[Review] Roxy Music: Manifesto (1979)

Roxy Music returns, sort of, for what more or less amounts to a solo Ferry/Roxy hybrid.

Kronomyth 8.0: Mannequinfesto.

First, to the munificent prog gods who gave us a Roxy Redux: danke schon, babies. Now, for the inevitable grumbling. This isn’t exactly the way I remembered it. I mean, yes, it was all headed down a very-very-oh-so-slightly disco path with Siren, and alles vas unter grupenfuhrer Ferry since the Ides of No When, but Dance Away?

The new Roxy Music sounded something like the old Roxy Music split in half: strange on the East Side, seductive on the West Side. (The album is broken into an East and West side, which suggests the band was broken into two camps, and maybe they were.) The opening Manifesto starts out as a weird instrumental and then gets an intentionally flat and sour reading from Bryan Ferry. As it turns out, the title track is more of a red herring than a red revolution. The egalitarian opener, in fact, shows that musical communism doesn’t work.

Under a charismatic leader from the West like Ferry, well, Manifesto is a different story. Tracks like Spin Me Round, Ain’t That So and “Dance Away” are a sigh of the things to come on Avalon; romantic confections wrapped in gossamer dreams. More problematic are the Eastern blocks, which haunt the record like bogus meniatures. Of these, Trash is by far the tastiest, the kin of such kinetic keepers as “Pyjamarama” and “Street Life.”

The dark musings were missing on their next album, Flesh + Blood, so Manifesto shouldn’t be seen as a complete sell-out. Rather, it’s a partially successful attempt to finally fuse the two sides of Bryan Ferry (art rocker/romantic) on a single spin. What you end up with is basically In Your Mind in the mode of Roxy Music, but it still managed to be one of the year’s better albums.

Original elpee version

A1. Manifesto (Bryan Ferry/Phil Manzanera) (5:30)
A2. Trash (Bryan Ferry/Phil Manzanera) (2:13)
A3. Angel Eyes (Bryan Ferry/Andy Mackay) (3:32)
A4. Still Falls the Rain (Bryan Ferry/Phil Manzanera) (4:11)
A5. Stronger Through the Years (Bryan Ferry) (6:13)
B1. Ain’t That So (Bryan Ferry) (5:39)
B2. My Little Girl (Bryan Ferry/Phil Manzanera) (3:18)
B3. Dance Away (Bryan Ferry) (3:45)
B4. Cry, Cry, Cry (Bryan Ferry) (2:54)
B5. Spin Me Round (Bryan Ferry) (5:12)

The Players

Bryan Ferry (keyboards, vocals, harmonica), Andrew Mackay (oboe, saxophone), Phil Manzanera (guitars), Paul Thompson (drums) with Paul Carrack (keyboards), Alan Spenner (bass), Gary Tibbs (bass). Produced by Roxy Music; engineered by Phill Brown, Rhett Davies, Jimmy Douglass, Randy Mason.

The Pictures

Cover by Bryan Ferry, Antony Price, Neil Kirk, Sally Feldman & Cream.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track n March 16, 1979 in the UK (Polydor, POLH 001/POLHC1), the US (Atco, SD/TP 38-114), Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand (Polydor, 2310 651), Canada (Atco, KSD 38-114), Germany (Polydor, 2344 129, 3100 493) and Japan (Polydor, MPF-1226) with lyrics innersleeve. Reached #7 on the UK charts and #23 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on picture disc elpee in the UK (Editions EG, EGPD 001).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in January 1987 in the UK (EG, EGCD-38).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in September 1989 in the US (Reprise, 26046).
  4. Re-released on limited edition, remastered high-definition compact disc on November 1, 1999 in the UK (Virgin, ROXYCD7).
  5. Re-issued on compact disc in March 2000 in the US (Virgin, 47458).
  6. Re-issued on limited edition, remastered HDCD on September 10, 2001 in the UK (EMI, 847 347) and in 2001 in Japan (Virgin, TOCP-65828).
  7. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Virgin, VJCP-68827).

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