Friday, April 29, 2011

Roxy Music-For Your Pleasure

Originally Written and Posted at on 6/10/09.

The release of Roxy Music's 1972 self-titled debut album that featured the single Virginia Plain was a huge surprise hit for the band at a time when glam rock was ruling the charts. Yet, the band's unique look into the glam rock scene made them part of the movement as it was led by its songwriter/vocalist Bryan Ferry. Along with guitarist Phil Manzanera, saxophonist Andy Mackay, drummer Paul Thompson, and keyboardist Brian Eno. The band's debut album was clearly raised their profile as they were getting attention for their unconventional art-rock/glam rock sound as well as their lavish look. After a tour supporting the record in their native Britain, the band returned to the studio in early 1973 to make their second album with a new producer in Chris Thomas, a man who would be one of their key collaborators in the years to come.

Produced by Chris Thomas, John Anthony, and Roxy Music with songs written by Bryan Ferry. For Your Pleasure is an album that takes the band's sound from their debut album to broader territory in terms of its production and experimentation. With songs dealing with sex, romance, and other themes. Featuring John Porter playing bass on the album, the album would be the last record that would feature original keyboardist Brian Eno whose experimental work with tapes, synthesizers, and other electronic devices would help add a dose of adventure into the record. The result would be one of rock's most daring records of its time.

The album opener Do The Strand, a song that is about a new dance craze led by a striking, upbeat piano performance by Bryan Ferry as he sings in his crooning vocal. With Paul Thompson's upbeat, charging drums with Phil Manzanera's guitar and Andy Mackay's wailing saxophone. The song features some quirky lyrics and an intensity that drives the song with Ferry's playful vocals as it also features a brief, instrumental break by its guitars and saxophones along with Eno's shimmering noise treatments. Beauty Queen opens with Eno's warbling synthesizer track that becomes a smooth, mid-tempo track with Thompson's and John Porter's swooning rhythm and Eno's keyboards. With Ferry's crooning vocals taking charge, the song is an ode to the beauty queens of the world in all of its playfulness. The song's tempo picks up a bit with its wailing sounds of noisy guitars and synthesizers as it squeals through the song for its instrumental section.

Strictly Confidential opens with sounds of a low, baritone saxophone sound and an oboe as it accompanies Ferry's cabaret-style vocals. Thompson's drums starts to appear for this smooth, low-tempo ballad of sorts with swooning keyboard melodies playing to Ferry's vocals filled with dramatic lyrics. With Manzanera's wailing guitar plays along to the song's moody presentation, it's a song that delves into atmosphere as it shows the band's ability to be adventurous. Editions Of You starts off with a playful keyboard solo that leads the charging, upbeat track with driving guitars, hard-hitting drums, and striking keyboards. With Ferry's playful crooning vocals filled with salacious lyrics about women and their identities. The song is a full-on jam of experiments from Mackay's wailing saxophones to Eno's squealing synthesizers.

In Every Dream Home A Heartache is a dark, eerie track featuring haunting keyboards, melodic guitar swirls, and Ferry's soothing yet seductive vocals with lyrics about a blow-up doll in all of its description. At five-and-a-half minutes, it's a song that's about atmosphere as each word plays up to its creepy tone. After three minutes of its trance-like presentation, drums appear for this dramatic yet intense jam of guitars, drums, and synthesizers as it would fade-out only to reappear due to Eno's treatments on tape machines. The nine-minute, twenty-one second The Bogus Man is an experimental suite with John Porter's bouncy bass line and Paul Thompson's steady drum beat. With Eno's wailing noises of synthesizer squeals and Mackay's soothing saxophone wails, it's a song that is truly experimental as it features Ferry singing in some falsetto vocal styles. With its creepy, idiosyncratic lyrics, it's a song that shows the band being adventurous as it features Manzanera playing some swanky guitars as it maintains a steady presentation.

Grey Lagoons is a playful, mid-tempo song with Ferry's flourishing piano accompanying his crooning vocals. With a bouncy rhythm led by Thompson's drums and Porter's bass, it's a song that starts out smoothly as it includes Manzanera's drums and Ferry's vocals filled with playful, quirky lyrics as the tempo changes to something upbeat with swanky guitars and Mackay's wailing saxophone as it returns to its bouncy arrangement from Ferry's harmonica. The album closer is its title track, a near-seven minute track with Thompson's smooth, rumbling bass and tom-tom drums and Ferry's soothing, seductive vocals filled with sexually playful lyrics. With Manzanera playing a melodic-twanging guitar solo, it's Ferry on piano that continues to drive the song as it maintains a sense of playfulness but also something daring. With Manzanera's wailing guitar along Thompson's drumming for an extended instrumental suite, it's Eno's swirling electronic treatments that take charge for the suite as it closes the album.

Released in late March of 1973, the album drew rave reviews from critics as it was accompanied by the non-LP single Pyjamarama. After its release, tension between Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno reached its breaking point over control and creative issues. While band members did agree with Eno on Ferry's dominance in the band, they chose to stay in the band with Eno deciding to quit for good for a very successful career as a multi-media artist, record producer for acts like U2, Talking Heads, David Bowie, and many others along with his own work as a solo artist in which he would create ambient music. While the album became a hit, Eno's departure definitely left a huge void left in the band as they continued to move forward for the next several months as they found a new keyboardist in multi-instrumentalist Eddie Jobson of Curved Air for their third album Stranded released in November of 1973.

For Your Pleasure is a brilliant album from Roxy Music thanks in part to Chris Thomas' superb, structured production as well as the band's balance from strong musicianship and experimentation. While it may not have the free-wielding approach of its debut, it's a record that is definitely daring thanks in some respects to the talents of original keyboardist Brian Eno. In the end, For Your Pleasure is a wild, mesmerizing, and fun album from Roxy Music.

(C) thevoid99 2011

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