Roxy Music - Where did THAT come from?

When the first Roxy Music LP landed in 1972 we just couldn't believe it. Where had this strange music come from? It sounded like nothing we had heard before. It wasn't blues and it wasn't jazz. It wasn't really guitar music either (despite Phil Manzanera's drool-worthy red Gibson Firebird pictured on the inside gatefold of the second Roxy LP), the strange electronic passages were equally prominent and took the music somewhere entirely new. Then there was the singer. With his affected delivery and strange pronunciation it seemed like he was taking the piss at times, but the vocals were just as compelling as the music.

Roxy Music appeared smack in the middle of prog rock and the first stirrings of the reggae boom, but it sounded like neither. The pictures inside the LP sleeve showed what looked like a bunch of space-age teddy boys, but it wasn't rock & roll, either, at least not as we knew it. And how about those early Roxy sleeves! They were both sleazy and classy at the same time and a million miles away from the default Roger Dean prog album cover art of the time.

The debut Roxy Music LP was the first (and almost the only) time I can recall a band arriving without precedent. The music didn't betray its roots or its influences in any way I could decipher. Of course this startling originality couldn't last. The first two Roxy albums were simply great, but after Eno's departure it wasn't the same and the band began a fairly rapid slide into self-parody (OOAA).

So what I'm asking in this rather convoluted way is: when was the last time you heard something totally new and fresh with no hint of where it came from?

Unless you just want to talk about Roxy Music, that is.

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Someone said that Roxy were the first 70s band/act. All the others had roots in the 60s. Which is true - at least I can't think of any other early 70s act that didn't have a foot in the 60s.

As far as 'new' goes, I don't think anyone can take pop/rock to a new place anymore. It's all been done without going to some weird place that no-one cares about.

About Roxy being the first 70s band.

I wrote the above piece off the top of my head without listening to any of the music, so today I went back and rectified that.

Yes, that first album is just as odd as I remembered, but I'd forgotten about the Day Tripper riff quoted in Re-Make/Re-Model.

What do you make of that? A conscious 60s nod, or a lazy bit of guitar playing?

The Beatles didn't own it, and it's possible they didn't create it out of nothing. Maybe it's neither a conscious reference, or a lazy copy; maybe it just came from the same place.

the Day Tripper riff is also quoted on The Beano Album and Hendrix would often quote the I Feel Fine riff in live versions of Hey Joe, so I like to think it was musical doff of the cap.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say the Beatles didn't own that riff, either. Perhaps you can't copyright a riff, but even so...

I'm not sure what I meant either.

They were acknowledging the past and remodelling it. The song is actually a car song. The chorus is the registration plate number. That sequence is a stereotypical introduction to the band; drum solo, bass playing Day Tripper (another car song), freaky synth, parping sax in the old rock & roll style, guitar, piano & back to drums.

They knew what they were doing. They were making rock& roll space-age but rock & roll was still at the heart of it.

By the way, the lyric is a typical Ferry construct he continues to use today. There is, of course, a girl. The girl drives the car but is indirectly referred to throughout. As always with Ferry, the girl is there but not quite there. Love is out of reach or he is too timid to commit.

I think he's got it!

Re the riff.

Can anyone challenge the 'first 70s' band' crown? I can't even think think of a solo act that can trump Roxy on this.

And I mean T.Rex not Tyrannosaurus Rex or Marc Bolan. Especially the singles. Sure, the music is chuggy, hooky sub-Chuck Berry but the sound is tremendous and was startling for the early seventies. The guitar and bass sound meaty and full of depth (is that English?) but, it's the Visconti string quartet and Flo & Eddie's shrieking backing vocals that really crank up the innovation. Suddenly, pixie pop songs had turned malevolent & spine-chilling!

Ride A White Swan was released in early 1970. Right up to the last single produced by Visconti, Truck On (Tyke), every one was jaw-droppingly, eye-spinningly amazing! My personal top five are 21st Century Boy, Get It On, Metal Guru, Children Of The Revolution & The Groover.

I'm a bit ambivalent about his music. He undoubtedly looked fabulous - better than any rock star since Hendrix, and few musicians have looked better since, but musically I think it was a triumph of style over substance and I fear his records haven't aged well.

I bought all the Tyrannosaurus Rex and T.Rex albums on release up to The Slider which, funnily enough, was 1972, the year Roxy Music arrived. The singles hold up well enough, but I don't think there was enough craft in the albums compared to Bowie, or those other 70s icons ELO and 10cc.

I carefully tip-toed around the albums. Electric Warrior has aged remarkably well. In fact, all the Visconti produced T.Rex albums sound good today but the songwriting quality is patchy to say the least.

the time when Bolan went electric and shortened the name to T.Rex. There was a story in Melody Maker about how Marc had spent the weekend at Eric Clapton's country pile receiving a crash course in how to play blues rock guitar.

I'm not sure if the story has any credence, but Marc's electric guitar playing was always a little, shall we say, naïve for my taste.

Funnily enough I thought it was the possibly the most conventional rock song on the album, certainly in terms of the guitar lines.

Ferry loves Rock & Roll but, deep inside, he yearns to be Cole Porter. The other characters in the band were never going to let him get away with romantic whimsy all the time. They, and it was all of them not just Eno, spiced things up in a sparkling, startling fashion. That's the alchemy that is Roxy Music. Quite different to Ferry solo.

Does anyone understand The Bob (Medley)? It still baffles me even forty years later.

I dreamed last night about your face
Your star shone all night
Over the moon it shone brighter
Star shining so bright

You were so pure not for this world
So gentle and light
How could I hear their stories
They told me not right?

Too many times beautiful
Too many times sad
Too many times wonderful
Too bad

But when the party was over
And all was quiet and still
We walked together in the moonlight
And looked down over the calm lake
Hand in hand, the stars in our eyes

So in my dream you still loved me
Gave time reason last night
But this was only life's story
Made simple that's right

See how it's all a dream in the end, so the girl is there but love is just out of reach or lost ('in my dream you still loved me' is telling)? The music sounds like a war-zone. And Bob isn't even mentioned, Burt, let alone (Medley), whoever that is! I suppose it is a bizarre mixture of things, just like real dreams are.

And so does he.

I still don't know where they came from

..wasn't it? :-)

spiritual vortex I think

...the 'Going forward' thread, obviously.

For those who first came to them 2 or 3 albums in, I can see that their influences would be very hard to spot, they had travelled so far so quickly, after all. The first album still clearly shows their folky roots, however.

I discovered the ISB in mid 1967 via their second LP The 5,000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion, one of only two records I've ever bought on the strength of the cover alone with no knowledge of the music within (the other being Zappa's debut Freak Out).

Not long after that that I saw the ISB live. They were still just a duo at that stage (early 1968) and had what appeared to be a hundred weird and strangely-named instruments on stage which they alternated between constantly.

Their ragamuffin hippy chic looked perfect, but the only musical clues I could glean from this strange music were the obvious Dylan influences in the vocal delivery of both Heron and Williamson. That was enough though, and thankfully the tunes on 5,000 Spirits... were strong enough to keep me interested.

45 years later and I'm still interested.

Here's that eye-watering cover of The 5,000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion from July 1967.

If so, post it on that thread too! Please?

... are great, full stop (or should that be is great?)

I was perhaps too young to appreciate them at the time, but I have retrospectively absorbed their oeuvre and don't agree with your view that it is all about those first two albums.

The smoothness increases as time passes but I think there is a still a lot of steel and oddness underneath. Eno had gone by the time of 'Song For Europe' 'Mother Of Pearl' and 'The Thrill Of It All' which are some of the best records ever made. I have said before about seeing a snip of Roxy doing "All I Want Is You" and being aware that they could BATTER you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgSzq5vZzIU

A real mean streak as well as - unquestionably - dilettantism. & Some of Ferry's late seventies solo stuff is still very dear to my heart. If he could stop agonising in the studio and crank out more than a long list of greatest hits he would get more love I think.

that song - it's a near perfect single. It is a shame that perfectionism / self-doubt seems to have hampered Ferry a great deal. Have you heard his magnificent version of Positively 4th Street.

I think most of the 'Dylanesque' album is rather brilliant, particularly this and his take on that Adele song. :-)

(Crikey, I've just agreed with ianess - I need a lie down!) ;-) )

the dvd can be had rather cheaply

His cover versions can also be a bit odd but I do love him. He, Bowie and Robert Palmer all seem to have used cover versions to get themselves underway in the studio, and there always seem to be extra tracks or whole albums made up from them

I'd dismissed that album out of hand when it was released. More fool me. A fiver? Done.

that Eno agrees with you: I remember him saying his favourite Roxy album is the one after he left.

...a fabulous debut LP. Can't understand why it hasn't had the Deluxe treatment yet (extra disc of BBC stuff, etc).

... still sounds weird today, let alone in 1972, and I remember right into the late-80's, every band's stated influences were "Bowie, Roxy, Velvets..."

An oft-repeated John Peel quote was that one main reason he loved The Smiths was because he couldn't tell from their music what they listened to themselves, which I think is probably right, though of course they weren't "out there" in the same way as Roxy.

Surely, Orange Juice were pretty much the blueprint for The Smiths - jangly guitar, fey whimsical lyrics, funk-inflected rhythm section

COULD be fey/whimsical but usually weren't - and the guitar was ferocious - but there maybe is something to that. But my suggested predecessor would be Echo - truly mighty pop power and very unexpected lyrical concerns. The Smiths themselves would have said girl pop bands of the 60s - and they meant it

I saw them live in '72 and I thought they were appalling. I thought they couldn't play - not only for toffee, but for any sugar-based snack food. Or tuppence. Me and my mates were into waist-length hair and greatcoats at the time, and music that expressed our complex outsiderness (anything girls hated, basically). We just did not know what to make of Roxy Music. Hype was a word we used a lot - they were hype, a music business scam. A bunch of talentless tarted-up art-school tossers on the make, trying to fool the kids out of their pocket money. We weren't fooled, oh no, not us.

It took years, maybe a decade, for me to realise what an awful ass I'd been, at which point I scarfed up everything they'd recorded and pretended I'd always liked them. It's always been those first two albums for me, although "pretty much" everything they recorded is worthwhile. (Could we do a poll on frequently-appearing phrases in the blog? I reckon "pretty much" would be pretty much the most popular.)

(I hope this thread has longer legs than your rather perfunctory Geoff Becks piece, Mojo - currently residing in the "where are they now" file ...)

the phrase "residing in the Where Are They Now? file". Two of those just today.

Should be fine, just as long as you don't start a rival weighty thread on Su Pollard or Mike & Bernie Winters, then I'll be in trouble.

Su Pollard, and Mike & Bernie Winters are pretty much residing in the "Where Are They Now" file.

We don't stand a chance! (You OK by the way Nigel?)

Two longish walks beside my favourite river in the lovely spring sunshine today.

I'm being released back into the wild (home to my hovel) on Tuesday.

Got a bouncy castle for a bonce. And did you know Bouncy Castle is the ancestral home of the Bouncaighs

1)Yes.

2)No. (And, if true, that's possibly my favourite fact ever, Forks!

As a crap joke 30 years ago and repeat it at every opportunity. But it still might be true, who knows

by The Associates still sounds like music from another planet to me.

how you say it

but "Sulk" is very different to anything before or since

The Smiths were almost as big a shock as Roxy were, but you could kind of see their influences, at least.

The first two albums were "game changers" but I like the next three albums more - Stranded, Country Life and Siren. The songs are better and they still retain their unique "roxyness".

I still listen to some of the post-Manifesto stuff but from that album on I think they lost some of the character that made them stand out.

And the live album, "Viva" is still an absolute corker too.

Pretty much.

Personally, when I first heard TMBG, it was as if someone had finally, finally created something contemporary that had a huge personal resonance for me. It was like a bolt of lightening. If you were in your mid-teens when the 80s became the 90s, you might have felt it too.

my treasured copies of Virginia Plain and Do The Strand. If my mates and I managed to find a party to gate-crash, we wanted to be sure there would be something worth listening to.

I've seen Ferry a couple of times in recent years (Mrs Fatdad is a great fan) and he always has a stupendous band with him and puts on a great show.

Few of us have actually answered your question.

Maybe be something like this chap:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ios0rpWCGno

or maybe Arvo Pärt

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-J8LNcZgTA

Not sure either fulfil the conditions of that wonderful Peel quote though.

I love the way the album starts, with what sounds like a party happening in another room. Then suddenly you've entered the inner sanctum. Simon Puxley's sleeve notes are a treat too. I like them both but I've always preferred the first album to For Your Pleasure, which stretched some of its ideas a bit thin, I thought. But there's no denying they had a unique sound and FYP is probably the more focused version of Ferry's initial vision for Roxy. The second phase, post Eno peaked with Country Life. What a hot band that was.

Other 'where did that come from' moments? For me, hearing 'Wood Beez' on the Anne Nightingale Sunday night show. Scritti Politti are probably my favourite 'band' of the last 30 years.

I saw them with Arlo Guthrie, Stone the Crows and Edgar Winter at the Crystal Palace Bowl Garden Party - in broad daylight.
We were treated to
Virginia plain
The Bob
Would You Believe
Ladytron
2HB
Sea Breezes
If There Is Something
ReMake/ReModel

I saw them again a month later at the Chatham Central Hall where, billed as Mr Roxy's Music they confused the hell out of a crowd more used to King Crimson.

They were mind bending !

Yes they drifted into funk - free disco, but Ferry is still a God.

I don't quite buy the Smiths as a comparison or an out of nowhere; possibly Television, or even XTC.

Love to hear about any other suggestions..

...at which the Mahavishnu Orchestra played? Or was it over two nights?

And through into the following week - one solo

I still believe that their first appearance on TOTP was the most startling I've ever seen. I was working (pre-Uni) as a barman in a pretty down to earth public bar and the reaction from the punters was not entirely approving. Magnificent single which has never become stale. 'For your Pleasure' is their masterpiece, IMO. I ran into Ferry at a club when some poll or other had placed FYP at number 38 in the top 100 albums of all time. I passed on this fascinating nugget of information and, with a sly smile, he murmured - 'only number 38. I'd have placed it higher.' I agreed. Slightly shy, but friendly man.

I've seen them three times. Once with Eno at Liverpool Stadium (a boxing ring). They looked fantastic, as did a number of the audience, but the sound quality was poor. I'd say it was a great noise. At that stage, I equated them with Bowie & Bolan in a holy trinity. Their look was certainly in keeping with glam.

Then, I saw them on the Siren tour, bigger stage. The backing singers were picked for their looks. The costumes were that silly military style but the sound & performance were much better. By that time, 10cc were their main competitors in my mind.

Finally, I saw them a few years ago in a specially constructed tent at Liverpool Albert Dock. They were utterly superb! The playing was magnificent. Phil's solo for Every Dream Home is the best guitar-display I've ever heard live. There was no way the Roxy of the seventies could compare.

I adored their first two albums but love Stranded most http://theafterword.co.uk/content/stranded-roxy-musics-crowning-glory

I also think Manifesto and Avalon are magnificent. Manifesto is especially under-rated. How I wish they had produced one last album but it seems that opportunity has been missed.

I remember a record shop in the Lanes, Brighton, going there specifically to listen to the 1st album. 70s streaming, I guess. There was a problem with my headphones in that there was a constant hum thru'out. I thought it intentional and said it was fab, albeit somewhat confused. Only later did I hear it properly. Side 1 is just absolutely the bees banana. "I could grow potatoes by the score....." You bet I could! Loved them ever since, up to the phase 2 (post Eno), 3 (Manifesto), and 4 (smoothie chops) Sadly Bryan Ferry felt he was better alone, and he isn't, wasn't and will never be. Sorry.

I've always thought Public Image Ltd occupied a pretty isolated spot. Of course, there's a hint of those other no-fixed aboders, Can, in there. A lot of German music of the late 60s and early 70s - Popol Vuh in particular - seems to spring from an entirely undiscovered source. I would align Roxy with that movement. We know that Eno became a big Cluster/Harmonia fan.

There was an excellent BBC documentary about these German bands and, as you point out, they had made a conscious decision to create their own type of music, not influenced by rock or blues and as a counterblast to their own sentimental, schlager music.

...that's what got me interested when I bought interesting looking vinyl albums in my teens. I don't remember what I expected from that sleeve of the first Roxy album (the name was vaguely familiar... – maybe from Moroccan radio playing "Dance Away"...) but when I listened to that LP it opened up whole new areas of music (and listening to unfamiliar sounds). The second side, starting with "The Bob (Medley)" is still among my favorite-sequenced album sides, a virtual journey into sound.

And while we're at it, why not look at some cover-shoot outtakes: http://chickswithdisks.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/alternative-roxy/

never seen those outtakes before.

Though whenever I see the Avalon one I shout "Ni!!"

Elements of that might have been familiar but I don't think anyone had done that degree of chopped-up dance overdubbing and sheer menace

I was going to say Kate Bush. But actually, there was quite a lot of odd pop music around in 76/7 that might have influenced her. Renaissance, Noosha Fox, lots of Biba divas. She was much better than them and a real star but not out of a clear blue sky. Though I think 'Hello Earth' and some of her later music really was from no identifiable source.

The stuff Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer did was completely unique and a real shock.

with 'Ghosts'. 'Movies' by Holger Czukay was one of the first to introduce that multiple overlaying.
However, 'I feel love' was a stunning release which, to my mind, was a complete game changer. It was completely otherworldly and fabulously hypnotic. Truly avant-garde.

Bargepole recalls thinking 'wow,where did that come from'. A great album that has really stood the test of time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCPEm_ID2Js

I'd missed their previous records, so Radio-Activity was my first exposure to Kraftwerk - the title track annoyed me yet intrigued me in equal measure - I didn't know why. I'd never heard anything like it before. The hissing and clanking synth's replicating some form of Teutonic factory covered in swirling steam and then that nagging little plinking riff followed by another hiss of steam being released and some morse code stuttering away. Then the disconnected voice "Radioactivity. It's in the air for you and me..."

Just all very very odd and disconcerting - I'd never heard anything like it and was subsequently utterly transfixed.

Also - from the "Wow, what was that?!!" files...

This blew my socks off when I first heard it...

The first TOTP appearance of Sparks certainly had tongues wagging in the nation's schoolyards the day after. I still think they are very unique and constantly go their own way.

First time I heard Wuthering Heights: definitely a WTF moment.

Was (Not Was) sound like nothing I'd heard before or have since.

Same goes for Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Massive Attack and Portishead's first albums.

Yeke Yeke by Mory Kante.

Nightclubbing by Grace Jones

The sky's ablaze with ladies legs. Freaked me out the first time I heard it, after a particularly unforgiving jazz woodbine. Loved them to bits, even when they had the temerity to 'go commercial' and sell shedloads of albums with funky dinosaur nonsense.

at the long gone Gino club here in Stockholm.

Even exchanged a few words with Sweetpea who was surrounded by adoring Swedish blondes.

One of my all time favourite bands.

...here's something from the tail end of my pro writing activity, published in August 2001:

Roxy Music
The Point Depot, Dublin, June 9 2001

Set List: Remake-Remodel / Street Life / Ladytron / Heart Still Beating / If There Is Something / Out Of The Blue / Song For Europe / My Only Love / Oh Yeah / Both Ends Burning / [Andy Mackay solo] / Avalon / More Than This / Mother Of Pearl / Jealous Guy / Editions Of You / Love Is The Drug / Do The Strand / For Your Pleasure

This could have been a travesty – and it wasn’t. It was a triumph: Ferry’s voice showed little sign of the thinness characterising recent solo work; the ten-piece band had more balls and punch – if more to prove - than Roxy’s last touring unit in ’83; and finally, this may have been a tour to promote their latest best-of but it was a set list for those who already own the box set.
Scene-setting with a pre-show sequence of moody instrumentals, including the sublime B-side ‘South Downs’, fore-warned that this would be no Avalon-by-numbers affair. Opening to the unmistakeable rush of ‘Remake-Remodel’ from the debut album, the first thing apparent – bar Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay’s neo-teddy-boy wardrobery – is how fantastic a drummer Paul Thompson is. Bryan, Phil and Andy may be the ones in the reunion pics but the bedrock to this concert’s success lies in small part at the door of Paul Thompson. Yet, as the diminishing artistic and commercial returns of all four’s post-Roxy activities should demonstrate, there is something in the Roxy brand and experience much greater than the sum of its parts.

Evident at this tour’s opening night showing was a bunch of individuals who were clearly embracing with a gusto akin to that of a dedicated tribute band the opportunity to remake, remodel and celebrate every corner of such a rich catalogue of music. Those who had come anticipating only the later hits would be, if not disappointed, then certainly challenged to come along for one frenetically-paced two-hour ride through the whole maelstrom of magic that had electrified the early seventies. Late period hits – though, daringly, no ‘Dance Away’ or ‘Angel Eyes’ – were sprinkled throughout lest the experience prove too heady for some. Surprisingly, ‘Avalon’ was one of only a couple of weak moments throughout. Memorable on record, its failure to sparkle onstage may reflect the apogee of multi-layered sumptuousness in its original production – a sound that climaxed the group’s original journey and which, even with the supreme Chris Spedding filling in guitar textures, cannot be convincingly reproduced.

Another slight disappointment was Ferry’s vocal delivery during the latter part of ‘If There Is Something’ – emotionally scorching in 1972, taken with a more pedestrian lilt today. Balancing that, though, was Spedding’s stunning coda to ‘My Only Love’ - a masterclass in the expressive power of the instrument, only narrowly failing to reach escape velocity when Mackay (not on the record) wandered on to riff superfluously. Thankfully, if this was a touch of ego, it was rarely displayed. This was primarily an ensemble show, with occasional doffs of the spotlight toward the hired hands: pianist Colin Good, a bass player, a backing vocalist, a percussionist and violinist/synth twiddler Wincey Wilkins. Much – too much - has been made of Brian Eno’s non-involvement in the reunion, but on a purely musical level there was nothing he had played on record that Wilkins couldn’t replicate onstage. Following a spontaneous rush to the front of this well-heeled 8000-seater during ‘More Than This’, ‘Mother Of Pearl’ might have been expected to deflate the moment but a cunningly-chosen (or luckily next on the list) ‘Jealous Guy’ kept it together even producing, in its play-out, something akin to a ‘Radio Ga Ga’ hand-clapping effect in the now all standing crowd. ‘Editions Of You’ was simply manic – a mischievous reminder that Roxy, latterday darlings of the jet set, were once on the cutting edge of popular music. And don’t you forget it.

As for style-maestro Ferry, he changed his jacket twice, sashayed and grooved around in that peculiarly angular way one expects of him and, by the time the encores came around, seemed so thrilled – and justly so – with the way it had all turned out that he was goofing almost wilfully on the borders of self-parody. But who’s complaining? This was a fabulous show: a reputation maintained and a public surprised, perhaps, but also delighted. Roll on the live album!

I think I saw them some years later, maybe as late as 2008, but it was the same musicians and more or less the same set-list. Wonderful gig!!

Looking back, I think Supertramp supported them first time I saw them at Liverpool Stadium. I can't be sure because I didn't pay any attention.

I think the difference was in 2008 they brought back Paul Thompson at last. A wonderful and brutal drummer. Andy Newmark is superbly good technically but nothing like as ferocious. I thought at the time it was a bit like Iggy getting the original Stooges back together - Roxy have a real nastiness

And a band I love too. I remember when they did their most recent comeback people turned up to hear Avalon - not at all to be sneered at - and got full on very loud demented art rock from 1973. His artistic persona is so tied up in his lifestyle he can't seem to just get the fucking music out the door - which he & they did to superb effect for ten wonderful years of nigh flawless endeavour. Some of its rubbish but it doesn't matter - a great man and a great band

We went to see him a few years back, only to hear a few days before the gig that he'd been laid low with laryngitis. Nonetheless, the day arrived, we showed up, and the game was on. He came on stage and apologised before they started that he was still rather poorly, but that they'd decided to go ahead and see how he coped. In the end he managed a creditable hour or so, and despite obviously struggling at times, no-one felt short-changed. Ferry and band got a rousing ovation at the end, disaster averted.

I know there had been Gil Scott-Heron & The Last Poets but Public Enemy's venom was astonishing and alarming!

I was a late comer to them and only really got to them with shut em down which remains one of the all time greats. Still remember seeing it for the first time on yo mtv raps - no music before or since has had the same impact.

Go back to the 90's how many dance records had PE samples built into them. Without PE and the bomb squad production in particular, dance music in this country would be wildly different.

definitely prompted the question in the OP

... something SSS happily acknowledged, even at the time. In my all-too-frequent "you'll think I'm mad" moments, I recommend that people give the Sputniks another listen - divorced from the hype and in a post-sampling/bleep-techno musical landscape they sound remarkably fresh. BTW, Tony James is actually in the process of uploading hours of demos for free download at his website...

Those who were there might argue that it was already part of the Bristol trip-hop/dub scene, but that album sounded very strange and unexpected when it first came out: I remember first hearing the song 'Ponderosa' on the Mark Radliffe show and not being able to musically place it at all.

I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to ever hear Roxy Music again as long as I live.

....anyone? I found that pretty much out there and Tom has been pretty much out there since.

It's only my favourite album of all time!!

was pretty much out there when you did Zero Time too, old chum.

That and the follow-up (It's About Time) are fabulous, organic, breathing Moog albums. Amazing now to think that they were considered artificial and sterile at the time.

Are there many? I can only think of this one off the top of my head It's Macca's little brother Mike and that's Wings backing him up

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsZ107kyAs8

Can we also count this brilliant version of Virginia Plain by Kevin Eldon as Chairman Mao on Big Train?

Note the way Phil Cornwell on the drums does the "mugging at the camera" thing that all drummers do - genius!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEa9HvEcIlE

I picked up a vinyl copy not long after it came out - probably remaindered, as I don't think it sold a lot - and was blown away; a quick glance at the lovely gatefold sleeve reveals it's basically a Wings album with Mike on board too. Very good, recommend a commission, sergeant. Sah!

Is the one on Ferry's "Lets Stick Together" album - which was an early demo with Davy O'List.

It's a great record. As you say, it's really a Wings album with vocals/lyrics by Mike McCartney and most of the music by Paul.

In what must be the only McGough/McCartney composition, poet Roger McGough wrote the lyrics for The Casket and the great Paddy Moloney plays Aeolian pipes.

Much covered, often quite well. I have versions by Lucy Kaplansky, 10,000 Maniacs. Norah Jones, blondie, Lanu, Missy Higgins and the Far West
Here's 10k, who we see and hear too little of round here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdRCHKPb5-4

Returning to the theme of Roxy covering others, I have a rather good live(Paris??)with a stonking Like a Hurricane and quite a good 8 Miles High
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SseFmHprqcI

Halleluwah, discovered it recently on the deutsche elektronische musik vol 2. Those drums!!!!!!

It's like a DJ shadow remix. Relentlessly funky - ace.

Once, quite a few years ago and recently with the reunion tour.

I've got all their albums and am a big fan ,go to heaps of concerts and for some reason passed on both tours ,which of course were apparently excellent.

All I saw was the Ferry let's stick together tour

chiz curses

First time around '75; Split Enz played support, and Manzanera was so taken with them that he invited them to record in the UK with him at the desk.

Ferry did a solo tour in '77 supporting the In Your Mind LP.

They were together again for the '83 tour (Andy Newmark on drums and Gary Tibbs on bass), and were here again in 2002 and 2011. Ferry's toured solo a few times in the interim, but I couldn't tell you when since I didn't go (a quick online squiz indicates a double headlining tour with Joan Armatrading in 2007).

but I'm danged about not noticing the 2002 tour,though given my track record I'd have stupidly passed on that one too

Here, xxx may be understood as Trout Mask Replica. Makes the first Roxy Music album sound like the first Roxy Music album. That's how weird that is.

TMR didn't come out of nowhere. We knew Beefheart's track record and he'd already released 2 or 3 quite weird albums already. Plus TMR had major input from Mr Weirdness himself, Frank Zappa.

We could kind of see it coming, if you will.

But TMR *is* a leap into another dimension of recorded sound from Strictly Personal. Safe As Milk is a pretty straightforward rock-pop album. And TMR did NOT have major input from Zappa! They'd been working on that music for nine months. He just came along and turned on a tape recorder.

While Frank didn't have too much to do with the music (although, as we discussed, The Blimp is actually lifted from Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Flesh album) it had his stamp of approval and his name was all over TMR. His label, his production credit and on some tracks, even his music and his voice.

It's okay with me, I understand you and where you're coming from, but Ian ... I think I might have told him where you live, an' all.

any longer. The Magic Band and Beefheart were distinctly unimpressed and disappointed with Frank's 'production' of the album and his idiotic decision, initially, to do a 'field recording' at the Trout House with The GTOs in attendance. (hastily abandoned) They were incensed that, by comparison, Frank spent hours on Wild Man Fischer. As far as I'm aware, Frank's only musical contribution to the album is 'The Blimp'.
Sure, it's his label, but so what? I doubt if Branson gets many kudos for 'Never Mind the Bollocks'.

as "executive producer" of TMR in the same way that Tarantino or Spielberg's name appears at the end of films they've had little or nothing to do with, other than perhaps sponsor, fund or generally lend their names to projects which are "in the style of".

away from the original point. I wasn't saying Zappa had much to do with the music on TMR, just that it had his seal of approval and so we kind of knew the album would be interesting if nothing else.

Also Ian's Virgin/Branson comparison doesn't quite work. Straight/Bizarre was a tiny cottage industry label and the artists were hand-picked because Frank and/or Herb Cohen liked their music.

more charitable and accept your Exec Producer point. I worked at Virgin decades ago and Branson wouldn't know a hit if he tripped over it. Tin ear doesn't come close and I doubt if he even owned a record.

That was never going to work. Possibly the two most autocratic (polite form) artists in rock music. The idea that Zappa could "produce" the Magic Band at that point is a non-starter. What's he going to do? Add phasing like Bob Krasnow? Strings? Beefheart didn't start getting properly "produced" (first album aside) until Clear Spot. So I do see what you mean about the Executive Producer role, although I disagree TMR was in any way "in his style" - and contributing a couple of minutes instrumental track to a long double album doesn't exactly make it his own, either. The Magic Band was the most insular, obsessed and dedicated group of musicians ever. "Zen art dudes" in Bill Harkleroad's words. So Zappa had the poisoned chalice - no way he was going to win here - give the music a "production" with sweeteners and overdubs and FX and he'd have been crucified - just let them play while the tape rolls (the right decision) and the musicians feel they're being short-changed.

But when I said "in the style of" I didn't mean it necessarily sounded like a Zappa album, but more of a "Like this? Then try this" kind of deal we see in album reviews these days. Chances are if you liked and understood Zappa, you'd be halfway there with Beefheart too.

To sum up: one weird guy enables another even weirder guy to release the mother of all weird albums on the first weird guy's weird boutique record label. Despite producing a weird and wonderful album it ends badly for both weird guys.

Funnily enough, the producer The Magic Band respected the most was the king of soft-rock, David Gates. He did a phenomenal job on 'Diddy Wah Diddy', getting an enormously punchy sound. They weren't hugely taken by Richard Perry.
When Zappa tried to help out Don by including him on the Bongo Fury tour, he wasn't best pleased when Van Vliet spent his onstage downtime dashing off caricatures of Frank as the Devil.

Lionel is more important than Geoff.

(Ian - can you imagine how "grateful" Don would have been at being "helped out" by someone he considered a rival? More Crow Pie than Hair Pie on his table then.)

to Diddy Wah Diddy was Moonchild which was actually written by David Gates.

A&M Records was a strange record label to be sure.

It started life as an outlet for Herb Alpert (he's the 'A' in A&M, the 'M' being Jerry Moss) to release his none-more MOR Tijuana Brass records.

Beefheart notwithstanding, it was easy listening pretty much all the way until the late 60s when A&M began to handle the US releases for a number of British acts from the Island and Regal Zonophone labels including Tyrannosaurus Rex, Free, Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens, Procol Harum and Fairport Convention.

In C. For nearly everyone who heard it back then, this came right out of nowhere and sounded (still sounds) like nothing but its own self.

Isn't that sort of thing a bit esoteric & cultured for you? I had you down as a dirty, filthy Rhythm & Blues (in old money) kind of guy with a bit of greasy, long-haired wig-out for relaxation.

we're complex. Surprising. You can't pigeonhole us.

He's been a bit quiet lately. I hope he's OK.

To his own Roxy medley in a cloud of tautology

of different songs strung together in a suite-like form.

He should be referred to as The Bob, surely...?

I read a comment somewhere (or was it in the telly?) to the effect that the first Roxy albums sounds like 5 completely different bands laying at the same time. I really like them including BF's daft affected singing, which somehow works in context. Out of context, when he does covers, I find it unlistenable.

It's been a mixed bag. His solo debut These Foolish Things appeared in 1973 hot on the heels of the second Roxy album and worked well enough as collection of cover versions at a time when such things weren't so commonplace.

The lounge lizard image was cemented in 1974 with Another Time, Another Place (or The White Tuxedo By The Swimming Pool Album, as I like to call it). This was almost as good, despite some odd song choices.

I more or less gave up on his solo stuff after that (Let's Stick Together notwithstanding), finding them too camp and overblown. Any recommendations?

It is overloaded with expensive musicians but it sounds sumptuous and the rhythms and melodies are sensuous. It really is absolutely delicious. It ought to be listened to by candlelight and as a romantic couple but it works beautifully under headphones too.

His other albums pale in comparison.

His problem was that the lounge lizard look - when he and Anthony Price came up with it - was so perfect for Ferry that essentially he turned into that person. Eventually it destroyed the conceptual joke of Roxy Music and must have made it much harder for Ferry to come up with new material. In the early days they could do pretty much whatever they wanted and if Paul Thompson got bored he would batter the living shite out of it. Very exciting. Later on it all had to work with the finished product tragic sleazeball frontman persona. And while its unfair to Ferry who is a proper artist, he really IS a sleazeball frontman. Trapped...

Also good background music for rumpy pumpy as selected by my ex, I can attest. Now there's a thread idea.

Rabbit.

(with acknowledgements to Men Behaving Badly)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOSseI1hao8

I am more of a triple album by the Mahavishnu Orchestra kind of guy myself. Might be a bit distracting though, all that widdly, stop start, time change stuff - could put a chap off his stride.

BAG is a fine album indeed, but there are several others which match and in some cases surpass it IMHO. 'Frantic' has some great songs (including the wonderful Ferry/Eno collaboration 'I Thought', a career highlight) and the production and playing have a refreshingly immediate, spontaneous feel which is generally absent from BF's work. 'The Bride Stripped Bare' is perhaps his most personal and emotionally honest work; he was seriously hurting after Jerry Hall dumped him, and it shows. 'As Time Goes By' is an elegant and stylish evocation of a musical era close to his heart; the first signs of weakness in his voice add to the poignant moods of romantic vulnerability and ennui created by the authentic instrumentation and arrangements. 'Bete Noire' and 'Mamouna' look to refine the sonic blueprint laid down by BAG, but as is his wont, he worked and re-worked so obsessively on these in particular that the life, energy and joy has been frustratingly and disappointingly drained from the songs. Strangely, however, his most recent album 'Olympia' was by all accounts created under very similar working processes, yet sounds fresh, contemporary and very, very cool.
Mr F. is of course, very fond of his cover versions, and they are invariably memorable. They can be found dotted around most of the ostensibly 'original' albums from the 1970s onwards, or grouped together on collections such as the previously mentioned ATGB, the early 90s 'Taxi', and the 'Dylanesque' album, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

but none are as complete as B&G. There's usually a track or two or three or four or more that are best 'skipped', whereas every track on B&G is lovely. Bette Noire is even more plush sounding but has fewer decent 'songs', for example. I do like the emotion in Bride Stripped Bare & he puts a lot into his Dylan covers especially, but I could happily live without 20% of those albums.

That's why Boys And Girls is his best IMV, OOAA ect ect!!

Excellent album, though I haven't listened to it for decades. But I used to like it. The only cover of his I can listen to is Eight miles High. In fairness I avoid his covers as the ones I've heard have been awful (Let's work together - do me a favour). I would explore further if I ever had any time to listen to music these days.

Mr. Ferry was interviewed at length recently for a German music mag, and spoke about Eno leaving the band after the second Roxy Music album.

"It certainly was the right thing for him – he wanted to get involved in the songwriting, and I wouldn't allow that at the time – but Roxy lost an important part. I often think about what he would have added to the songs on the following albums. Roxy surely would have gone to an entirely different level with him involved..."

Eno's first two 'comedy' albums?
I still have a place in my heart for Warm Jets but Tiger Mountain is bloody rubbish!

An absolutely priceless live boot of Roxy live for German TV in '73. This one passes the Burt Boot Kwality test - great clear recording, and the band is shit hot, with Ferry's vocals bang in the middle of the note - a great singer. Should of been an official release, innit. If you like their early recordings you'll love this (ectect).

There's an official, licensed DVD of the gig:

The story goes that Roxy Music were scheduled to play two songs in one of the first editions of German TV show "Musikladen" (late-night & live successor to the famous 'Beat Club' series, made by the same team, including the presenter, the fabulous Uschi Nerke). After the two songs (Virgina Plain and Do The Strand), she announced something like "Wow, this is great. Switch over to our regional broadcast after the news, and the band will play on." And indeed they did: apparently their soundcheck had been received so well by the TV people, that they (at a few hour's notice) cancelled the following programs and let the live session roll on for another hour.

... but what a shite cover.

musikladen photo MUSIKLADEN_zps54c22cdf.jpg

If I did obtain the DVD, how do I rip the soundtrack onto iTunes?

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