I must say I was pretty damn worried about the first post-Eno Roxy Music album. I have heard later records and, well, I didn’t love them. I don’t love where Ferry took the band. I figured this was the beginning of the end, with the “end” being Ferry the oh so sophisticated synthpop crooner.
So imagine my surprise/relief when I heard this record. Ferry’s songs are still weirder than conventional pop rock – though, in fairness to Ferry, it’s not so much his songwriting that got too conventional, as the arrangements around his songs and his singing. His lyrics, when I care to listen, are still interesting enough or at least well above average.
But it’s the arrangements where the band still has me: Manzanera is still allowed to be unconventional, though not quite as much so as he used to be. (On later records I sometimes wonder what happened to him.) But the big surprise is Jobson, whose violin (and keyboards) occasionally approximates some of the craziness Eno brought, and otherwise adds a new texture to the band’s sound. No, there are not oscillator solos or what have you, but there’s enough going on in these arrangements that it still sounds like Eno-era Roxy Music, minus a few bonkers moments. Given that I greatly prefer that version of the band, this makes me happy.
One other thing: Ferry himself is still a weird singer. His phrasing, his use of different aspects of his voice, his singing in different languages – all of these things make him interesting and compelling. If memory serves, he abandons most of these quirks by the time we get to later records.
So I really like this. Sure, not as much as I like the first two records but I like those a hell of a lot, especially the first one. They still feel like a band here, not a vehicle for Ferry’s career. And they don’t sound like anyone else.