Roxy Music

Roxy Music was an English art-rock band led by singer Bryan Ferry. They emerged with the 1972/73 albums Roxy Music and For Your Pleasure and the hits “Virginia Plain,” “Do the Strand,” and “Editions of You.” Both albums feature keyboardist Brian Eno, who left for a solo career. Eddie Jobson joined on keyboard and violin for the 1973–75 albums Stranded, Country Life, and Siren, which spawned some of their best-loved material: “A Song for Europe,” “Mother of Pearl,” “The Thrill of It All,” “Out of the Blue,” “Sentimental Fool,” and “Love Is the Drug.”

During a three-year hiatus (1976–78), the members engaged in side projects: reedist Andy Mackay scored music for ITV’s Rock Follies; guitarist Phil Manzanera engaged in group endeavors (Quiet Sun, 801) and issued three solo albums; and Ferry focused on his solo career.

In 1979, Roxy Music returned with the album Manifesto and the single “Angel Eyes.” Between 1980 and 1982, they released the albums Flesh and Blood and Avalon and scored hits with “Same Old Scene,” “Jealous Guy,” “More Than This,” and “Avalon.” After the 1983 live EP The High Road, they disbanded again but reunited as a touring act in the 2000s.

Members: Bryan Ferry (piano, keyboards, synthesizer, vocals), Andy Mackay (saxophone, oboe), Graham Simpson (bass, 1971-72), Brian Eno (synthesizer, 1971-73), Dexter Lloyd (drums, 1971), Roger Bunn (guitar, 1971), Paul Thompson (drums, 1971-80, 2001-11), Davy O’List (guitar, 1971-72), Phil Manzanera (guitar, 1972-2011), Rik Kenton (bass, 1972-73), John Porter (bass, 1973), Sal Maida (bass, 1973-74), Eddie Jobson (violin, synthesizer, 1973-76), John Gustafson (bass, 1973-76), Rick Wills (bass, 1973-75), John Wetton (bass, 1974-75), Gary Tibbs (bass, 1978-80), Paul Carrack (keyboards, piano, 1978-80), Alan Spenner (bass, 1978-83), Andy Newmark (drums, 1980-83)


Background

Roxy Music had its roots in The Gas Board, a late sixties band formed at Newcastle University by singer Bryan Ferry and musicians Graham Simpson and John Porter. Ferry and Simpson formed a writing partnership.

After college, Ferry taught ceramics at an all-girl’s school. In early 1970, he auditioned for King Crimson to replace Greg Lake (who left to form Emerson Lake & Palmer). KC bandleader Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield deemed Ferry unsuited to Crimson’s material but the two parties stayed in contact. Later that year, Ferry reconnected with Simpson and placed an ad for musicians.

Their first hire was Andy Mackay, a classically trained woodwindist who played in a sequence of bands (The Nova Express, Sunshine) while enrolled as a music and English lit major at Reading University. Just after joining Ferry’s band, Mackay had a chance train-stop encounter with Brian Eno, an enthusiast of electronic music who, despite no formal training, could handle synthesizers and reel-to-reel tape machines. They hired Eno as a sound technician and, soon enough, a full-fledged member.

The original sextet included guitarist Roger Bunn and drummer Dexter Lloyd. Bunn played on the first album by Pete Brown & Piblokto! (Things May Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on Forever) and released a solo album, Piece of Mind, earlier in 1970. Lloyd, a classically trained timpanist, hailed from Chicago but fled to the UK to avoid the draft.

Ferry and Mackay chose a band name by looking down a list of old cinemas. “Roxy” stood out because, in Ferry’s view, it conjured “faded glamour.” When they learned of the Canadian band named Roxy, they modified the name to Roxy Music. They gigged throughout 1971 and cut their first demo tape.

That spring, Lloyd departed (he later served as the principal timpanist in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra). Roxy Music hired Newcastle drummer Paul Thompson, who played in a slew of Tyneside beat acts (The Tyme, The Urge) and recently anchored The Influence, the starting vehicle of John Miles. After the late-summer departure of Bunn, Roxy placed an ad in Melody Maker for the “perfect guitarist,” which yielded ex-Nice member David O’List. Another applicant, Phil Manzanera, got hired as their roadie.

On January 4, 1972, the lineup of Ferry, Mackay, Eno, Thompson, Simpson, and O’List cut their first session for BBC Radio One DJ John Peel. They performed five Ferry originals that day: “If There Is Something,” “The Bob (Medley),” “Sea Breezes,” “Re-Make/Re-Model,” and “Would You Believe?” — live favorites that would later form the bulk of their debut album.

In February 1972, O’List quit after an altercation with Thompson (he later cut an album in Jet with ex-Sparks sidemen). Roxy hired Manzanera, who’d already learned their entire set, as their permanent guitarist.

Manzanera, a native Londoner, spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, Venezuela, Colombia, and Cuba, where he absorbed elements of musical exotica. As a teenage boarder at Dulwich College in east London, he formed a sequence of psych bands with his bassist friend Bill MacCormick, including Pooh & The Ostrich Feathers, which evolved into Quiet Sun with keyboardist Dave Jarrett and drummer Charles Hayward. They amassed a set of avant-garde jazz rock but made no recordings before MacCormick split to join Matching Mole, the post-Soft Machine project of Robert Wyatt.

Fripp recommended Roxy Music to EG Management, which signed the band in February 1972. Sinfield produced their debut album at Command Studios, London, during the second half of March. EG, which footed the £5,000 sessions, secured the band a contract with Island Records. On May 31, Roxy Music opened for space-rockers UFO at London’s Marquee Club.


1972: Roxy Music

Roxy Music released their self-titled debut album on June 16, 1972, on Island. It features nine songs written by Bryan Ferry.

Eno plays VCS3 synthesizer and tape effects on Roxy Music. His untutored, expressionist style subverts and counteracts Ferry, who plays piano, Mellotron, and Hohner Pianet. The engineer, Command’s Andy Hendriksen, also worked on 1971/72 titles by Jericho, Jonesy, Keith Tippett, Pink Fairies, and Stud, as well as earlier titles by Arcadium (Breathe Awhile), The Kinks (Arthur), Paul Brett’s Sage (self-titled), Woody Kern (Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk), and Writing on the Wall (Power of the Picts).

Roxy Music is housed in a gatefold sleeve with an overshot by photographer Karl Stoecker of model Kari-Ann Muller. She’s spread across white sheets in vintage showgirl attire by designer Anthony Price with hair by the London salon Smile. Kari-Ann subsequently appeared on the 1974 Mott the Hoople release The Hoople, where the band member’s heads are multiplied throughout the kinks in her hair.

The Roxy Music cover design is credited to Nicholas De Ville and CCS, the firm behind 1971/72 cover visuals for Amazing Blondel, Emerson Lake & Palmer (Tarkus), Jethro Tull (Aqualung, Thick as a Brick), Nick Drake, Stone the Crows, and Tír na nÓg. The inner-fold features liner notes and a color-backed photo of each member, including Simpson, who exited the music world before the album’s release. Ferry sports a horn-curl quiff and a tiger-print jacket. Mackay sports an updated rocker look with a leather jacket and pompadour. Stoecker, Price, and De Ville comprised the ongoing Roxy–Ferry visual team.

Roxy press officer and Ferry friend Simon Puxley did the liner notes. He describes the band’s style as “demonic electronic supersonic mo-mo-momentum – by a panoplic machine-pile, hi-fi or sci-fi.” His descriptions of the music include “Wailing old-time sax… synthesised to whirls and whorls of hard-rock sound… chunks and vorticles of pure electronic wow.”

Roxy Music appeared on the June 20 episode of the BBC music program The Old Grey Whistle Test, performing “Ladytron” and “Remake–Remodel.”


“Virginia Plain”

On August 4, 1972, Roxy Music released “Virginia Plain,” a non-album single backed with the Andy Mackay solo instrumental “The Numberer.”

“Virginia Plain” is a mid-tempo rocker that opens with honky-tonk piano and trebly, open-cadence guitar chords (F#…C#…). The verses feature rococo vocals and melodic oboe accents. On every other stanza, the band yields to warped synth glissandos (“Just tryin’ to, tryin’ to, tryin’ to… make the big time”) and manicured feedback (“Baby Jane’s in Acapulco, we are flyin’ down to Rio”). Manzanera improvised the guitar solo: wailing high bends followed by howling sustain. Later, a fourteen-bar break ensues with tradeoffs between the band (F#) and Eno’s foaming VCS3 effects. Ferry ends the song abruptly at 2:58 (“Can’t you see that Holzer mane? What’s her name, Virginia Plain”).

The lyrics address Roxy Music’s rise to fame with references to Robert E. Lee (a music attorney) and actress Baby Jane Holzer (a member of Andy Warhol’s Factory). The title, inspired by one of Ferry’s own paintings, refers to a type of cigarette by the Craven A brand.

“The Numberer” is an instrumental that, like the a-side, is largely based in F# with verses that alternate crunchy, fuzzy guitar riffs and bubbling synth. Multiple breaks ensue that highlight Mackay’s fluid reeds. Midway, Manzanera adds legato licks that conjure fifties exotica. Ferry plays harmonica on this track.

Both sides feature bassist Rik Kenton, a alumnus of Woody Kern who played on the 1970 avant-rock album Mouseproof by G.F. Fitz-Gerald. Kenton replaced Simpson in May 1972 and served as Roxy’s bassist till the new year.

Roxy Music mimed “Virginia Plain” on the August 24 episode of Top of the Pops. This pushed the single to No. 4 and the album to No. 10 on the UK charts. Subsequent pressings of Roxy Music feature “Virginia Plain” added as the fourth song on side one. In the United States, the album appeared in October 1972 on Reprise with Fenton’s picture in lieu of Simpson on the revised inner-gate. On December 7, Roxy Music launched a month-long, 24-date US tour at Ohio University.


1973: “Pyjamarama”

On February 23, 1973, Roxy Music released “Pyjamarama” (b/w “The Pride and the Pain”). Ferry wrote the song on guitar during the band’s North American tour. The title is a play on the English spelling of “pajamas” (pyjamas) and deals with Bryan’s eagerness to be with Amanda Lear.

The song opens with a sustained strum (in D) with descending chromatic root notes. The same chord sequence holds throughout the flowing, open-cadence verses. Ferry sings in a cooing manner about “a rhapsody divine.” Manzanera plays a muted, sinewy lead under the vocal lines. Mackay takes the break with a billowing sax solo. The second break features double-tracked guitar leads (wailing and searing) over a shaker-sprayed Bo Diddley beat.

Mackay wrote “The Pride and the Pain,” a somber instrumental with mournful oboe and slow piano (in C minor) amid cold winds. Manzanera joins with searing, silvery leads. Midway, a dark choral mass swells the track, which remains drummerless.

The single features bassist John Porter, Ferry’s longtime friend and Gas Board colleague who spent the interim in soul-rockers Uncle Dog with ex-Delivery vocalist Carol Grimes. Kenton, who left after the tour behind Roxy Music, resurfaced twelve years later in Savage Progress.

“Pyjamarama” reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart. (The title later inspired the name Bananarama.) Roxy Music cut the single just prior to their second album with producer John Anthony, a soundman on 1970–72 Charisma titles by Affinity (self-titled), Genesis (Trespass, Nursery Cryme) and Van Der Graaf Generator (H to He, Pawn Hearts). Anthony subsequently produced 1973 albums by Home (The Alchemist), Peter Hammill, and the debut by Queen.


For Your Pleasure

Roxy Music released their second album, For Your Pleasure, on March 23, 1973, on Island and Warner Bros.

Sessions took place in February 1973 at AIR Studios, London. Roxy Music co-produced the album with Chris Thomas (side one) and John Punter (side two). Thomas was an ongoing soundman for Procol Harum. He worked on For Your Pleasure in succession with 1973 albums by John Cale and Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon). Punter recently produced Osibisa and engineered Decca–Deram titles by Caravan (In the Land of Grey and Pink), Hunter Muskett, Keef Hartley Band, Satisfaction, and Walrus.

Punter engineered For Your Pleasure with John Middleton, a soundman on 1973 albums by Electric Light Orchestra, Family, and (with Punter) Rupert Hine.

For Your Pleasure features Porter, who stayed for the ensuing tour. Ferry plays the same instruments as last time (piano, Hohner Pianet, Mellotron), plus rhythm guitar on “In Every Dream Home a Heartache.” Mackay plays Farfisa electronic organ in addition to oboe and saxophone.

For Your Pleasure is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by De Ville and CCS. It features French model–singer (and Ferry’s then-flame) Amanda Lear in a strapless leather dress with opera gloves and stiletto heels. She gives an over-the-shoulder glance while leash-walking a panther toward Ferry (back gate), who acts as her nighttime metropolitan chauffeur. (Lear is the purported subject of “Lady Grinning Soul,” the closing track on David Bowie‘s 1973 release Aladdin Sane.) On the inner-gate, Roxy Music pose in assorted stage outfits. Mackay (white outfit) sports a blue-streaked pompadour.

For Your Pleasure reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 9 in Austria. None of the album’s songs were issued as singles in the UK but “Do the Strand” appeared on 7″ in Europe (b/w “Editions of You”). Roxy Music appeared on the April 3, 1973, broadcast of TOGWT performing “Do the Strand” and “In Every Dream Home a Heartache.”


Eno Quits, Eddie Jobson Joins

On March 15, 1973, Roxy Music embarked on a twenty-two date UK tour with stops in Manchester (3/16/73: Hardrock), Birmingham (3/18: Town Hall), Sheffield (3/28: City Hall), Newcastle (3/29: City Hall), Liverpool (4/5: Empire), Bristol (4/14: Colston Hall), and Cardiff, Wales (4/15: Capitol). At the start if each show, Amanda Lear walked out in her For Your Pleasure attire and introduced the members during the opening number, “The Pride and the Pain.” Their opening act was Sharks, a hard-rock band with guitarist Chris Spedding and ex-Free bassist Andy Fraser.

On April 23, Roxy Music made their Continental debut in Modena, Italy. After a show in Montreux, Switzerland (4/29: Golden Rose Festival), they did a May five-city tour of Germany, followed by shows in Belgium and the Netherlands. On July 2, they played the “New York Festival” in York, England. This would be their last show with Brian Eno, who left Roxy Music due to Ferry’s dominant grip on the band.

Eno recorded his first solo album, Here Come the Warm Jets, in September 1973 with backing on select tracks by Manzanera, Mackay, Thompson, Spedding, MacCormick, Fripp, and then-Crimson bassist John Wetton. It features a mix of art pop and experimental rock indicative of what Roxy Music might have sounded like had Eno been involved in the songwriting. He followed this with the 1974–77 albums, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World, and Before and After Science.

Concurrently, Eno collaborated with Fripp on No Pussyfooting, an album of two side-long looping experiments released in November 1973 on Island–EG. They followed it with the 1975 release Evening Star.

Roxy Music hired Eddie Jobson, an eighteen-year-old keyboard and violin prodigy who recently got his break in Curved Air, which he joined for their fourth album Air Cut. Jobson played earlier in Fat Grapple, an unrecorded folk-rock act with ties to Stackridge. Roxy Music recorded their first album with Jobson in September 1973 at AIR Studios.

On October 14, Roxy Music embarked on a two-month round of UK and European dates with touring bassist Sal Maida, who subsequently formed Jet with Island-era Sparks sidemen. On the 19th, they played a multi-act event at Queens Hall in Leeds with Vinegar Joe, Stray, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, and newcomers Be-Bop Deluxe and Camel. Most dates featured opening slots by Leo Sayer, then in his Pierrot phase.


Bryan Ferry Solo

In October 1973, Bryan Ferry debuted as a solo artist with These Foolish Thing, an album of sixties covers released on Island. It features thirteen songs, including covers of The Rolling Stones, The Miracles, Four Tops, The Beach Boys, Erma Franklin, Lesley Gore, and The Beatles. He’s backed on the album by Jobson, Manzanera, and Thompson, plus trumpeter Henry Lowther and saxists from the Average White Band. Porter appears along with his Uncle Dog colleague, pianist David Skinner. The album spawned one single: a cover of the early Bob Dylan chesnut “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” backed with a non-album solo remake of the Roxy Music number “2HB.”

These Foolish Thing reached No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart. It entered the chart the same week as Pin Ups, an album of sixties freakbeat covers by David Bowie.

Porter continued to play in Ferry’s backing band but did not join Roxy Music as a permanent bassist. Along with Skinner, Lowther, and members of ARC, he backed singer Dana Gillespie on her 1974 release Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle.


Stranded

Roxy Music released their third album, Stranded, on November 1, 1973, on Island and Warner Bros. It features six songs by Ferry and a co-write apiece with Manzanera (“Amazona”) and Mackay (“A Song for Europe”).

Thomas produced the album in succession with 1973–74 titles by Badfinger, Procol Harum (Grand Hotel, Exotic Birds and Fruit), and Japanese art-rockers the Sadistic Mika Band (Black Ship). He plays uncredited bass on “Street Life.” Punter engineered Stranded between his work on Ferry’s first two solo albums. “Psalm” features the London Welsh Male Choir. “Sunset” features standup bass by Chris Laurence, a Mike Westbrook player who recently appeared on albums by Claire Hamill, Jackson Heights (Bump ‘N’ Grind), Neil Ardley (A Symphony of Amaranths), Norma Winstone, and Scott Walker.

Stranded is the first of three Roxy Music albums with Liverpudlian bassist John Gustafson (1942–2014), a veteran of sixties beatsters The Big Three who played in the organ-rock trio Quatermass. After session work with Shawn Phillips, he cut two albums in Hard Stuff (an Atomic Rooster spinoff) and played on titles by Ann Odell (A Little Taste) and Lynsey De Paul. He maintained a sixth-wheel status in Roxy Music, which toured this and subsequent albums with revolving bassists.

Stranded is housed in a gatefold with an outer photo-spread of 1973 Playmate of the Year Marilyn Cole, who lies damp in a tattered red dress on a jungle log (photographed inside a studio). On the inner-gates, the five members appear across a triplicated row with color-tinted face shots. Bob Bowkett of CCS is the credited artist on this and subsequent Roxy–Ferry titles. De Ville and Bowkett were also responsible for the geisha cover to Kimono My House, the 1974 breakthrough album by Sparks.

“Street Life” appeared on 7″ with the non-album b-side “Hula Kula,” a Hawaiian-style instrumental by Manzanera. It reached No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart. Stranded reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 14 in Norway. The album also went Top 40 in Australia, Germany, and New Zealand.


Solo Projects

In February 1974, Andy Mackay recorded his debut solo album, In Search of Eddie Riff. The original Island release features nine reed-laden instrumentals: four originals; three arrangements of soul, pop, and country hits; and to classical adaptations, including Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” He’s backed on select tracks by Jobson, Porter, Manzanera, and Thompson; as well as bassist Roger Glover, slide guitarist Lloyd Watson, Snafu pianist Brian Chatton, and Fairport percussionist Bruce Rowland. Eddie Riff was subsequently issued with an altered tracklist that includes Mackay’s 1975 remake of the surf classic “Wild Weekend.”

On February 20, Roxy Music played a one-off show in Boston, Massachusetts. They flew back to the states in late May for a week-long tour that covered Detroit, Cleveland, and New York, where they wrapped the tour on June 2 at the Academy of Music.

On July 5, 1974, Bryan Ferry released his second solo album, Another Time, Another Place, named after the 1958 British melodrama starring Sean Connery and Lana Turner. It features nine covers, including songs by Ike Turner (“Fingerpoppin”’) and Dobie Gray (“The ‘In’ Crowd”). Ferry wrote the title-track, the first original of his solo career. He’s backed on the album by O’List, Wetton, Lowther, Thompson, Porter (on guitar), as well as multiple brass players and four backing vocalists, including prolific session singer Liza Strike. Another Time, Another Place reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. “The ‘In’ Crowd” appeared as a single, backed with a non-album solo remake of the Roxy Music number “Chance Meeting.”

Roxy Music launched a 27-date UK tour on September 21, 1974, in Cardiff with bassist John Wetton, who was fresh off a stint with King Crimson that produced the albums Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. The tour included four-night engagements at the Rainbow Theatre in London and the Apollo in Glasgow, Scotland, with the Jess Roden Band.


1974: Country Life

Roxy Music released their fourth album, Country Life, on November 15, 1974, on Island and Warner Bros. It features six Ferry originals and two co-writes each by Manzanera (“Out of the Blue,” “Prairie Rose”) and Mackay (“Three and Nine,” “Bitter-Sweet”). “Casananova,” a raunchy side two number, originated months earlier during sessions for Ferry’s second solo album.

Sessions took place at AIR Studios in July–August 1974, who produced and engineered the album after working with Camel (Mirage) and Kevin Ayers. Country Life lists four assistant engineers, including musician–soundman Steve Nye, who also worked on 1974/75 albums by Be-Bop Deluxe (Axe Victim) and Nektar (Recycled). Gustafson’s ongoing role as Roxy Music’s studio bassist coincided with his slot in Ablution, a Swedish jazz-rock band with guitarist Janne Schaffer.

Country Life is housed in a single sleeve with a scantily clad shrubbery photo by Swedish fashion photographer Eric Boman. The two women are the German models Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald, respectively the sister and girlfriend of Can guitarist Michael Karoli. Ferry titled the album after the namesake British rural lifestyle magazine. Select US pressings have a censored cover with only the shrubbery.

“All I Want Is You” appeared as a single in Europe, Japan, and Oceania with the instrumental non-album b-side “Your Application’s Failed,” Thompson’s only songwriting credit. The single reached No. 12 in the UK. Roxy Music (sans bassist) mimed “All I Want Is You” on the Dutch music program TopPop. In the clip, an unusually casual Ferry lip syncs deadpan before the camera in a stiff, thumbs-in-pocket pose.

Country Life reached No. 3 in the UK, No. 8 in New Zealand, No. 10 in Austria, and No. 15 in Norway. The album also went Top 40 in Australia and Germany. In the US, where Atco lifted “The Thrill of It All” as a single, Country Life reached No. 38 on the Billboard 200.

Roxy Music promoted the album’s release with a nine-date tour of the Continent that included two shows in Germany (with Amazing Blondel) and three in Sweden, culminating with a November 27 show at the Palais des Congrès in Porte Maillot, France. In December, Manzanera, Thompson, and Porter backed Ferry on his three-city UK solo tour.


Phil Manzanera Solo, Quiet Sun

During the 1974–75 holiday season, Phil Manzanera booked time at Island studios, where he recorded his debut solo album Diamond Head. It features four instrumentals and five vocal tracks recorded with assorted musicians. Eno appears on five tracks, including the swelling side two opener “Miss Shapiro.” Jobson and Mackay each appear on three tracks; the penultimate “Lagrima,” the only track without Thompson, is a Manzanera–Mackay duet. Wetton, who plays bass on six tracks, sings co-lead on “Same Time Next Week” with Doreen Chanter of the ubiquitous Chanter Sisters. Robert Wyatt sings the opener, “Frontera.” Phil’s erstwhile Quiet Sun colleagues (Bill MacCormick, Dave Jarrett, Charles Hayward) appear on “East of Echo” along with Eno, Wetton, and a bagpipe player named “Ian McDonald” (aka Ian MacCormick, Bill’s brother — not the original Crimson keyboardist). Diamond Head appeared in April 1975 on Island–Atco.

With leftover studio time after the Diamond Head sessions wrapped, the briefly reassembled Quiet Sun recorded material they’d stockpiled during their original formation. The resulting album, Mainstream, appeared in 1974 on Island with two Manzanera instrumentals: the fiery, pyrotechnic “Sol Caliente” and the simmering “Trot.” The remainder consists of experimental jazz-rock and the oblique Hayward vocal piece “Rongwrong.” Eno is credited on the album with synthesizer, treatments, and “Oblique Strategies,” his flash-card creative method. Quiet Sun briefly toured the album before Manzanera reconvened with Roxy Music. Hayward and a late-arriving member, guitarist Gareth Williams, formed This Heat.

On February 15, 1975, Roxy Music launched a ten-date stateside tour at Irvine Auditorium in Philadelphia. In late April, they toured New Zealand and Australia’s east coast, where Manzanera befriended Split Enz, the cone-haired opening act for Roxy at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion. Their debut album, Mental Notes, appeared in Oceania that year on Mushroom Records. Phil kept in touch with the Kiwi band, intent on breaking them in the Northern hemisphere.

In July 1975, Bryan Ferry issued a standalone cover of the 1938 jazz-pop standard “You Go to My Head,” backed with a solo remake of the Roxy Music opener “Re-Make–Re-Model.”


1975: Siren

Roxy Music released their fifth album, Siren, on October 24, 1975, on Island and Warner Bros. Of the album’s nine songs, Ferry lone-wrote four, including the steamy, synth-laden “Both Ends Burning,” a song about time constraints. He collaborated with Mackay on two numbers: the funk-tinged opener “Love Is the Drug,” an ode to mid-seventies hookup culture; and “Sentimental Fool,” a smoldering epic in three parts.

Manzanera and Ferry co-wrote “Nightingale” and “Whirlwind,” an exuberant number with a churning, ringing riff reminiscent of “Prairie Rose.” Jobson co-wrote “She Sells,” the cabaret-tinged number that opens side two.

Sessions took place between June and September 1975 at AIR Studios with Thomas and Nye, who engineered the album with assistants Michael Sellers and Ross Cullum. Thomas produced Siren in succession with albums by Kokomo, Krazy Kat, and Kilburn and the High Roads.

Siren is housed in a blue-tinted single sleeve with Ferry’s then-flame, American model Jerry Hall, lounged Atlantean style (winged ankles, gold headpiece) on the rocks of South Stack, Anglesey. The photo was taken by Graham Hughes, the cousin of Who frontman Roger Daltrey. The Siren back cover features line sketches of each member against the sky-blue backdrop. Hughes also photographed the cover to Quadrophenia and 1974–76 albums by Colin Blunstone, Focus, Golden Earring, Robert Palmer, and Russ Ballard (Winning).

“Love Is the Drug” appeared one months prior to Siren as a single, backed with the non-album Ferry experiment “Sultanesque,” an electro-minimalist instrumental comprised of a wavy, enveloped drone set to a beat box. “Love Is the Drug” reached No. 2 in the UK, No. 3 in Canada, and No. 8 in the Netherlands. It also went Top 20 in Australia and Belgium. In the US, “Love Is the Drug” became Roxy Music’s highest chart entry, reaching No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 24 on the Cash Box Top 100.

Siren reached No. 4 in the UK, No. 8 in Sweden, and No. 9 in the Netherlands. The album also went Top 20 in Australia and Norway. Roxy Music preceded the album’s release with a sixteen-date October UK tour with the Sadistic Mika Band, who performed material from their Thomas-produced third album, the 1975 Harvest release Hot! Menu.

In November, Roxy Music did a brief North American jaunt with touch-downs in Washington DC (11/21: Lisner Auditorium) and Toronto (11/22–23: Massey Hall). They were backed on these dates by The Sirens, a backing vocal duo comprised of Doreen Chanter and Jacquie Sullivan, who recently sang on albums by Cat Stevens and Labi Siffre. Island issued a single-edit of “Both Ends Burning,” backed with a rare live version of “For Your Pleasure” from an October date at the Empire Pool Wembley.


1976: Viva!, First Split

In late January 1976, Roxy Music played two shows at the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden. Meanwhile, Mackay co-wrote and produced the soundtrack to ITV musical drama Rock Follies, a mini-series that ran six episodes between February 24 and March 30, 1976. The story follows three struggling West End actresses — Nancy “Q” Cunard (Rula Lenska), Devonia “Dee” Rhoades (Julie Covington), and Anna Wynd (Charlotte Cornwell) — who, at the behest of their musical director, form a vocal-rock trio dubbed the Little Ladies. After struggling on the bar circuit, they gain a new manager who transforms them into 1920s-style flappers and (in episode 6) 1940s-era bobbysoxers.

The Rock Follies soundtrack appeared on Island and Atlantic with twelve songs co-written by Mackay and lyricist–screenwriter Howard Schuman. It features a mix of sassy rockers (“Good Behavior”), dreamy ballads (“Lamplight”), period numbers (“Glenn Miller is Missing”), orchestral showtunes (“Stairway”), ABBA-esque Euro pop (“Sugar Mountain”), Brazilian-tinged jazz-pop (“Biba Nova”), and theatrical mini-epics like the steamy, swelling “Hot Neon,” a number from episode 4 where the trio perform in a softcore film. Mackay provides musical backing along with Chatton and guitarist–arranger Ray Russell. The soundtrack reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart and went Top 10 in Australia and New Zealand.

Mackay is also one of two guest saxophonists (along with Michael Brecker) on At the Sound of the Bell, the 1976 second album by St. Louis heroes Pavlov’s Dog. The album, recorded at London’s Ramport Studios, also features drummer Bill Bruford, between his stint with Wetton in King Crimson and their upcoming reunion in UK.

On February 13, Roxy Music commenced a nineteen-date US tour at Memorial Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. They covered the Northeast, Midwest, and California with outlier dates in Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana. Their touring bassist, Rick Wills, hailed from rustic-rockers Cochise and recently played in Peter Frampton‘s backing band. The tour wrapped on March 20 in Ohio at Defiance College Auditorium. This would be their last show for three years.

With Roxy Music on hold, Phil Manzanera produced Second Thoughts, the Northern hemisphere debut by Split Enz, who relocated to London that spring. It features a mix of new numbers and re-recorded songs from Mental Notes, including the surreal symphonic-rock epic “Stranger Than Fiction” and its cross-fade minuet “Time for a Change.” Sessions took place during April–May at Basing St Studios, where the septet was joined by violinist Miles Golding, an early member who now played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Second Thoughts first appeared in August 1976 in Oceania on Mushroom. In September, Chrysalis issued the album in the UK, where it was (confusingly) retitled Mental Notes with a modified cover from the 1975 album.

In May 1976, Ferry issued a cover of the 1962 R&B chestnut: “Let’s Stick Together,” originally by American pianist–singer Wilbert Harrison, who remade the song himself as the 1969 socially conscious two-parter “Let’s Work Together” (the basis of the hit 1970 cover by blues-rockers Canned Heat). In the video, a mustached Ferry and his backing band — Thompson (short hair), Willis (in lieu of Wetton, who plays on the recording), and Chris Spedding (fifties rocker look) — perform on a theatre stage, where they’re joined by Jerry Hall, who moves about seductively in a tiger dress. Saxophonist Mel Collins, heard prominently throughout the song, appears briefly outside the spotlight. The b-side is a Ferry solo version of the Roxy Music number “Sea Breezes,” rendered clean and sparse with enhanced vocal timber and a rockier guitar sequence. “Let’s Stick Together” reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.

Ferry followed that single with the July maxi-single Extended Play, which contains three sixties covers — “Shame, Shame, Shame” (Jimmy Reed), “The Price of Love” (Everly Brothers), and “It’s Only Love” (The Beatles) — and the recent Gallagher & Lyle number “Heart On My Sleeve.” One Sam Bertorelli wrote the liner notes to the 7″ EP, which features Wetton, Thompson, Jobson, Spedding, The Sirens, and Brand X percussionist Morris Pert. Chris Thomas co-produced this record just ahead of “Anarchy In the UK,” the debut single by the Sex Pistols.

In August 1976, Island issued Viva! Roxy Music, a 46-minute, eight-song live album culled primarily from their October 1974 shows at Newcastle City Hall, including a 10:37 version of “If There Is Something.” Two tracks (“Pyjamarama,” “Chance Meeting”) come from a November 1973 show at the Glasgow Apollo. The most recent track, “Both Ends Burning,” comes from the same show as the single version’s b-side. Viva! reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 15 in Australia.

Meanwhile, Manzanera formed 801, a super-group with Eno, MacCormick, Lloyd Watson, keyboardist Francis Monkman, and drummer Simon Phillips. Monkman hailed from the original lineup of Curved Air and played on albums by Renaissance and Al Stewart. Phillips hailed from the recent one-off Chopyn with Russell and Odell. In late August, the supergroup played the 1976 Reading Rock Festival, a three-day event with sets by A Band Called ‘O’, Automatic Fine Tuning, Back Door, The Enid, Gong, Mallard, Sassafras, Supercharge, and Sutherland Brothers & Quiver. Manzanera and 801 played on the second day (Saturday the 28th) along with Camel (plugging Moonmadness), Colosseum II, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Moon, Rory Gallagher, and Van Der Graaf Generator (performing material from Still Life).

In September, EG issued Let’s Stick Together, Bryan Ferry’s “third” solo album, comprised of the EP and two preceding singles; his 1973–74 Roxy Music covers (“2HB,” “Chance Meeting”); and his Another Time outtake recording of “Casanova.” Despite peaking just inside the UK Top 20, the album hit No. 1 in Australia and the Netherlands, besting all of Roxy’s placements in either territory up to that point.

In November, 801 Live appeared on Island and Polydor. It contains forty-six minutes of their September 3, 1976, set at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The set features three numbers from Diamond Head (“Lagrima,” “Diamond Head,” “Miss Shapiro”), one from Mainstream (“Rongwrong”), plus “East of Asteroid,” a combination of Phil’s “East of Echo” and Quiet Sun’s “Mummy was an Asteroid, Daddy was a Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil.” 801 Live also features one cut each from the first three Eno albums (“Baby’s on Fire,” “Third Uncle,” “Sombre Reptiles”) and covers of The Kinks (“You Really Got Me”) and The Beatles (“TNK [Tomorrow Never Knows]”). Later reissues add two further Eno numbers (“Fat Lady of Limbourg,” “Golden Hours”) from the Elizabeth Hall concert.


The New Wave of Roxy-like Acts

During 1976, the first wave of post-Roxy acts emerged. Metro, the project of Peter Godwin and veteran singer–songwriter Duncan Browne, released a self-tilted album of chic noire vignettes like “Criminal World,” “Mono Messiah,” “Black Lace Shoulder,” and the aptly titled “Paris.”

Deaf School, a vintage-attired Liverpudlian nine-piece led by smooth operator Enrico Cadillac, conjure inner-war scenery on “Cocktails at 8,” “Nearly Moonlit Night Motel,” “Snapshots,” and other hothouse escapades on their debut album, 2nd Honeymoon.

The Doctors of Madness, led by blue-haired Richard Strange, unleashed glacial subterranean concertos like “B-Movies Bedtime,” “Suicide City,” and “In Camera” on Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms and Figments of Emancipation, both anchored by the frenzied violin of Urban Blitz.

Ultravox, who drew equally from the seedy street flash of For Your Pleasure and the desolate landscapes of Another Green World, signed to Island that fall and recorded their debut album, including the frosty Eno co-production “My Sex.”

Common Roxy touchstones among new wave musicians include the moody Continental melodrama of “Song for Europe,” the steamy ambience of “Both Ends Burning,” the shivering whirlwinds of “Out of the Blue,” the fractious abandon of “Sea Breezes,” and the cybernetic jolt of “Remake–Remodel.”


1977: Separate Projects

In February 1977, Bryan Ferry released In Your Mind, his fourth solo album and third dedicated album project (given the compilation nature of Let’s Stick Together). Recorded as Roxy Music went on indefinite hold, In Your Mind is his first solo album of all-original material. It features backing by Manzanera, Thompson, Porter, Wetton, Spedding, Skinner, Pert, Mel Collins, The Sirens, and several new sidemen, including Elton John percussionist Ray Cooper and ex-Juicy Lucy guitarist Neil Hubbard. The album contains eight songs that range from buoyant blue-eyed soul (“All Night Operator,” “Rock of Ages”) to bold R&B (“This Is Tomorrow,” “Tokyo Joe”) with epic excursions on “In Your Mind” and “Love Me Madly Again,” which has a layered, bass-driven coda reminiscent of Stranded and Country Life.

Mackay reteamed with Schuman for the soundtrack to Rock Follies of ’77, the follow up season to ITV’s BAFTA-winning hit musical drama. In this second series, the Little Ladies initially back Stevie Streeter (Tim Curry), a theatrical glam-rocker who sabotages their act. His manager, Kitty Schreiber (Beth Porter), drops him and secures them a record deal, but producers isolate Dee as the best singer and have her do multi-tracked harmonies at Anna’s expense. A promo flood ensues but the single flops. Meanwhile, the girls face changing styles (punk rock) and internal tensions. Dee befriends Rox (Sue Jones-Davies), the singer in a likeminded Welsh group. While Anna falls into drug addiction, Dee grows more determined and brings Rox into the group, alienating Q. As the duo near their breakthrough, Dee mourns the loss of her two former friends.

Rock Follies of ’77 features less dialogue and more musical numbers. Sue Jones-Davies was part of the Bowles Bros Band, a male–female quartet that mixed forties vocal pop and Western swing on their 1978 album Rodger Buys a Fridge. Actress “Little” Nell Campbell, best known as Columbia in the The Rocky Horror Picture Show, plays Kitty’s platinum-haired assistant Sandra.

The first three episodes of Rock Follies of ’77 aired in May 1977 but an ITV strike delayed remaining broadcasts until late November. By then, Julie Covington had a No. 1 hit in the UK chart with “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” the theme from the 1976 concept album Evita by playwrights Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Rock Follies of ’77 soundtrack reached No. 13 on the UK Albums Chart. It features twelve songs that cover multiple styles, including showtune (“Follies of ’77”), disco (“Struttin’ Ground”), and lavish balladry (“Real Life”). “Loose Change” chronicles a grown woman who rejects her mother’s button-down propriety and her father’s miserly ways. “Jubilee” starts as a greeting to the Queen’s Silver Jubilee but turns into a punk-like broadside against monarchy in the face of high unemployment — an analog to the Pistols’ “God Save the Queen.” The album spawned a UK No. 10 hit with “OK?”, a sassy rocker with the brazen chorus “You want to do me… but I… don’t want… to be done.”

In September 1977, Phil Manzanera released his second solo album Listen Now, a release co-credited to 801 and often considered their sole studio album. It features Eno, Monkman, Phillips, the MacCormick brothers and a host of others, including Jobson, Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks, two members of Split Enz (Tim Finn, Eddie Rayner), and the duo of Kevin Godley & Lol Creme, who recently left 10cc. Listen Now features one interlude and eight lengthy songs, most co-written by Manzanera and the MacCormick’s. Overall, the album has a refined and soulful yet layered and spacey vibe akin to Cafe Jacques and the concurrent release I Robot by the Alan Parsons Project.

Manzanera also plays on two songs on Eno’s concurrent Before and After Science: the punkish “King’s Lead Hat” and the twangy “Here He Comes.”

To keep Roxy Music in the public eye, Atco issued Greatest Hits, a collection of their first five UK a-sides — “Virginia Plain,” “Pyjamarama,” “Street Life,” “All I Want Is You,” and “Love Is the Drug” — and the two For Your Pleasure tracks issued as a European single: “Do the Strand” and “Editions of You.” It also gathers popular album tracks from Stranded (“Mother of Pearl,” “A Song for Europe”) and Country Life (“Out of the Blue,” “The Thrill of It All”). Atco plugged this release with a 7″ pairing of the first two a-sides, “Virginia Plain” and “Pyjamarama,” both non-album tracks in their day. The single reached No. 11 in the UK.


1978: Separate Projects (cont.)

In the winter of 1977–78, Bryan Ferry recorded his fifth solo album, The Bride Stripped Bare, at Mountain Studios, Switzerland, and Atlantic Studios, NYC. It contains four originals: the raunchy, uptempo “Sign of the Times,” the string-laden melodrama “Can’t Let Go” (inspired by his recent breakup with Jerry Hall), the ivory chamber ballad “When She Walks in the Room,” and the dark, pensive epic “This Island Earth.”

Of the album’s six covers, “Carrickfergus” is an Irish traditional interpreted recently by 5 Hand Reel. “Take Me to the River,” a 1974 R&B hit by Al Green, was since covered by Foghat and (in 1978 alone) the subject of fellow versions by Talking Heads and Levon Helm. “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” by Memphis songwriter Roosevelt Jamison, was popularized in the mid-sixties by O.V. Wright and Otis Redding. The Isaac Hayes co-write “Hold On (I’m Coming)” was first popularized by Sam & Dave and given a steamy freakbeat rendition by Sharon Tandy, which inspired a similar 1978 version by ex-Deaf School co-singer Bette Bright. JJ Cale’s “The Same Old Blues” was covered two years earlier by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The Bride Stripped Bare appeared in September 1978 on EG. Ferry issued his cover of the Velvet Underground folk-rocker “What Goes On” as a single with an accompanying video in which the bearded, leather-clad singer walks up and down a blue-lighted flight of stairs. He lifted the album title from The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, a 1923 installation piece at the Philadelphia Museum of Art by French dadaist Marcel Duchamp. Ferry is backed on the album by Odell, Nye, Hubbard, and Collins. He also enlisted several new sidemen, including bassist Alan Spenner (Joe Cocker, Spooky Tooth, Limey), contrabassist Herbie Flowers (Hungry Wolf, Rumplestiltskin, Sky), and two ubiquitous American sessionmen: drummer Rick Marotta (Herbie Mann, John Tropea, Luther Vandross) and guitarist Waddy Wachtel (Chi Coltrane, Dianne Brooks, Peter Ivers). Wetton plays on “This Island Earth” with Gonzalez drummer Preston Heyman, who subsequently joined the backing band of Kate Bush.

That summer, Phil Manzanera released K-Scope, his third solo studio album. It features most of the same personnel as Listen Now, including the core 801 players and Rayner, Godley, and Creme, who all play instruments this time (having only done backing vocals last time). Creme plays his patented Gizmo invention while Rayner plays piano, Moog bass, Yamaha electric piano, and Yamaha CS80 synthesizer. Manzanera wrote or co-wrote the album’s ten songs apart from “Remote Control,” a frantic new wave rocker by Ian MacCormick, who co-wrote the funky “Hot Spot.” Tim Finn sings both songs, plus two Bill MacCormick co-writes: the reggaefied “Cuban Crisis” and the hard rocking “Slow Motion TV.” Tim’s younger brother Neil Finn, who joined Split Enz for their 1977 third album Dizrythmia, appears as a backing vocalist.

Andy Mackay released his second solo album, Resolving Contradictions, in late 1978 on Bronz. It contains eleven instrumentals inspired by Chinese culture, including “Battersea Rise,” “The Loyang Tractor Factory,” and “The Inexorable Sequence,” which features a Manzanera guitar solo. Thompson plays drums, gong, and timpani on the album, which features most of the same musicians as the Rock Follies soundtracks, including Russell, bassist Tony Stevens, and drummer Peter Van Hooke. Violinist Gavyn Wright (Penguin Cafe Orchestra) appears as a soloist. Andy’s wife Jane Mackay designed the cover, which depicts the saxophonist in a scenario reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.


New Wave Influence, Reformation

As the new wave proliferated, numerous newcomers plied different aspects of Roxy Music’s style. XTC — with their hiccuping vocals, boingy keyboards, and jerky rhythms — draw liberally from “Virginia Plain” and “Ladytron” on their first two albums, White Music and Go 2.

Magazine apply the luminous textures and ominous strains of Eno-era Roxy on tracks like “Definitive Gaze,” “My Tulpa,” “Burst,” and “The Light Pours Out of Me,” all found on their 1978 debut album Real Life.

Japan cross the trebly, buzzing stridency of early Roxy, Ultravox, and Magazine with elements of mid-seventies English funk-rock (Stretch, Bandit) and American R&B–funk (Ohio Players, Kool & the Gang) on their 1978 albums Adolescent Sex and Obscure Alternatives.

Siouxsie & the Banshees evoke the fractious tremors of “Sea Breezes” on “Mittageisen” (“Metal Postcard”), a tumbling Teutonic anti-rocker on their first album. The ethereal goth of their 1980/81 albums Kaleidoscope and Juju draws liberally from “Chance Meeting” and “In Every Dream Home a Heartache.”

Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army cross the space-age vibes of Roxy Music with the aerial gust and motoric churn of recent Hawkwind (Quark Strangeness and Charm) on their first album. Numan subsequently brought the Ultravox influence to a wider audience on his 1979/80 albums Replicas, The Pleasure Principle, and Telekon.

The Cars streamline the neon synths and rococo vocals of early Roxy on cuts like “I’m in Touch with Your World,” “Don’t Cha Stop,” “Night Spots,” and the ever-popular “Let’s Go” — examples heard on their 1978/79 albums The Cars and Candy O. Their third album, Panorama, fuses these traits with Numan’s cybernetic approach.

In late 1978, Ferry kick-started Roxy Music with Manzanera, Mackay, and Thompson, but not Jobson, whose then-involvement with Wetton in the supergroup UK produced the 1978/79 albums UK and Danger Money. The new Roxy hired three auxiliary players: keyboardist Paul Carrack (Warm Dust, Ace) and bassist Gary Tibbs (The Vibrators), who alternated the role with Bride Stripped bassist Spenner. Sessions on Roxy’s comeback album commenced that fall at Ridge Farm and Basing St Studios.


1979: Manifesto

Roxy Music released their sixth studio album, Manifesto, on March 16, 1979, on EG, Polydor, and Atco. Each side opens and closes with a lengthy jam: “Manifesto,” “Stronger Through the Years,” “Ain’t That So,” and “Spin Me Round” — all textural mood pieces composed by Ferry apart from the title-track, one of four Manzanera co-writes. The album spawned three singles, starting with “Trash,” a bouncy new wave number with clipped, icy organ and snaky oboe lines amid Ferry’s humored observations on the latest teen fads.

“Manifesto” is a dark, ominous jam (in A) dominated by droning keyboards, injected with sliding bass and neon synth. Halfway in, Ferry rolls out cryptic lyrics (“I am for a life around the corner that takes you by surprise”) in a warbly, demonic tone. With its heavy lurch and off-kilter post-punk feel, “Manifesto” resembles MacCormick’s then-current band, Random Hold, who conjure similar vibes on “What Happened,” “Precarious Timbers” (both on Etceteraville) and “With People (Out of Love).”

“Angel Eyes” is a raunchy rocker with guttural bass and a windy, wayward bridge. They recut the song for release as the album’s third single, which reached No. 4 on the UK Chart (b/w “My Little Girl”). The re-recorded “Angel Eyes” is a tight, uptempo dance number (in C) with sliding, throbbing bass and a slick rhythmic track. It echoes the sound Japan embraced on their 1979 single “Life in Tokyo” and upcoming third album Quiet Life. Harpist Fiona Hibbert, recently heard on records by Camel (“Elke” on Rain Dances) and Caravan, plays on this recording.

In the “Angel Eyes” video, Roxy Music perform on podiums in foggy, lavender–pink surroundings, accompanied by twin harpist angels. Each member dons unique articles: Ferry (lavender leather suit), Manzanera (yellow double-breasted jacket), Mackay (pastel blue suit), Thompson (white clown top), and Tibbs (pastel blue and pink). Phil colors the track with pinging tones and scratchy chords. The video ends with the two coiffed mannequins seen on the picture sleeve.  

In “Dance Away,” the singer spots a recent ex who looks more ravishing than ever… in the arms of another man. The song plunges from verse to chorus with no formal pivot, an indicator of the singer’s need to distract himself from the sad, awkward scenario. As the album’s middle single, “Dance Away” peaked at No. 2 during a fourteen-week UK chart run. Roxy Music mimed it on the Christmas ’79 broadcast of TotP. Ferry wrote the song during the making of In You Mind and almost included it on The Bride Stripped Bare. American jazz-funk pianist Richard Tee plays on this recording.

The vibe of Ferry’s recent solo work injects Manifesto on its two R&B numbers: “Still Falls the Rain,” a raunchy, percussive track with a prominent sax hook; and “Cry, Cry, Cry,” a fluid cut with a pounding, Stax-like harmonized chorus.

Stronger Through the Years” is a six-minute jam (in E) with sparse, echoing piano and pinched, wailing leads; underscored with staccato reeds, wandering bass, and a solid snare pattern.

“Ain’t That So” is an exotic piece with syncopated rhythms, fluid reeds, subdued keyboards, and lounge harmonies. Despite its vague touches of jazz and reggae, the song is sui generis. Ferry plays harmonica on the track, which presages later Roxy Music and his subsequent solo work.

“Spin Me Round” is a slow, after-hours excursion with fretless bass, faint sparkling keyboards, and ‘spinning’ guitar sounds — a lucid mixture jolted by Thompson, who drums against the current as the track unfolds.

Roxy Music self-produced Manifesto in the winter of 1978–79 with engineer Rhett Davies, an Eno soundman who’d worked with Ferry and Manzanera on their solo albums. Davies’ work on Manifesto followed his involvement with the 1978 debut album by Dire Straits and the second album by Talking Heads (More Songs About Buildings and Food, their first of three Eno-produced albums). Manifesto lists three assistant engineers, including Bride Stripped soundmen Jimmy Douglass and Randy Mason, who both worked recently with Chaka Khan, Foreigner, and Slave.

Photographer Neil Kirk took the Manifesto cover image, which shows confetti-showered, mannequin soirée attendees in ritzy attire designed by Antony Price. Kirk also photographed the cover of the debut album by The Tourists, a Eurythmics precursor that opened for Roxy Music on their May 1979 UK tour.

Manifesto reached No. 5 in the Netherlands and No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart. It also reached No. 8 in New Zealand and No. 13 in Australia. In the US, it became their highest-charting album at No. 23 on the Billboard 200. Roxy Music promoted its spring release with tours of Europe (with Wire) and the US. Tibbs appeared as Roxy’s fifth member in all Manifesto-related media (including the TotP segment of “Dance Away,” a track with Spenner’s bass). Ferry keyboardist David Skinner (not on Manifesto) appeared as their sixth member.

Before sessions began on the next Roxy Music album, Paul Thompson injured his thumb and left the band. He later drummed for Gary Moore, Concrete Blonde, and Oi! punks the Angelic Upstarts.


1980: Flesh + Blood

Roxy Music released their seventh studio album, Flesh + Blood, on May 23, 1980, on EG and Atco–Reprise. It features three Ferry–Manzanera co-writes (“Over You,” “No Strange Delight,” “Running Wild”) and covers of Wilson Pickett (“In the Midnight Hour”) and The Byrds (“Eight Miles High”). Ferry lone-wrote the remaining numbers, including “Same Old Scene,” “Oh Yeah” (both singles), “My Only Love,” and “Rain, Rain, Rain.” On this album and its followup, Roxy Music are a trio (Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay) with supplemental players.

“Over You,” a moderate slice of adult pop (in D) with a high-register vocal delivery, appeared as the lead-off single. “Oh Yeah,” a smooth ballad with a swelling, singalong chorus (“There’s a band playing on the radio”), appeared in July as the second single. Both songs reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart, accompanied with appearances on TotP.

“Same Old Scene” appeared as the third single and reached No. 12 in the UK. The video mixes studio footage of Roxy Music with monochrome scenes of Ferry ay his piano and slow-motion, fog-set inserts of him swaying in pencil leather suits. Tibbs appears in the video and the TotP segments despite not playing on the studio recordings. The b-side, “Lover,” is a non-album track that later appeared on the second Miami Vice soundtrack.

Sessions took place during winter 1979–80 in London (Basing St.) and Chertsey (Gallery Studios). Davies co-produced and engineered Flesh + Blood between his work with Camel (“Remote Romance”), After the Fire, Eye to Eye, The B-52’s, and Talking Heads (Remain In Light).

Roxy’s three remaining co-founders are backed by American drummer Allan Schwartzberg, a veteran sessionist whose recent credits included albums by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Garnet Mimms, Marlena Shaw, Mike Oldfield (Platinum), Peter Gabriel (“rainy windshield”), and  Rupert Holmes (Pursuit of Happiness). He drums on all but two tracks (“Flesh and Blood,” “My Only Love”), which feature ex-Sly & The Family Stone drummer Andy Newmark, who recently played on albums by Carolyne Mas, Dan Fogelberg, Gary Wright, and Patrick Moraz (Out In the Sun).

Bassist Neil Jason plays on three cuts (“Oh Yeah,” “Eight Miles High,” “No Strange Delight”), having recently appeared on albums by Hall & Oates (X-Static), Henry Gaffney, Lonnie Smith, and Narada Michael Walden (I Cry, I Smile). Tibbs, who cut a 1980 album with the LA rock trio Code Blue, plays bass on the Pickett cover. Later that year, he replaced (future Bow Wow Wow) bassist Leigh Gorman in Adam & the Ants and played on their 1981 release Prince Charming.

Spenner handles bass on the remainder of Flesh + Blood, which features rhythm guitar by Neil Hubbard on seven tracks. Carrack, whose contributions to Manifesto were unspecified, plays strings on “Oh Yeah” and keyboards on “Running Wild.” He launched his solo career at this time with the 1980 Vertigo release Nightbird, which features Newark and Spenner.

Flesh + Blood is housed in a single sleeve designed by Peter Saville with a three-quarter wraparound cover photo by Kirk. It shows three blond women (two on front, one on back) wielding javelins against a shady beige backdrop. The front model, Aimee Stephenson, appeared in a three-minute 1976 commercial for Route 66 Levis. Saville, an in-house designer for UK indie Factory Records, also designed sleeves for 1980 titles by A Certain Ratio, Fingerprintz, Joy Division (Closer), The Monochrome Set, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark (self-titled, Organization), and Section 25.

Flesh + Blood spent four non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart. It also reached No. 1 in New Zealand and went Top 10 in Australia, Benelux, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. In North America, it reached No. 12 in Canada and No. 35 on the Billboard 200.

Roxy Music promoted Flesh + Blood with a 37-date tour of Europe, starting on May 29, 1980, at La Rotonde in Le Mans, France. They played twenty German dates and shows in Denmark and Italy, but halted in Nice due to an illness that forced them to cancel dates in Spain and Portugal. In late July and August, they toured the UK with Canadian new wavers Martha + the Muffins.


1981: “Jealous Guy”

On February 13, 1981, Roxy Music released a cover of the John Lennon classic “Jealous Guy,” a emotional ballad recorded in honor of the slain ex-Beatle. It reached No. 1 in the UK and Australia and went Top 5 in Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, and Switzerland. They first performed the song in Germany, where they did a one-off show in Dortmund on December 19, 1980 — eleven days after Lennon’s death. The single’s picture sleeves note the recording as “a tribute.” The b-side, “To Turn You On,” is a Ferry original that reappeared on their next album.

In the “Jealous Guy” video, Ferry slumps in a light blue suit and pink tie amid constant zoom-ins on his facial expressions. Manzanera (black suit, blue tie) and Mackay (black blazer, teal tie) each appear for their solo spots.

In late 1981, Roxy Music convened in Nassau, Bahamas, where they started work on a new album at Compass Point Studios.


1982: Avalon

Roxy Music released their eighth studio album, Avalon, on May 28, 1982, on EG and Polydor. It features eight proper songs, mostly in the four-minute range, including “More Than This,” “Avalon,” and the Manzanera co-write “Take a Chance with Me,” all released as singles. Mackay co-wrote the two side-closers: “While My Heart Is Still Beating” and the instrumental postlude “Tara.” Ferry lone-wrote the remaining tracks, including “The Space Between,” “The Main Thing,” “True to Life,” and the interlude “India.” The pre-released “To Turn You On” appears in remixed form on side two.

Davies co-produced and engineered Avalon with four production assistants, including Ian Little, an assistant soundman on recent albums by Cliff Richard (Wire for Sound) and Yukihiro Takahashi. Little co-produced Manzanera’s 1982 instrumental solo album Primitive Guitars, released on EG.

Spenner plays bass on everything apart from “The Space Between,” “Take a Chance with Me,” and “True to Life,” which feature Neil Jason. Newmark plays on everything apart from “Tara” and “To Turn You On,” which features Carrack (fresh off his stint with Squeeze on East Side Story), cellist Kermit Moore, and drummer Rick Marotta, who also plays on 1982 albums by Diana Ross, Linda Clifford, and Peter Gabriel (Security). Session percussionist Jimmy Maelen plays on six cuts. American R&B session vocalist Fonzi Thornton backs Ferry on seven numbers. Haitian singer Yanick Étienne provides the prominent female voice on “Avalon.”

Saville designed the Avalon cover, which has a medieval-themed photo by Kirk. It shows the backshot of a shadowy helmeted warrior with a silhouetted bird overlooking cloudy scenic lowlands. The warrior is portrayed by a woman, British model Lucy Helmore, Ferry’s then-fiance. Saville also designed 1982 sleeves for Midge Ure, Ultravox (Quartet), Visage, and Zaine Griff.

Avalon reached No. 1 in the UK, Oceania, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. It also went Top 5 in France, Germany, and Austria. Though it peaked at No. 53 on the Billboard 200, it sold steadily over the years and eventually received Platinum certification by the RIAA.


1983: The High Road

In March 1983, Roxy Music released The High Road, a live EP with four numbers from their September 30, 1982, show at the Glasgow Apollo. It features renditions of “Jealous Guy” and one song each from Flesh + Blood (“My Only Love”) and Ferry’s last solo album The Bride Stripped Bare (“Can’t Let Go”), plus a cover of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane,” a staple of their Avalon tour.


Studio Discography:


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1 thought on “Roxy Music

  1. First draft (2018):
    1972-73: The Eno Years

    “Roxy Music’s first album is a primitive yet ambitious offering on which lavish arrangements are corrupted with sonic dissonance. Songs like “Remake/Remodel” and “Sea Breezes” typify the melodic/fractious dichotomy, which the band rendered in compact form on the album’s followup single “Virginia Plain.”

    Emerging at the height of rock’s embrace of pre-modernity, the band forged a decidedly post-Victorian aesthetic that mixed inner-war and space-age visuals with an alternately lavish/ominous sound, crossing lines between maximalism and minimalism.

    On 1973’s sophomoric For Your Pleasure, the manic qualities of the debut are tempered with a stylized flamboyance while the band’s ominous leanings are given higher relief; a contrast shone by the theatrical camp of “Do the Strand” and the foreboding nature of “In Every Dream Home a Heartache.”

    The Jobson Trilogy: 1973–1975

    Shortly after the second album’s release, Eno left Roxy Music to launch a solo career. Replacing him was 18-year-old violin/keyboard prodigy Eddie Jobson, who arrived fresh from a stint with Curved Air, where he briefly deputized the role of Darryl Way.

    The newcomer’s classical leanings are instantly felt on Roxy’s third album, Stranded (1973), which combs out the dissonance of prior releases while illuminating the band’s alternately romantic/decadent approach with cleaner production and tighter musicianship. The theatrical swagger of “Street Life” fortified Ferry’s metropolitan personae, while the longing melodrama of “A Song for Europe” instilled Continental sensibilities into thousands of young, chic aspirants.

    Roxy Music’s newfound elegance reached its apex on Country Life (1974), where Ferry’s jet-setting croon is both propelled and provoked amidst the heady sweep of some of the band’s best-loved material, including the signature numbers “Out of the Blue” and “The Thrill of It All.”

    The trajectory culminated in transatlantic triumph with 1975’s Siren, which hears Roxy crank the sonic heat on numbers like “Sentimental Fool” and “Both Ends Burning” while “Love Is the Drug” bespoke the carnal quest in the age of urban anonymity.

    Initial Breakup

    After promotions wrapped for Siren, the members got consumed with outside projects and Roxy Music informally folded. The 1973–75 live document Viva! Roxy Music appeared in mid-1976 to assuage public demand as Ferry focused on his solo career and Mackay wrote and produced the soundtrack to Rock Follies: a 1976 UK television drama about the fictionalized exploits of real-life singers Charlotte Cornwell, Julie Covington, and Rula Lenska. The success of the series and its soundtrack spawned a followup, Rock Follies of ’77. The saxist followed these efforts with the 1978 solo LP Resolving Contradictions.

    Meanwhile, Manzanera reformed his pre-Roxy quartet Quiet Sun to dust off material for the 1975 release Mainstream. Concurrently, he launched a solo career with the Island release Diamond Head, followed by the 1977/78 titles Listen Now! and K-Scope. The last two feature contributions from Lol Creme in addition to Tim Finn and Eddie Rayner of Split Enz. Manzanera served as the Kiwi septet’s initial UK liaison and produced their Northern Hemisphere debut, Second Thoughts (1976).

    Second Coming: 1979–1982

    Roxy Music regrouped in late-1978, this time with ex-Vibrators bassist Gary Tibbs. Tempering their earlier dissonance, the band premiered a smoother sound on 1979’s Manifesto. The band further refined itself for the following releases Flesh and Blood (1980) and Avalon (1982). After promotions for the latter wrapped the following year, Roxy folded on a purportedly permanent basis, only to regroup for sporadic touring during the 21st century.

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