[Review] Bryan Ferry: Taxi (1993)

The appearance of “Amazing Grace” might suggest Bryan had reached the bottom of the barrel, but he wisely covers himself with top-notch production.

Kronomyth 8.0: Avalounge.

Welcome to Avalounge (population: you). So what are you still doing here after all these years? Surely you’ve gleaned all you can from the bard’s bitter musings, so why the desire to stay in these desolate lowlands? Because some folks get stirred up by this stuff, got stirred by Roxy Music really, and the rest of their life is spent looking for just another high.

Taxi is a cover album (the closing “Because You’re Mine” is an original), and so critics dredge up all their past prejudices when describing this album. Frankly, I’ve never seen a critic bother to differentiate between the cover albums, and Taxi is in fact a Ferry of a very different sort. Beginning with Bête Noire, a Bryan Ferry disc took pains to set the tone in the opening moments. It’s shallow into “I Put A Spell On You” that you sense what’s up his sleeve: an album of covers played from his present ‘90s perspective. Honestly, if half of these tracks weren’t already familiar, you’d just assume this was the new disc from Bryan.

The trouble I had with some of his solo work was a sense that musical development went on hiatus when the covers came out, but not so here. To my eyes, I see a logical bridge between Bête Noire and Mamouna. It’s a little more playful than those efforts, including funky treatments of “Amazing Grace” (it’s better than you think) and “Answer Me.” The choices are unusual this time, from the old Velvet’s track “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (now Bryan and Nico would have been a pair for the ages) to the title track (an R&B hit for J. Blackfoot in the early ‘80s). Perhaps that diminishes the nostalgia quotient, which is fine with me.

I don’t look to someone as subversive as Ferry to protect the past, and I don’t think the old heroes need a new coat of paint. Honestly, the new material haunts the same familiar places anyway, so what’s the difference if Ferry pilfers from Elvis’s songbook or from Elvis by way of Roxy? I like the original material a little better (more surprises, more freedom), so follow Mamouna and Bête Noire first, but catch up with Taxi eventually.

The Songs

1. I Put A Spell On You (Jay Hawkins) (5:27)
2. Will You Love Me Tomorrow (Gerry Goffin/Carole King) (4:17)
3. Answer Me (Gerhard Winkler/Fred Rauch/Carl Sigman) (2:46)
4. Just One Look (Doris Troy/Gregory Carroll) (3:32)
5. Rescue Me (Raynard Miner/Carl Smith (3:40)
6. All Tomorrow’s Parties (Lou Reed) (5:33)
7. Girl of My Best Friend (Beverly Ross/Sam Bobrick) (3:25)
8. Amazing Grace (traditional arr. by Bryan Ferry) (4:02)
9. Taxi (Homer Banks/Charles Brooks) (5:31)
10. Because You’re Mine (Bryan Ferry) (1:44)

Japanese CD Bonus Track
11. Are You Lonesome Tonight?

The Players

Bryan Ferry (vocals, piano, strings, synths, organ, witch, Ben Nevis), Carleen Anderson (vocals), Michael Brook (atmos guitar, lead guitar, infinite guitar), Nathan East (bass), Steve Ferrone (drums), Neil Hubbard (guitar, probe guitar, trace guitar, lead guitar, licks guitar), Richard T. Norris (programming), Greg Phillinganes (vibes, strings, synthesizer, harp), Robin Trower (Fender, wah wah, theme guitar, pin guitar, pocket guitar, space guitar), David Williams (rhythm guitar, hook, cat) with Mel Collins (tenor sax on 5), Mike Giles (drums  on 9), Luis Jardim (percussion), Flaco Jimenez (accordion on 8), Andy Mackay (alto sax on 9), Andy Newmark (drums on 9), Maceo Parker (alto sax on 1), Steve Pearce (bass on 2), David Sancious (Hammond on 8), Chris Stainton (Hammond on 4). Produced by Bryan Ferry & Robin Trower; engineered by Richard T. Norris and Sven Taits; mixed by Bob Clearmountain.

The Pictures

Photography by Anton Corbijn. Art direction by Nick De Ville and Bryan Ferry.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, compact disc and cassette on April 13, 1993 in the UK (Virgin, V/CDV/TCV 2700), the US (Reprise, 45246) and Europe (Virgin, 86998); reached #2 on the UK charts and #79 on the US charts.

  1. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 1993 in Japan (TOCP-53306) with one bonus track.
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1999 in the UK (Virgin, FERRYCD8).
  3. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2000 in Europe (EMI, 847712).

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