As the New Romantic groups were finding success in the early '80s certain performers were constantly cited as influences. David Bowie's name often surfaced. Of course, he was a major innovator and star. Then there was Brian Ferry and Roxy Music. Less well known in most circles, but revered by many.
Roxy Music was launched in '71 attempting to balance Ferry's avant-pop with future ambient composer Brian Eno's experimentation. The group went through numerous personnel changes with some members only staying a matter of months. Following two commercially successful U.K. albums ("Roxy Music" and "For Your Pleasure") Eno, frustrated his songs weren't getting recorded, gave up and bailed. In the meantime, Ferry released an album of pop and Rock covers, "These Foolish Things."
Roxy Music's third album "Stranded," released in '73, went to #1 in the U.K. and actually got noticed in the U.S. The next album, "Country Life," with the cover showing models in see-through lingerie, did the trick. Banned by several store chains it did land on the U.S. album charts.
"Siren" had future Asia bassist John Wetton but failed to match "Country Life's" modest commercial success. Core members, Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera and sax player Andy Mackay then all busied themselves with solo or outside projects with the live "Vive! Roxy Music" being released in '76.
'78 saw a Roxy reunion with Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay and drummer Paul Thompson. Both bassist Wetton and multi-instrumentalist Eddie Jobson were not asked back. Rather, keyboard player Paul Carrack joined and session bassist Alan Spenner was hired. This line-up produced the group's most pop oriented album "Manifesto," which featured the rhythmic "Dance Away." After breaking is thumb, just prior to a worldwide tour, Thompson departed.
Stripped down to Ferry, Manzanera and Mackay, Roxy Music released "Flesh + Blood." After John Lennon's murder, they contributed "Jealous Guy" to a tribute compilation. It turned out to be the Roxy Music's first #1 U.K. single.
Led by another ethereal, yet pulsating single, "More Than This," and the title track, "Avalon" earned Roxy Music their first gold record (it eventually went platinum) in the U.S. The live "Musique/The High Road" appeared in '83. But this success was short-lived. Ferry went solo in '85 while Manzanera and Mackay started the Explorers.
Ferry's solo album "Olympia" dropped in '10. In addition to Ferry, it was the first LP to feature Manzanera, Mackey and Eno since Roxy Music's '73 set "For Your Pleasure."
"Avonmore," Ferry's fourteenth solo album, featured the single "Loop De Li." The '14 set included contributions from The Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr, Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea and Dire Straights' guitarist Mark Knopfler.
1972 Roxy Music
1973 For Your Pleasure
1974 Country Life
1980 Flesh And Blood
"Avalon" with the title track, "Take A Chance With Me," and the stunning "More Than This" represents Roxy Music's high water mark thanks to flawless arrangements and exquisite production. "Country Life" and Manifesto" are masterful recordings and captures Roxy Music's core sound.
Early Roxy Music is an acquired taste. Of their first three albums, the third, "Stranded" has the most going for it. The album marks Eno's departure and Jobson's arrival. Furthermore, Mackay and Manzanera contribute songs giving the album a broader scope than previous recordings.