Graham Reid | | 1 min read
While it is only right and proper to acclaim the first two Eno-period Roxy Music albums as their finest for the innovation and sheer gall of their arthouse conceit, it is also unfair to dismiss their gleam-sheen later period covered by these two albums.
Siren from '75 (and that's singer Bryan Ferry's then gal-pal Jerry Hall on the cover) found Ferry reconfiguring their sound down to more simple elements, knocking out two great hits (Love is the Drug, Both Ends Burning) and allowing a democratic stance in which their head-turning guitar Phil Manzanera was getting a couple of decent co-credits.
At the time many considered it their smooth-funk masterpiece and it has aged extremely well because they also included some slightly bent and melancholy ballads (End of the Line) and just enough remnants of their earlier sonic effects to keep your ears open.
Ferry also seems nowhere near as mannered as he had been and would sometimes become again. And material like Whirlwind and Could It Happen To Me? might have come from mid-period Split Enz.
Huge at the time but these days rather overlooked.
The later Avalon ('82) is its equal for delightful surfaces and the strength of Ferry's songwriting. Saxophonist Andy MacKay and Manzanera were the sole constants during this period and again both get some excellent airtime.
If it sounds restrained in the comparison with their work a decade previous it was also very much in tune with the times, a kind of cool detachment in the post-punk era which -- given an elegance and poise -- has stood the test of time.
It also sprung hits (More Than This and the title track) and Ferry rarely sounded so soulful, but its real strengths also lay elsewhere in classy and constructed pieces like India, While My Heart is Still Beating and the miniature Tara.
That these two albums together clock in at JB Hi-Fi stores here for just $10 is remarkable and if you've always been a bit sniffy about the suaveness of post-Eno Roxy Music then here's a cheap way of challenging your prejudices.
Yes, some of it is winebar music, but it's better than most things you hear in even the most chic wine bars these days.