ROXY MUSIC – ” For Your Pleasure “

Posted: April 2, 2023 in MUSIC

In terms of packaging, Roxy Music’s suave European futurism was glam incarnate. If you’re looking for a single image to accompany glam’s encyclopedic entry then look no further than “For Your Pleasure’s” inner sleeve. Bryan Ferry’s bolero Elvis; Andy MacKay’s green-flecked quiff; Eno’s space age lady-boy… here, at last, was an album that looked exactly like it sounded. A million stylistic miles from the sluttiness of their contemporaries, Roxy Music offered sophistication, ennui and lounge lizard languor. No proletarian foot-stomping on “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”, just casual, alienated, impenetrable cool.

The track from their second album “For Your Pleasure”, released in March 1973. Placed at the end of the LP’s first side, many listeners mistakenly lifted the turntable arm prematurely due to the fake fade-out. But the song fades in again with a glorious phase shift effect. Phil Manzanera plays a fantastic guitar solo to close that song.

“For Your Pleasure” captured the group’s zany art school whimsy in glittering hits like ‘Editions of You’ and its only single, ‘Do the Strand’. The latter opens the album to introduce a fast fashion theme intrinsic to the glam era and in keeping with the glamorous cover photo of Ferry’s then-partner, Amanda Lear. The album throbs with lavish opulence in the instrumentals and Ferry’s sensual croon, but as early on as ‘Beauty Queen’, the LP’s second track, shadows are never far away. As Ferry sings: “Valerie please believe / It never could work out / The time to make plans / Has passed, faded away,” all hope has already been dashed in the opening lines of the song. 

Brian Ferry talked about the album:

“The first album was interesting and obviously pointed to several different directions, but “For Your Pleasure” was a big album for me. We’d been on the road and were much more experienced and integrated. We recorded in Air Studios with engineers in lab coats, high above Oxford Street, with people running around below. It felt like the center of everything. The album just felt more mature: darker, with better singing.”

Brian Eno talked about him leaving the band after this album:

“It was a typical clash of young male egos. What had happened was that because I was visually so bizarre-looking, I got a lot of press attention. I made good photographs. That distorted the impression of where the creative leadership of the band was. It was definitely Bryan’s band.”

Roxy Music performing “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” live on the BBC program The Old Grey Whistle Test. First broadcast on April 3rd, 1973.

The band’s second full-lengther, their last stand with Eno on board, their sonic high watermark. The A side has the hits (“Do The Strand”, “Editions Of You”, “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”), but I says the B side is even better: the epic, metronomic, Krauty stomp of “The Bogus Man” and the ambient gloom of the title track being the highlights. No other band sounded like them at that time, which is why they were the best UK outfit of the early ’70s

The sinister edge of the album bleeds into the second side and its nine-minute documentation of a sexual stalker on the loose, pursuing his wicked fantasies, ‘The Bogus Man’. The track displays Roxy Music’s staggering level of sonic command with a bouncing rhythm teeming with furtive tension that’s somehow more revealing of the song’s narrative than the lyrics. “For Your Pleasure” finally takes a bow with its classy title track, which begins an airy ballad but works itself into a perfect sound storm infused with an impressive blend of tape loop effects. The track perfectly exemplifies the album’s most admirable quality: combining pop sensibilities with a progressive edge is no easy feat. 

Roxy Music’s saxophonist Andy Mackey once said: “We were never a typical rock ‘n’ roll band. We were basically a group of art students, and my focus was always about creating this theatrical style and look, a really strong image.”

Andy MacKay: Farfisa organ, saxophone

Bryan Ferry: vocals, rhythm guitar

Brian Eno: VCS 3 synthesizer, tape effects

Paul Thompson: Drums

Phil Manzanera: Guitar

John Porter: Bass

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