were possible in 1973. Yes, they’re being very clever and yes, they know damn well how clever they are but you know they are absolutely doing it for your pleasure.