Sunday, May 22, 2011

Remake/Remodel Your Music Collection - A Roxy Music Buyer's Guide

SirenCurious about the music that is Roxy? Wonder if there's any substance behind the style? Go no further. This guide should help the Roxy-curious sort the diamonds from the pearls to whet the appetite, but be forewarned - you're eventually going to need it all.

For Your Pleasure: The Essential Roxy Music Recordings
For Your PleasureNo "greatest hits" compilation can do them justice. You're better off sampling individual albums to get a feel for the Roxy sound. Siren marks the beginning of the end of the glam-art of Roxy's first four records and is probably the best place for a beginner to start. "Love is the Drug," "End of the Line," and "Both Ends Burning" are definite highlights. Country Life is by far their most consistent record, boasting such incredible numbers as "Thrill of It All" and "All I Want Is You." For Your Pleasure marks the last of Brian Eno's two albums with Roxy Music, and perfectly balances his outrageous sonic exploration with Bryan Ferry's ultra-suave, conventional crooning. Great art merges into great pop with songs like "Do the Strand" and "Editions of You." "In Every Dream Home a Heartache," Ferry's ode to his inflatable lover is the show-stopper here, though - an absolute stone-cold, increasingly frenzied Roxy classic. At the opposite end of the spectrum you'll find the ultra-polished, uber-romantic Avalon, the final studio outing that features the incredible title track, "More Than This," and "Take a Chance With Me."

No Strange Delight: The Rest of the Roxy Catalogue
VivaIf you love what you've heard so far, run out and grab Stranded and Roxy Music. The energetic (and surprisingly, remarkably good) live offerings, Viva and Heart Still Beating show that Roxy's magic wasn't confined to the studio. Aching to complete the collection? Even the weakest studio recordings, Manifesto and Flesh & Blood, satisfy, even if they begin to sound simply like Bryan Ferry solo records. Which isn't a bad place to stop next...

Slave to Love: Bryan Ferry
OlympiaFor the fan addicted to Ferry's lush vocals and aching for more beyond Roxy Music, his solo albums provide a comfortable haven. His first two collections, largely comprosed of covers, These Foolish Things and Another Time Another Place, rank among his finest recordings. Boys & Girls and Bete Noire, on the other hand, are two incredible records of Ferry's original compositions. Let's Stick Together splits the difference beautifully with originals, covers, and Roxy remakes/remodels. In Your Mind is essential, if only for "This is Tomorrow" and Bride Stripped Bare, Mamouna, Frantic, Taxi, and As Time Goes By round out the classic catalogue, the latter two of which are, again, largely collections of covers that have come to find themselves among the most frequently played in my collection. Dylanesque offers, of course, Bob Dylan through the Ferry filter while the most recent, 2010's Olympia, brings back originals.

Glambient: The Works of Brian EnoHere Come The Warm Jets
Though Eno was only with Roxy for the first two albums, his influence was vast. For those seeking a little more of the bizarre side of the the first two records, witness with awe as Brian Eno singlehandedly transforms glam to ambient over the course of just under two years with this holy trinity of solo releases, Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, and the absolutely incredible Another Green World. If Another Green World doesn't revive your faith in the power of music, nothing will.
Eno continued inventing and reinventing the ambient soundscape with other essential records such as Discreet Music and Before and After Science. Prior to his solo debut, he turned in what many consider to be the essential ambient album, No Pussyfooting, along with Robert Fripp.

Ambient 1-4 and More: Music as Furniture, Music for Your FutureApollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks
For the fan enthralled with Eno, there are seemingly boundless riches to be discovered, as his career has been prolific to say the least. Any respectable ambient/Eno library must at least contain the following: Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror, Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, and On Land. Those four records along with Music For Films and Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks will set you well on your way to happy listening and will ensure that you always have something to play "in the background" (that was the point, after all) without resorting to soft rock. In every dream home a heartache? Who knows, but at least there will be some damn fine music.

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