So, summer attire on, we’re ready for cocktails and al-fresco action, but we just need some appropriate tuneage…If you want glamour. It’s got to be Roxy Music. If you want stone-cold classic albums with hot cover art, it’s got to be Roxy Music, if you want that retro vibe that screams summer, then Roxy Music. Roxy Music it is then.
The choice from their oeuvre was made simple by the inclusion of Virginia Plain (which actually made it on to the U.S release, rather than the original 1972 Island records press). Gorgeousness incarnate. Art rock? Glam rock? Prog Rock? Or just rock? Their art school aesthetic made them visually more arresting than others, and their sound had all the hallmarks of a traditional band set-up, but the beautiful, elegantly raw and sometimes squalling sound was utterly unique, mainly in part to Mr Bryan Ferry, the band’s writer and composer, and his compelling sing-song delivery.
Re-make/Re-Model possibly introduces the idea of the bootleg mash-up long before Soulwax, with Roxy’s postmodern take on music seeing each band member pay ‘homage’ to acts like the Beatles. Ladytron (the electronic pop act taking their cue from Ferry, Eno and the gang) goes full summer by getting the maracas out and letting the ivories fly, and If There is Something starts out as a feel-good, bluesy country tune then the middle solo changes and lets a chill in – fully demonstrating (early on in the band’s career) Ferry’s complete control of each note as he emotively wrings out the last consonant of each line (“I would walk a thousand miiiiiles…”).
Each band member has their talent stamped all over this debut album. Phil Manzanera makes the guitar sing in a thousand different voices, Eno is the production wizard who endures to this day, Andy Mackay takes the sax out of the cheese pit and makes it integral to RM’s sound. Paul Thompson and Graham Simpson provide the backbone that helps propel the band to strange musical lands.
Virginia Plain. Hands up who knows or can sing back the lyrics? No? Us neither, but we can hum along, even with its baroque overtones. One of the best tune endings ever. “What’s her name, Virginia Plain” aaaand stop. 2HB is almost jazz, a genre which Ferry has proved to have a love of and has sung frequently. Skitterish yet delicate drums fills and wandering basslines anchor the keys and vocals, and then (as they are wont to do) simply fades out.
What an album.