Roxy Music: “Virginia Plain” (1972)

There was nothing plain vanilla about Roxy Music’s first, glamorous single.

Kronomyth 1.1: Sheer, chic redemption.

There are a few bands whose first singles perfectly encapsulate everything that was right and unique about them: “Break on Through” (The Doors), “Just What I Needed” (The Cars), “Rock Lobster” (The B-52s) and, of course, Virginia Plain. Originally released as a non-album single after their debut album (and subsequently appended to the U.S. edition), “Virginia Plain” sums up everything that was special and wonderful about Roxy Music, from Bryan Ferry’s vocals and Brian Eno’s bizarre synthesizers to the otherworldy oboe and guitar. It’s like a three-minute musical manifesto of everything that the first incarnation of Roxy Music embodied.

The B side, the tantalizingly titled The Numberer, is an instrumental from Andy Mackay that mixes traditional rock & roll saxophone with Eno’s electronic absurdities. It’s something of a throwaway as Roxy Music songs go, but interesting for its fearlessness and tastelessness. In the mid-Seventies, “Virginia Plain” charted again when it was paired with the delightful “Pyjamarama.”

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Virginia Plain (Bryan Ferry) (2:50)
B1. The Numberer (Andy Mackay) (3:30)

Back-to-back hits 7-inch single reissue (1975)
A1. Virginia Plain (Bryan Ferry) (2:50)
B1. Do the Strand (Bryan Ferry) (4:00)

B2B hits 7-inch single reissue (1977)
A1. Virginia Plain (Bryan Ferry) (2:57)
B1. Pyjamarama (Bryan Ferry)

The Players

Produced by Peter Sinfield; engineered by Andy Hendriksen.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on August 4, 1972 in the UK (Island, WIP-6144) and France (Island, 6138 021) and in October 1972 in the US and Canada (Reprise 1124) with regional picture sleeve. Reached #4 on the UK charts. (*First mentioned in 11/4/72 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-released with “Do the Strand” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in 1975 in the US (Warner Bros., GWB 0316).
  2. Re-released with “Pyjamarama” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in October 1977 in the UK, Austria and the Netherlands (Polydor, 2001 739) with picture sleeve. Reached #11 on the UK charts.

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