Roxy Music -
The Complete Studio Recordings 1972-1982

(10CD 2012, 42:55 / 42:25 / 41:14 / 41:52 / 42:38 / 43:12 / 42:02 / 37:42 / 76:13/ 60:43, Virgin Records 5099944021726)

The albums (for track lists see below):
CD 1: Roxy Music
CD 2: For Your Pleasure
CD 3: Stranded
CD 4: Country Life
CD 5: Siren
CD 6: Manifesto
CD 7: Flesh And Blood
CD 8: Avalon
CD 9:- Singles, B-sides And Alternative Mixes
CD 10: Singles, B-sides And Alternative Mixes

Roxy Music Website       

Roxy Music are an English art rock band formed in 1971 by lead vocalist and songwriter Bryan Ferry and bassist Graham Simpson. The other members were Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy Mackay (saxophone, oboe) and Paul Thompson (drums, percussion). Former members include Brian Eno (synthesizer, 'treatments'), and Eddie Jobson (synthesizer, violin). The band took a break from group activities in 1976 and again in 1983; they reunited for a tour in 2001 and have toured together since then.

Roxy Music were mainly successful in Europe and Australia during the seventies and the early eighties. The band were highly influential as leading proponents of the more experimental, musically sophisticated elements of glam rock, as well as a significant influence on early English punk music. They also provided a model for many new wave acts and the experimental electronic groups of the early eighties. The group is distinguished for their visual and musical sophistication and preoccupation with style and glamour. Ferry and co-founding member Eno have also had influential solo careers, the latter becoming one of the most significant record producers and collaborators of the late twentieth century.

Marking forty years since the release of their eponymous debut in 1972, they now present Roxy Music: The Complete Studio Recordings 1972-1982. This ten-CD box set features the eight studio albums the band recorded. These iconic albums are housed in rigid gatefold style sleeves, mimicking the original vinyl releases. They also contain never seen before outtakes from the original album cover artwork. This fine release contains the albums Roxy Music (1972), For Your Pleasure (1973), Stranded (1973), Country Life (1974), Siren (1975), Manifesto (1979), Flesh + Blood (1980), Avalon (1982) and two bonus discs featuring a selection of none-album singles, B-sides and remixes.

Their eponymous debut was released on June 16, 1972. In general it was well-received by contemporary critics. The opening track Re-Make/Re-Model has been labelled as a post-modernist pastiche, featuring solos by each member of the band echoing various hints of western music. It included Day Tripper (The Beatles), Peter Gunn in the version of Duane Eddy, and Ride Of The Valkyries by Richard Wagner. The esoteric CPL 593H was supposedly the license number of a car spotted by Bryan Ferry and driven by a beautiful woman. Brian Eno produced some self-styled 'lunacy' when Ferry asked him for a 'moonlike' sound for the track Ladytron. A number of songs were thematically linked to movies. 2HB, with its punning title, was Ferry's tribute to Humphrey Bogart. He quoted the line 'Here's looking at you, kid' made famous by the film Casablanca (1942). Chance Meeting was inspired by David Lean's Brief Encounter (1945). The Bob took its title from the movie Battle Of Britain (1968) including a passage simulating the sound of gunfire. At the time the album was a true progressive rock album since it crossed the borders of the then musical standards many times. Devotees of prog rock certainly loved many tracks on this album on which you can hear the sound of the Mellotron in full glory; the overall guitar sound is very melodic; the use of the oboe provides the album with an Eastern sound from time to time.

For Your Pleasure, the band's second album, was released in 1973. This album was their last with synthesizer and sound specialist Brian Eno, who would later on gain high acclaim as a solo artist and producer. Roxy Music were able to spend more studio time than on their debut, combining outstanding material by Bryan Ferry with more elaborate production treatments. For example, the song In Every Dream Home A Heartache - Ferry's sinister ode to an inflatable doll − fades out in its closing section, only to fade back in again with all the instruments subjected to a pronounced phasing treatment. The title track fades out in an elaborate blend of tape loop effects. You could say that a track like The Bogus Man displayed similarities with contemporary material by the kraut rock group Can.

The more up-tempo numbers on the album Do The Strand and Editions Of You were both based upon insistent rhythms in the tradition of Virginia Plain, the band's first single. Do The Strand has been called the archetypical Roxy Music anthem, whilst Editions Of You was notable for a series of catching solos by Andy Mackay (saxophone), Eno (VCS3) and Phil Manzanera (guitar). Brian Eno is clearly present in the final title track making it unlike any other song on the album. In those days, Ferry dated the French model Amanda Lear, who was photographed with a black jaguar for the cover of the album, while Ferry appeared on the back cover as her chauffeur standing in front of a limousine.

The third album Stranded was released late 1973 reaching the number one position on the UK album charts. The cover features Marilyn Cole, Ferry's then girlfriend and Playmate of the Year in 1973. It was the first album on which Bryan Ferry was not the sole songwriter as multi-instrumentalist Andy Mackay and guitarist Phil Manzanera also contributed to the album. Though it was also the first without Brian Eno, who had left the group after For Your Pleasure, he nonetheless rated Stranded as Roxy Music's finest record. He was probably right because with the addition of new member Eddie Jobson the level of musicianship reached a higher standard. Especially his playing on the violin added something special to the compositions that also featured excellent keyboard playing thanks to Eddie's classical background. Listen for example to Psalm, A Song For Europe and Mother Of Pearl and you know what I mean. Being a progressive rock lover you just must at least listen once to this album because it contains everything we like in 'our' genre! Stranded also contained the top-10 single Street Life.

The fourth album Country Life (1974) contains musically the same level as Stranded. Maybe that's why the album is considered by many critics to be among the band's most sophisticated and consistent. Band leader Bryan Ferry took the album's title from the British rural lifestyle magazine Country Life. The opening track The Thrill Of It All, is an up-tempo rocker that further developed the style of songs like Virginia Plain and Do The Strand. It included a quote from Dorothy Parker's poem Resume: you might as well live. Jobson's violin dominates Out Of The Blue, which became a live favourite. Esoteric musical influences were betrayed by the Elizabethan flavour of Triptych and the light-hearted, boogie-blues, Southern rock edge to If It Takes All Night. Casanova was singled out for praise by a number of critics as a more cynical and hard rocking number than the usual Roxy Music fare. Like the earlier In Every Dream Home A Heartache, it was seen as a critique of the hollowness of the contemporary jet set.

The final track Prairie Rose was an ode to Texas and one of its daughters, Jerry Hall, Ferry's new girlfriend at the time, who was soon to appear on the cover of Roxy Music's fifth album Siren and later on in the video to Ferry's hit single Let's Stick Together. The visually punning front cover photo featured two models, who were dressed only in semi-transparent lingerie standing in a forest. As a result, in many areas of the United States the album was sold in an opaque plastic wrapper, because retailers refused to display the cover. An alternative cover featuring just a picture of the forest was used later. Country Life included the band's fourth single All I Want Is You.

The cover of the fifth album Siren (1975) has been adorned with Bryan Ferry's then girlfriend model Jerry Hall on rocks near South Stack, Anglesey. It contained their only U.S. hit Love Is The Drug. Ferry said that the song came to him while kicking the leaves during a walk through Hyde Park. The album featured for the first time a song co-written by Jobson, namely She Sells. However, music wise this song wasn't of the same level as the ones for the albums Jobson made with Curved Air and UK. The entire album contained less strong compositions than the two previous releases. Maybe that was the reason that Roxy Music disbanded in 1976 after the concert tours to support Siren. The live album Viva! was released in August 1976 which showed again that Roxy Music were a strong live unit. Many people truly believed that it was the band's official farewell album!

Out of the blue Roxy Music reunited in 1978 to record a new album, but with a reshuffled line-up. Jobson was no longer present; he was reportedly not contacted for the reunion. At the time, Jobson was touring and recording with his own band UK. The sleeve of Manifesto explicitly identifies the revived Roxy Music's line-up as a septet of Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay, Thompson, and the new members Gary Tibbs (bass), Alan Spenner (bass) and Paul Carrack (keyboards). However, these three members were downgraded to the status of session musicians on all subsequent releases. Manifesto (1979) is the sixth album following an almost four-year recording hiatus. The first single from the album was Trash, a nice up-tempo track. The second single was the disco-tinged Dance Away. Regardless, it became one of the band's biggest hits.

The third single from Manifesto was a re-recorded version of Angel Eyes, which was far more electronic and 'disco' in nature than the power-pop album version. The cover design which featured a variety of manikins was created by Bryan Ferry with fashion designer Antony Price, amongst others. The cover's typography, as well as the album's title, was inspired by the first edition of Wyndham Lewis's literary magazine BLAST. Music wise the album differs from the albums Roxy Music recorded before the break. The strong compositions with progressive rock influences can hardly be heard. For the first time touches of dance music are shining through in their music probably caused by the musical climate back then.

Flesh + Blood (1980), the seventh studio album reached for the number one position in the UK for one week. The album was preceded by the single Over You, a real UK hit. Two more hit singles followed: Oh Yeah and Same Old Scene. The album also included two cover versions: Eight Miles High (The Byrds) and In the Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett). The latter was released as a single in some countries. The album was recorded after drummer Paul Thompson had left the band, essentially making Roxy Music a three-piece consisting of Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera. This album continues with a disco kind of music that started on Manifesto. The music on this album hardly resembles the band that shocked the world in the seventies.

Avalon (1982) was Roxy Music's eighth and to date their last studio album. It was recorded at the Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas and is generally regarded to be a culmination of the smoother, more adult-oriented sound of the band's later work. It was a huge commercial success, hitting the number one spot in the UK and staying on the album charts for over a year. Avalon is the band's only platinum record in the USA. Bryan Ferry's girlfriend Lucy Helmore, who would soon be his wife, appeared on the cover. She wore a medieval helmet carrying a falcon, thus evoking King Arthur's last journey to the mysterious land of Avalon and continued the tradition for Roxy Music albums to feature images of women on the cover artwork. The lush arrangements and the synthesizer drenched sound of Avalon later found its way onto Bryan Ferry's solo album Boys and Girls (1985). The single More Than This preceded the album. It was a hit in Great Britain, Australia and in most European countries. Although a chart failure in the USA, the song was popular on the college radio circuit. It's unusual for a pop song that Ferry's vocals end at 2.45 minutes, leaving the last 1.45 minutes as a synthesizer-driven instrumental. Since then it has become a classic Roxy Music song. The title track was released as the album's second single and became a hit as well. A third extract Take a Chance With Me, with a remixed version of the album track The Main Thing on the B-side, was Roxy Music's last hit single.

The last CDs are for most Roxy fans probably the reason to buy this box. The bonus discs, which are packed in a gold gatefold sleeve feature a selection of non-album singles, B-sides and remixes. They're taken from all periods and include 32 tracks. It's not possible to mention all these tracks separately, but I guess that the ones recorded at the start of the band's career and before they split up are the most interested songs for our readers. Especially non-album tracks like the first single Virginia Plain and its B-side The Numberer. These are both great up-tempo tunes! Their second single Pyjamarama is another fine up-tempo piece with the very Eastern sounding B-side The Pride And The Pain. Hula Kula, the B-side of Street Life, is  a Hawaiian-like instrumental composed by Phil Manzanera. Your Application's Failed, written by Paul Thompson, was used as a B-side for The Thrill Of It All and All I Want Is You, is a great tune as well. The weird sounding instrumental Sultanesque was used for the B-side of the mega hit Love Is The Drug. The most interesting piece on the second disc is Jealous Guy, a song written by John Lennon taken from his album Imagine (1971). Three months after Lennon's death, Roxy Music's version reached the number one position in several countries. Their rendition is much longer than the original version due to the perfect instrumental passages. This fine tribute to Lennon certainly regained my interest in the band at the time.

Well, it took me a while to listen to these ten CDs. In a way they brought back many good memories of the time these albums were originally released. Especially in the early days Roxy Music can be regarded to be musical pioneers that provided the music scene with some great songs. Unfortunately they recorded more radio-friendly material instead of returning to their roots after they reunited. Every now and then you'll hear highly rated compositions. I guess it was part of the band's musical process which I could enjoy again thanks to this great release that really looks stunning in this little black box. It's highly recommended to all fans of Roxy Music and to all progressive rock lovers who followed the band since they started out in 1971.

**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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The tracks:
CD 1: Roxy Music (42:55)
  1- Re-Make/Re-Model
  2- Ladytron
  3- If There Is Something
  4- 2HB
  5- The Bob (Medley)
  6- Chance Meeting
  7- Would You Believe?
  8- Sea Breezes
  9- Bitters End
CD 2: For Your Pleasure (42:25)
  1- Do The Strand
  2- Beauty Queen
  3- Strictly Confidential
  4- Editions Of You
  5- In Every Dream Home A Heartache
  6- The Bogus Man
  7- Grey Lagoons
  8- For Your Pleasure
CD 3: Stranded (41:14)
  1- Street Life
  2- Just Like You
  3- Amazona
  4- Psalm
  5- Serenade
  6- A Song For Europe
  7- Mother Of Pearl
  8- Sunset
CD 4: Country Life (41:52)
  1- The Thrill Of It All
  2- Three And Nine
  3- All I Want Is You
  4- Out Of The Blue
  5- If It Takes All Night
  6- Bitter Sweet
  7- Triptych
  8- Casanova
  9- A Really Good Time
10- Prairie Rose
CD 5: Siren (42:38)
  1- Love Is The Drug
  2- End Of The Line
  3- Sentimental Fool
  4- Whirlwind
  5- She Sells
  6- Could It Happen To Me?
  7- Both Ends Burning
  8- Nightingale
  9- Just Another High
CD 6: Manifesto (43:12)
  1- Manifesto
  2- Trash
  3- Angel Eyes (Rock Version)
  4- Still Falls The Rain
  5- Stronger Through The Years
  6- Ain't That So
  7- My Little Girl
  8- Dance Away (Ballad Version)
  9- Cry, Cry, Cry
10- Spin Me Round
CD 7: Flesh And Blood (42:02)
  1- In The Midnight Hour
  2- Oh Yeah!
  3- Same Old Scene
  4- Flesh And Blood
  5- My Only Love
  6- Over You
  7- Eight Miles High
  8- Rain, Rain, Rain
  9- No Strange Delight
10- Running Wild
CD 8: Avalon (37:42)
  1- More Than This
  2- The Space Between
  3- Avalon
  4- India
  5- While My Heart Is Still Beating
  6- The Main Thing
  7- Take A Chance With Me
  8- To Turn You On
  9- True To Life
10- Tara
CD 9:- Singles, B-sides And Alternative Mixes (76:13)
  1- Virginia Plain
  2- The Numberer
  3- Pyjamarama (Island Mix)
  4- Pyjamarama (Polydor Mix)
  5- The Pride And The Pain
  6- Do The Strand (USA 7 Mix)
  7- Hula Kula
  8- Your Application's Failed
  9- The Thrill Of It All (Edit)
10- The Thrill Of It All (USA 7 Mix)
11- Love Is the Drug (USA 7 Mix)
12- Sultanesque
13- Both Ends Burning (7 Mix)
14- For Your Pleasure (Live)
15- Trash 2
16- Dance Away (Single Version)
17- Dance Away (Canadian Extended 12 Mix)
18- Angel Eyes (Single Version)
19- Angel Eyes (12 Single Version)
CD 10: Singles, B-sides And Alternative Mixes (60:43)
  1- Oh Yeah! (7 Version)
  2- Manifesto (Remake)
  3- South Downs
  4- Lover
  5- Jealous Guy
  6- To Turn You On (1981 B-Side Version)
  7- More Than This (7 Version)
  8- Avalon (7 Single Version)
  9- Always Unknowing
10- Take A Chance With Me (7 Single Version)
11- Take a Chance With Me (USA 7 Mix)
12- The Main Thing (12 Single Version)
13- The Main Thing (Remix)

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