[Review] Roxy Music (1972)

Roxy’s fashionable first defined the art-rock movement and featured a sense of high camp that belied the serious musical artistry underneath.

Kronomyth 1.0: Roxy’s re-markable debut.

Roxy Music started out by subverting rock & roll’s classic stereotypes: the romantic vocals, the guitar/sax solos, the predictable arrangements. Their debut is contrived to be confrontational, which is perhaps why this music was tagged as art rock. Pop art is probably the better term, since Roxy Music clearly delights in twisting mundane musical devices into works with much wider implications.

At the center of this musical storm is Bryan Ferry, his voice oddly affecting in its mix of parody and pathos, the lone straight man in a mob of musical comedians. Whether he’s affecting the pose of the slick Casanova on “Ladytron” or the desperate lover with nothing left to lose on “If There Is Something,” Ferry remains the focal point. Saxophones squeak from the corners, synthesizers swirl under the surface, guitars spike out from the speakers, and through it all Ferry stands firm, aware that the cacophony is right on cue.

Personally, this is one of my favorite Roxy Music albums; they weren’t holding anything back here, from the kitchen sink approach of “The Bob (Medley)” to the grotesque solos of “Re-make/Re-model.” Yet their debut is a prickly pear compared to some of their later albums; even the most romantic moments have a certain gothic chill to them, like Phil Manzanera’s bone-rattling guitar on “Chance Meeting” or the pale atmosphere generated by Eno on “2 H.B.” Imagine a crooner lost in the chaos of Limbo, where spatial relationships are distorted and emotions unreasonably intensified, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of the first Roxy Music album.

[Note that the US versions and later reissues appended the single “Virginia Plain” to this record, the sort of succinct and sped-up raver that found wider commercial success with rock fans.]

Read more Roxy Music reviews

Original elpee version

A1. Re-Make/Re-Model (5:10)
A2. Ladytron (4:21)
A3. If There Is Something (6:33)
*A4. Virginia Plain (2:50)
A5. 2 H.B. (4:30)
B1. The Bob (Medley) (5:48)
B2. Chance Meeting (3:00)
B3. Would You Believe? (3:47)
B4. Sea Breezes (7:00)
B5. Bitters End (2:02)

All songs by Bryan Ferry. Arranged by Roxy Music.
* Track not included on UK elpees.

The Players

Eno (synthesizers and tapes), Bryan Ferry (voice and piano), Andrew Mackay (oboe and saxophone), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Graham Simpson (bass guitar), Paul Thompson (drums) with Rik Kenton (bass guitar on “Virginia Plain”). Produced by Peter Sinfield; engineered by Andy Hendriksen.

The Pictures

Cover concept by Bryan Ferry. Art by Nicholas deVille. Photography by Karl Stoecker. Artwork by C.C.S. Clothes, make-up and hair by Anthony Price. Model: Kari-Ann Muller. Kari-Ann’s hair by Smile.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in June 1972 in the UK (Island, ILPS-9200) and the Netherlands (Island, 86 259 IT) and in October 1972 in the US (Reprise, MS-2114) with gatefold cover; reached #10 on the UK charts (certified gold record in the Netherlands).

  1. Re-issued on elpee in June 1976 in the US (Atco, SD 36-133) with 1 bonus track.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in February 1977 in the UK (Polydor, 2302 048) with gatefold cover.
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in the UK (EG/Virgin, EGCD 6) and the US (Reprise, 26039).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in Germany (EG/Polydor, 821 522-2).
  5. Re-issued on elpee in the UK (Virgin, LPCENT37).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc in March 2000 in the US (Virgin, 47447).
  7. Re-released on remastered compact disc on August 27, 2001 in the UK (Virgin, 847 448) and on October 3, 2001 in Japan (Toshiba, TOCP-656822).

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