Sunday, May 8, 2011

Roxy Music-Siren

Originally Written and Posted at on 6/18/09.

After the release of 1974's Country Life, Roxy Music had finally achieved some recognition in the U.S. While they were still an established force in the U.K. where the glam rock music scene had died down. Roxy Music has managed to stray away from their glam look for something sophisticated with suits designed by Antony Price. With the rise of the band's success, singer Bryan Ferry, who had played the persona of a suave, sophisticated European which was meant to be ironic, was now taking on that role to a tilt as he was dating models and such including Texan model Jerry Hall who would be on the cover for the band's 1975 release entitled Siren.

Produced by Chris Thomas, Siren is an album that continues Roxy Music's unique art rock sound as the experimentation of earlier albums are now traded for a full-on sound of sophistication with more melodic sensibilities and tighter song structures. Wild some of the adventurous side of the past from guitarist Phil Manzanera, keyboardist Eddie Jobson, saxophonist Andy Mackay, and drummer Paul Thompson is still intact. The album also dabbles in various styles including funk that is provided by session bassist John Gustafson. With songs filled with odes to Ferry's girlfriend Jerry Hall, it also displays a sense of drama and humor that is prevalent in the band's previous albums. While not as adventurous as Country Life, Siren still shows Roxy Music taking their sophisticated art rock sound to new heights.

The album opener and leading single is Love Is The Drug that opens with sounds of footsteps and a thumping bass line with spurting saxophones from Andy Mackay as motorcycles start to growl. With its bouncy rhythm from drummer Paul Thompson and John Gustafson's bass along with Phil Manzanera's swanky guitar riffs. Bryan Ferry in his cool, crooning vocal style with playful lyrics about love and its oozing powers. With solos from Mackay's wailing saxophone and Manzanera's charging guitar solos, it's one of the band's most quintessential moments. End Of The Line is a mid-tempo track led by Eddie Jobson's swooning piano flourish and a harmonica solo that features a nice groove in its smooth, mid-tempo rhythm. With Manzanera on an acoustic guitar, it's a song that has Ferry showing a great display of vocal power as he plays the seducer with some cool, melancholic lyrics. With Mackay's soothing saxophone matched with Jobson's violin, it's a song that is supported by Chris Thomas' crisp, swooning production as he captures a richness in the performance from the band.

Sentimental Fool arrives with a sound of soft, melodic-swirling synthesizers and fuzzy guitar drones as it features hollow bass lines. Starting off as an instrumental piece for more than two-and-a-half minutes, Thompson's smooth, steady drum performance help make way for Ferry's arrival. Singing in a crooning, falsetto vocal style, it's a song that is about a heartbroken fool as it delves into a smooth, funky presentation with Mackay blasting a smooth saxophone track in the song as it maintains a smooth presentation with Manzanera's sneering guitar. Whirlwind is an upbeat rocker with shimmering guitars and crashing drums from Paul Thompson as it plays up as a driving rocker with Ferry singing in a wailing vocal style with crazy, imagery-laden lyrics. With Manzanera's blazing guitar and Jobson's swooning synthesizers along with thundering bass lines, it's a full-on rocker that gives Manzanera a chance to shine. She Sells is an upbeat track with Jobson's melodic-flourish piano, bopping bass lines, and bouncy beats. With Jobson's swooning violins, Ferry sings in a playful croon with lyrics of partying and the nightlife. With its arrangements from straight-ahead funk to a slow, bouncy funk style, it shows the band delving into a unique style thanks to its complex musical approach from co-writer Eddie Jobson.

Could It Happen To Me? is a smooth, thumping ballad of sorts with Jobson's smooth piano as the tempo picks up bit with Manzanera's swanky guitar washes and wailing solos. With Ferry singing in a smooth vocal style as he sings about being dumped as he is supported by a bouncy rhythm that includes Mackay's wailing saxophone. Both Ends Burning opens with warbling sounds of synthesizers that become a smooth accompaniment for this up-tempo, funky song driven by Gustafson's driving bass and Thompson's swift drums. With Ferry's crooning vocals as he sings lyrics delving in having a good time, it's a song that features Mackay playing a blazing saxophone solo and Manzanera driving guitar.

Nightingale starts out as a ballad of sorts as it is led by Manzanera's washy acoustic-electric guitar as he is followed by a smooth bass line. Then comes Thompson's bouncy, mid-tempo drums with sputtering bass lines and washy guitars with Ferry singing in a cool, crooning vocal style. With Jobson's striking keyboards and somber lyrics driving the song, it features some complex arrangements from Phil Manzanera as Mackay plays an entrancing oboe in the middle of the song. The album closer Just Another High starts out as a dreamy ballad with washy guitar riffs and Ferry's somber vocals filled with melancholic lyrics. With Thompson's hard-hitting, pounding drums arriving, it's a song that revels in a full sound of bass, keyboards, and guitars as Ferry's vocals is filled with desperation and sadness. Even as it is supported by Manzanera's melodic-flourishing guitar wails and Mackay's soothing saxophones, it's a fitting closer to the album.

Released in October of 1975, the album was a huge hit thanks to the single Love Is The Drug that gave the band their first major U.S. hit. The band went on tour for a year as they were now bigger than ever while Bryan Ferry scored a solo hit with the single Let's Stick Together. In 1976, the band released the live album Viva! where after the tour to support Siren. The band chose to take a break though the official statement was that they broke up. In reality, Ferry wanted to capitalize on his newfound solo success while giving other members a chance to do their own thing for a while. Yet, this two-year break for the band would prove to be crucial as music trends were changing at a rapid pace.

While it may not have some of the unpredictable elements or consistency of previous albums. Siren is still a brilliant, well-made album from Roxy Music thanks to Chris Thomas' superb production and the tight musicianship between the members of the band. With elements of funk mixed in with their art rock sound, this record is the band's most accessible record among the first five albums they made from 1972 to 1975. Notably for the single Love Is The Drug which is currently, a classic rock staple. In the end, Siren is an enjoyable, good-time album from Roxy Music.

(C) thevoid99 2011

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