Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekend Mix: Nocturnal Admissions

Between 1972 and 1977, Bryan Ferry, with and without Roxy Music made 9 of my favorite albums.
In the early-mid '70's, Roxy Music was about the coolest band around. They made 5 of them, each one better than the last.
They weren't childhood friends. Bryan found everyone through advertisements in Melody Maker.

In early 1970 he auditioned for King Crimson, as a replacement for Greg Lake. Although Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield felt his voice was unsuitable, they were impressed enough to help the fledgling Roxy Music get a contract with E.G. Records.

Andy Mackay replied to Ferry's advertisement, not as a keyboard player but a saxophonist and oboist, though he did have a VCS3 synthesizer. Mackay knew Brian Eno from university days, as both were interested in avant-garde and electronic music. Although Eno was a non-musician, he could operate a synthesizer and owned a Revox reel-to-reel, so Mackay convinced him to join the band as a technical adviser. Before long Eno was an official member.

In June 1971, Paul Thompson responded to an advertisement placed in Melody Maker, "wonder drummer wanted for an avant rock group".

Originally naming the band Roxy, Ferry changed it when hearing of an American band with the same name. "Roxy Music" was partly an homage to old cinemas and dance halls, and partly a pun on the word rock.

In October 1971 he advertised in Melody Maker seeking the "Perfect Guitarist".  Phil Manzanera was one of about twenty players who auditioned. However, Manzanera did not get the gig; the successful applicant was David O'List, former member of The Nice. The group were impressed enough with Manzanera that he was invited to become Roxy Music's roadie, an offer which he accepted.

Bands of brothers tolerate conflicts better than a bunch of free agents. Roxy Music was never stable. They didn't even even have a permanent bassist, but rather a rotating group of temps.

Davy O'List was edged out due to some kind of altercation with Paul Thompson prior to getting their record deal. In the meantime, roadie Phil Manzanera had secretly learned all his parts. Their first BBC sessions feature O'List. It's interesting to compare and contrast their styles.

Bryan Ferry pursued a solo career concurrent with Roxy Music, using wonder drummer, Paul Thompson, and Roxy's rotating bass players. Andy Mackay is the only member, besides Eno who doesn't participate. He was replaced by Mel Collins. Chris Spedding largely handles the guitars, although Davy O' List and Phil Manzanera both make appearances.

Three of the four solo albums are dominated by covers. In fact he was one of the first to tackle material not normally associated with rock n roll.
"In Your Mind" (1977) is all original material.

Then two things happened. In 1977 Jerry Hall left him for Mick Jagger, and a little later "The Great Paul Thompson" quit due to musical differences.

Ferry's "The Bride Stripped Bare" (1978), and Roxy Music's "Manifesto (1979) suffer greatly from his absence, and instead feature the slick hired gun sound he's mostly stuck with ever since.

Paul Thompson's return did wonders for Roxy Music's 2001 reunion tour and the resulting 2002 double live album.

In March 2005, it was announced on Phil Manzanera's official site that the band, including Brian Eno, would record an album of new material. The project would mark the first time Eno worked with Roxy Music since 1973's "For Your Pleasure".
After a number of denials that he would be involved with any Roxy Music reunion, on 19 May 2006 Eno revealed that he had contributed two songs to the new album as well as playing keyboards on other tracks.
He did, however, rule out touring with the band. Had the record been released as a Roxy Music album, it would have been the first album since "Manifesto"* on which original drummer Paul Thompson performed. The album has, however, been released as a Bryan Ferry solo album entitled "Olympia".

I'm glad they didn't call it a Roxy Music album.

This compilation comes from his first four, 1973-77. The Roxy Music titles are covers.


Nocturnal Admissions

Nocturnal Admissions Too

*although Thompson is listed as a member of the band, two other drummers are also credited, and the drums, overall, lack any of Thompson's signature sound.


Nick said...

I have always loved Ferry and Roxy. Wouldn't they make a great Super Bowl halftime show? Just wishful thinking.

dogbreath said...

For a couple of reasons I've recently been revisiting the early albums too. One, an occasional lunch partner had regaled me with tales of wining, dining & chasing younger women with Mr Ferry many years back (Ah! Those heady days). Secondly, and more relevantly, although he lost me for a bit with the jazz band stuff, his latest musical escapades have proved very rewarding and satisfying, viz "Avonmore" and the live tour album. The apparent frailty of his voice, age no doubt, can be a cause for concern but there's no sign of "that old ennui" setting in just yet and he's more than kept his sophisticated, elegant end up in the two live shows I've seen. A very nice compilation of the early stuff, for which many thanks. Cheers!

Bombshelter Slim said...

I guess it was mid-70s and somebody was playing Ferry's 1st solo album... I thought it sounded a little mannered (of course, it was!)... later that year somebody was playing "Here Come The Warm Jets"... I didn't get that either!! Soooo, long story short, I visited a friend's record store (great guy, he, and Very Knowlegeable, ever meet anyone like that?) and asked: what's with this Ferry/Eno crap? He pulled out the 1st Roxy Music album and slapped it on (delicately) and lo and behold it all became clear. Been a fan ever since!

buzzbabyjesus said...

Here's a bonus track:

"Would You Believe" with Davy O'List @ The BBC, within days of his getting sacked, before getting signed.

Dr Wu said...

Thanks for this excellent mix, BBJ! Always have had a soft spot in my heart for his 'Let's Stick Together' album. I've enjoyed most of his and Roxy's albums through the years. If memory serves, his cover of 'Take Me To The River' came out before the Talking Heads' version.

Sal Nunziato said...

Like BBJ, those first five Roxy records remain 5 of my favorite records of all time, especially "For Your Pleasure" and "Siren." I hated "Avalon" the minute I heard it, especially the title track. I've softened a bit over the years. I got the idea out of my head that it was supposed to sound like Roxy Music. When I went into it as solo Ferry, I accepted it more, though I still hate the title track. As for later solo Ferry- got to say, "Olympia" is a gem, as is "Frantic." Also don't mind "Taxi" and "Mamouna."

dAN said...

"The group were impressed enough with Manzanera that he was invited to become Roxy Music's roadie" - seems like a harsh outcome for a guitar audition! But it turned out well enough for him

buzzbabyjesus said...

I think the group liked Phil better, but it was Bryan's call.

Dr Wu said...

The weekend I completed boot camp, Roxy was playing a concert in Chicago during the 'Avalon' tour. Desperately attempted to convince my buddies to go, but as you can imagine after being lockdown for nine weeks, a concert wasn't high on their list. A few years later, I stood outside for more than six hours for tickets to Bryan's 'Bete Noire' tour. I got second row center seats for my wife and I. It was a fantastic concert - one of my favorites of all time. Those first five are fantastic, with 'Stranded' and 'Country Life' being personal standouts. I love 'Frantic' and listen to 'Taxi' often. I'm grateful to Sal for getting me to give 'Olympia' and 'Avonmore' a chance - they spent much time in constant rotation. Thanks again, BBJ! Your mix has been played LOUD since the download - lucky neighborhood.

Eric said...

u r the man

Bulletins From Mars Hill said...

Great comp, of a great band. Once more track tagging is all wrong. Spoils the comp as I will have to spend half an hour retagging to play it the way you intended it to be heard.