Roxy Music's early lineup. Left to right: Brian Eno, Andy MacKay, Bryan Ferry, Paul Thompson, and Phil Manzanera.
Roxy Music was a British art rock/Glam Rock
band in The Seventies
and The Eighties
, known mainly for being a significant influence on Punk Rock
and New Wave
and being the band where musician and knob-twiddler extraordinaire Brian Eno
started his professional career. It had the following members:
- Bryan Ferry - vocals, keyboards (1971-1983)
- Phil Manzanera - guitar (1972-1983)
- Andy MacKay - saxophone, oboe (1971-1983)
- Brian Eno - synthesizer, "treatments", Record Producer, backing vocals (1971-1973)
- Paul Thompson - drums (1971-1980)
- Eddie Jobson - synthesizer, violin (1973-1976)
- Graham Simpson - bass (1971-1972)
Roxy Music's early material was definitely art rock, defined by the ironic juxtaposition of nostalgia for the past (manifested in Ferry's lyrical and vocal Campiness
) and futuristic, avant-garde experimentalism (Eno's "treatments", Manzanera and MacKay's predisposition towards atonality) within the context of rock music. This early lineup produced two critically acclaimed albums, Roxy Music
and For Your Pleasure
. These albums also introduced two other constant elements throughout the band's career: pop art-influenced "high fashion" album covers depicting scantily-clad models, and a well-defined visual presentation (see above).
However, the creative tension soon degenerated into outright conflict, and Eno left the band in 1973, taking all the jarring weirdness, experimentalism, make-up and freaky glam outfits with him. He was replaced by 19-year old keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson. Roxy Music afterwards slowly but surely evolved into a more straightforward pop/glam rock band but with still some unpredictability, largely defined by Ferry
's obsession with glamour and suave, Chivalrous Pervert
persona. The band handled this transition very well at first, increasing their popularity and gaining several hit singles while obtaining further good reviews for Stranded
, Country Life
. The band went on an extended hiatus in 1976 after touring for Siren
, with Ferry taking the opportunity to concentrate on his solo albums, while Manzanera rejoined Eno for the 801 Live
When Roxy reunited in 1978, Jobson wasn't brought on board and Ferry took up keyboard duties again. The band changed its sound again, stripping any last remnants of their experimental art rock past in favour of super-smooth disco-influenced pop. The resulting albums, Manifesto
and Flesh + Blood
, garnered the band negative reviews for the first time in their career and didn't do much on the charts apart from a few hit singles. Thompson himself left the band after Flesh
, initially temporarily after a motorcycle accident then permanently, due to his dislike of the band's new musical direction.
Marred by the departures and the critical drubbing they received, Roxy Music regrouped with the aid of additional session players and recorded what would be their last album, Avalon
. More carefully recorded than the hit-or-miss Manifesto
and containing lushly-produced lounge-synth-pop soundscapes far removed from their art-rock roots (in fact, probably closer to Sade
's smooth pop than Eno's weirdness), Avalon
restored the band's good standing with critics and did way better on the charts, spawning a hit single. Having recovered their success, Roxy Music dissolved on a high note.
Ferry returned to his solo career, picking up where he left off with Avalon
and recording more smooth lounge-synth-pop, to great commercial success and reasonable critical acclaim. Manzanera and MacKay went on to solo careers and formed a short-lived band called The Explorer. Thompson worked as a session drummer.
Roxy Music reformed in 2001, sans Eno, and have been touring regularly since. They also recorded material for a new album with Eno, but these sessions were reworked into Ferry's 2010 solo album, Olympia
- Roxy Music (1972)
- For Your Pleasure (1973)
- Stranded (1973)
- Country Life (1974)
- Siren (1975)
- Manifesto (1979)
- Flesh + Blood (1980)
- Avalon (1982)
- Album Title Drop: Stranded is derived from a line at the end of the first track, "Street Life."
- Aloha Hawaii: "Hula Kula," the B-Side to "Street Life." Arguably a case of Shown Their Work as Phil Manzanera spent part of his childhood in Hawai'i.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Bryan would do anything for his lady. That means he would climb mountains, swim across oceans, walk a thousand miles, expose his deepest secrets, and sit in the garden growing potatoes by the score.
- Bawdy Song + Intercourse with You = A lot of their songs, and Ferry's chief preoccupations.
- Camp: They knowingly embraced this.
- Camp Straight: Bryan Ferry.
- Though Ferry intentionally styled himself like a 1940s romantic crooner with an eccentric side, with more than a bit of James Bond influence, as evidenced by the cover of his solo album "Another Time, Another Place".
- Contemptible Cover: All of them, except Avalon. Special mention goes to Country Life, which features two German female fans of the band in semi-transparent lingerie standing in a forest. Doubles as a sort of Hey, It's That Guy! since one of the girls on the cover is Michael Karoli's sister Constanze.
- Maybe not contemptible, but Ferry's then-Real Life girlfriend Jerry Hall provides Fanservice as a butt-nekkid mermaid on the Siren cover.
- Costume Porn
- The Dandy: Ferry, again.
- Greatest Hits: Many.
- Ho Yay: Ferry deliberately invoked this on his solo recording of "It's My Party", where he left the lyrics the same as they were when sang by a female - ie his boyfriend Johnny. He said he left this in on purpose to appeal to the band's gay fanbase.
- Iconic Outfit: Ferry's suits, Eno's outlandish costumes, Phil Manzanera's sunglasses.
- Jekyll & Hyde: "Still Falls the Rain"
- Ladykiller in Love: Ferry often adopted this pose in his lyrics.
- Large Ham: Bryan Ferry. On every song, but especially "Do The Strand".
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: 2012's The Complete Studio Recordings, released to celebrate the band's 40th Anniversary. The release compiles everything the band recorded bar the live album Viva!. This includes a 2 disc set of non-album tracks which has several tracks that had never appeared on CD. In addition to featuring superb packaging (replicating the original vinyl releases almost exactly), the tracks themselves are musically identical to the original vinyl releases as well, as they are flat transfers from the original tapes (ie not tampered with.) Aside from a strangely muted sounding mix of Virginia Plain, this set might be one of these Deluxe Box Set releases to actually fulfil their potential.
- Love Is A Drug: "Love is the Drug"
- New Sound Album: Stranded, Manifesto, Avalon.
- 'For Your Pleasure' was a notable example as well. The tracks on the band's self-titled debut often had long introductions, which some people had criticised. The band took note of this and started the album with a jolt - 'Do The Strand' starts immediately on Ferry's first line.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Note that the bass guitarist is not pictured above.
- Recursive Reality: They're playing "Oh Yeah" on the radio...
- Song Style Shift: In reverse for "Mother of Pearl."
- Titled After the Song: The band Ladytron are named after the song on Roxy Music's first album.