Monday, February 18, 2013
The Wrong Turn At Albuquerque
I listened to Bryan Ferry's 1977 release "In Your Mind" this weekend. Wonderful. Probably the last Ferry solo record I really loved before the release of the brilliant "Jazz Age" last year. "In Your Mind" still had that sound of post-Roxy, post-Glam and new wave before his follow-up "The Bride Stripped Bare" served up a more lush and percussive collection of tunes. It felt less organic, as if suddenly, Bryan Ferry became more concerned with Bryan Ferry and less about the band on his albums.
This is not to say I didn't like "The Bride Stripped Bare." (I didn't, but that's not what I'm saying.) Since then, Bryan Ferry has released some great records. 1987's "Bete Noire" and 2002's "Frantic" specifically float my boat. But something did happen with the release of "The Bride Stripped Bare." Bryan Ferry's sound changed and he never looked back. Occasionally, a taste of Roxy or a Chris Spedding-inspired guitar riff will pop up on a solo record, but mostly, those days were over post-"The Bride Stripped Bare."
This got me thinking of other artists who had turning point records. The first that came to mind was Joe Jackson's "Jumpin' Jive." Fun now, but in retrospect, not really what JJ fans were hoping for. And yes, the follow-up "Night & Day" is still a classic and 1986's "Big World" remains my favorite of Joe's output, big and sprawling and absolutely musical. But it's not difficult to see. The change, though more gradual than Bryan Ferry, began with 1981's "Jumpin' Jive."
A more drastic transformation came on the heels of Queen's huge disco hit, "Another One Bites The Dust." Fan or not, the difference between pre-"The Game" and post-"The Game" is like the difference between shooting a bullet or throwing one, as the saying goes.
So I ask of you, dear Woodies, for other records that drew the line between what was and what is. The idea could also work the opposite way, if you'd like, like say John Hiatt's "Bring The Family," bridging Hiatt's uneven 70s and early 80s' material with the records that put him on the map as one of America's greatest singer-songwriters.