Roxy Music

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Posted by motoman 03/06/2009 @ 12:15

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Sat Eye Candy: Roxy Music - All About Jazz
While the '80s continue to reemerge in today's crop of young bands, we thought we'd lean back to a major influence on these influencers, Roxy Music. Arty, sensual, clever and quirky with a capitol “Q," Roxy emerged in 1971, a very English,...
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Phil Manzanera is the lead guitarist of Roxy Music, the seventies super group which along with Bowie represented the arty, fashion-conscious end of glam rock. He has since enjoyed a highly successful solo career, written for Pink Floyd,...
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Roxy Music

Roxy Music on stage during concert at London's ExCeL Exhibition Centre, July 2006

Roxy Music are an English art rock group founded in the early 1970s by art school graduate Bryan Ferry (vocals and keyboards). The other members are Phil Manzanera (guitars), Andy Mackay (saxophone and oboe) and Paul Thompson (drums and percussion). Former members include Brian Eno (synthesizer and "treatments"), and Eno's replacement Eddie Jobson (synthesizer and violin). Although the band broke up in 1983, they reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and have announced that they are recording a new album for a yet-to-be-confirmed release date.

Roxy Music attained mainstream popular and critical success in the UK and Europe through the 1970s and early 1980s, beginning with their Top 10 debut album, Roxy Music, in 1972. The band proved to be a significant influence on the early English punk movement, as well as providing a model for many New Wave acts and the experimental electronic groups of the early 1980s. Ferry and co-founding member Eno have also had broadly influential solo careers, the latter emerging as one of the most significant record producers of the late 20th century, with credits including landmark albums by Devo, Talking Heads, U2 and Coldplay. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Roxy Music #98 on its "100 The Greatest Artists of All Time" list.

In November 1970, ceramics teacher and aspiring rock musician Bryan Ferry advertised for a keyboard player to collaborate with him and Graham Simpson, a bass player he knew from his Newcastle art college band, The Gas Board and with whom he collaborated on his first songs. In early 1970 Ferry had auditioned as lead singer for King Crimson (who were seeking a replacement for departed vocalist Greg Lake). Although Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield decided that Ferry's voice was unsuitable for King Crimson's material, they were impressed with his talent and they subsequently helped the fledgling Roxy Music to obtain a contract with E.G. Records.

Andy MacKay replied to Ferry's advertisement, not as a keyboard player but as a saxophonist and oboist; however, he did possess a VCS3 synthesiser. Mackay had already met Brian Eno during university days, as both were interested in avant-garde and electronic music. It was some time later that they met again; although Eno was a self-confessed non-musician, he could operate a synthesizer and owned a Revox reel-to-reel tape machine, so Mackay convinced him to join the band as a technical adviser. Before long Eno was a performing member of the group. After Dexter Lloyd, a classically-trained timpanist, left the band an ad was placed in Melody Maker magazine saying "wonder drummer wanted for an avante rock group". Paul Thompson responded to the ad and joined the line-up in June 1971. The group's name was partly an homage to the titles of old cinemas and dance halls, and partly a pun on the word rock. Ferry had originally named the band Roxy, but after learning of an American band with the same name he altered the name to Roxy Music.

Around October 1971 Roxy placed an ad in Melody Maker seeking the "Perfect Guitarist" and Phil Manzanera (real name Philip Targett-Adams) was one of about twenty players who auditioned. Manzanera, the son of an English father and a Columbian mother, had spent considerable time in South America and Cuba as a child and although he did not have the same art school background as Ferry, Mackay and Eno, he was perhaps the most musically proficient of and had a wide-ranging interest in music, which was broadended by his childhood sojourns in Latin America. Manzanera was also connected to other notable figures on the British underground scene—e.g he knew both David Gilmour, who was a friend of his older brother's and Soft Machine's Robert Wyatt.

Although Ferry and the group were impressed with Manzanera, the job intially went to David O'List, former guitarist with The Nice, although Manzanera was invited to become their roadie. However in February 1972 O'List abruptly quit the group after an altercation with Paul Thompson which took place at their audition for David Enthoven of EG Management. When O'List didn't show up for the next rehearsal, Manzanera was asked to come along, on the pretext of becoming their sound mixer. When he arrived he was invited to sit in on guitar and quickly realised that it was an unofficial audition. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, Manzanera had learned their entire repertoire and as a result, he was immediately drafted in as O'List's permanent replacement, joining on February 14, 1972 and two weeks later Roxy Music signed with EG Management.

With this line-up, EG Management financed the recording of the tracks for their first album, Roxy Music, recorded in March-April 1972 and produced by King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield. It is notable that both the album and its famous cover artwork were apparently completed before the group signed with Island Records. A&R staffer Tim Clark records that although he argued strongly that Island should sign them, label boss Chris Blackwell at first seemed unimpressed and Clark assumed he was not interested. A few days later however, Clark and Enthoven were standing in the hallway of the Island offices examining cover image for the album when Blackwell walked passed, glanced at the artwork and said "Looks great! Have we got them signed yet?" The band signed with Island Records a few days later. The LP was released in June to good reviews and became an major success, reaching #1 on the UK album chart in late 1972.

The band's fortunes were greatly boosted by the support of Melody Maker journalist Richard Williams and broadcaster John Peel. Williams became an enthusiastic fan after meeting Ferry and being given a demo tape in mid-1971 and he penned the first major article on the band, featured on Melody Maker's "Horizons" page in the 7 August 1971 edition.

During the latter half of 1971 bassist Graham Simpson became increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative, and near the end of the year—shortly after the group had recorded the tracks for their first LP (financed by EG management) and played a showcase gig for Island Records executives—Simpson suffered a serious breakdown and left the band. He was replaced by Rik Kenton.

To garner more attention to their album, Roxy Music decided to record and release a single. Their debut single was "Virginia Plain", which reached #4 in the British charts. The band's eclectic visual image, captured in their debut performance on the BBC's Top of the Pops, became a cornerstone for the glam trend in the UK; the TOTP video of "Virginia Plain" was later parodied by the British comedy series Big Train. The single sparked a renewed interest in the album.

Soon after "Virginia Plain", Rik Kenton departed the band.

The next album, For Your Pleasure (recorded with guest bass player John Porter), was released in March 1973. It marked the beginning of the band's long, successful collaboration with producer Chris Thomas and recording engineer Bill Price, who worked on all of the group's classic albums and singles in the 1970s. The album was promoted with the non-album single "Pyjamarama", but no album track was released as a single. At the time, Ferry was dating French model Amanda Lear, who was photographed with a black jaguar for the cover of For Your Pleasure (Ferry appears on the back cover as a dapper driver standing in front of a limousine).

Soon after recording For Your Pleasure, Brian Eno left Roxy Music amidst increasing differences with Ferry over the direction and running of the group. The other members of the band are reported to have shared some of Eno's concerns about Ferry's dominance, but they elected to remain in the group. The band would never again settle on a permanent bass player. John Gustafson, John Wetton, Gary Tibbs, and Alan Spenner — among others — would fill the revolving role.

Eno was replaced by 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist Eddie Jobson, formerly of progressive rockers Curved Air, who played keyboards and electric violin. Although some fans lamented the loss of the experimental attitude and camp aesthetic that Eno had brought to the band, the classically-trained Jobson was a dynamic and accomplished musician. His arrival reinvigorated the group, with his keyboard expertise freeing Ferry from his keyboard duties on stage, as well as lending greater refinement to the group's studio recordings. His dazzling electric violin skills added an exciting new dimension to the band's sound, as showcased on the song "Out of the Blue". Eno himself later acknowledged the quality of the two albums that followed his departure, Stranded (1973) and Country Life (1974), and they are widely regarded as being among the most original and consistent British rock albums of the period. Rolling Stone referred to the albums as marking "the zenith of contemporary British art rock". The songs on these albums also cemented Ferry's persona as the epitome of the suave, jaded Euro-sophisticate. Although this persona undoubtedly began as a deliberately ironic device, during the mid-1970s it seemed to merge with Ferry's real life, as the working-class miner's son from the north of England became an international rock star, an icon of male style who had love affairs with many beautiful women, among them Playboy playmate Marilyn Cole (who appeared on the cover of the Stranded album) and fashion models Amanda Lear (who would later date David Bowie) and Jerry Hall (who later became the common-law wife of Mick Jagger).

On the first two Roxy albums, all songs were written solely by Bryan Ferry. Beginning with Stranded, Mackay and Manzanera began to co-write some material. Gradually, their songwriting and musicianship became more integrated into the band's sound, although Ferry remained the dominant songwriter; throughout their career, all but one of Roxy's singles were written either wholly or jointly by Ferry. Stranded was released in November 1973, and produced the top-10 single "Street Life".

The fourth album, Country Life, was released in 1974, and was the first Roxy Music album to enter the U.S. Top 40, albeit at #37. Country Life was met with widespread critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone referring to it "as if Ferry ran a cabaret for psychotics, featuring chanteurs in a state of shock". Their fifth album, Siren, contained their only U.S. hit, "Love is the Drug". (Ferry said the song came to him while kicking the leaves during a walk through Hyde Park.) At this time Ferry was involved in a high-profile relationship with Texas-born supermodel Jerry Hall. Ferry's paean to Hall, "Prairie Rose", directly inspired the Talking Heads song "The Big Country" and was later covered by the Scottish rock group Big Country as a B-side to their single "East Of Eden" in 1984. Hall is also featured on the cover of the Siren LP and in the video for Ferry's 1976 international solo hit, a cover of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Stick Together".

Following the concert tours in support of Siren in 1976, Roxy Music disbanded. Their live album Viva! was released in August of 1976. During this time Ferry released two solo records on which Manzanera and Thompson performed, and Manzanera reunited with Eno on the critically acclaimed one-off 801 Live album.

Roxy Music reunited in 1978 to record a new album, Manifesto, but with a reshuffled line-up. Jobson was not present (and reportedly not contacted for the reunion) as Ferry decided to perform keyboards himself. After the tour and before the recording of the next album, Flesh + Blood (1980), Thompson broke his thumb in a motorcycle mishap and took a leave from the band (and soon after left permanently). The three remaining members were supplemented by a variety of session players over the next few years, including Andy Newmark, Neil Hubbard, and Alan Spenner.

The changed line-up reflected a distinct change in Roxy's musical approach. Gone were the jagged and unpredictable elements of the group's sound, giving way to smoother (some would say blander) musical arrangements. Rolling Stone panned Manifesto — "Roxy Music has not gone disco. Roxy Music has not particularly gone anywhere else either" — as well as Flesh + Blood ("such a shockingly bad Roxy Music record that it provokes a certain fascination"). Later, with more sombre and carefully-sculpted soundscapes, the band's eighth — and, until their 21st-century reunion, final — album, Avalon (1982), was a major commercial success and restored the group's critical reputation and contained the hit single "More Than This". The trio toured extensively until 1983, when Bryan Ferry dissolved the band and band members devoted themselves full time to solo careers (see below).

Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay, and Thompson re-formed in 2001 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band and toured extensively. A festival appearance in Portugal and a short tour of the United States followed in 2003. Absent was Brian Eno, who criticized the motives of the band's reunion, saying, "I just don't like the idea. It leaves a bad taste". Later Eno remarked that his comment had been taken out of context. Manzanera and Thompson recorded and toured with Ferry on his 2002 album Frantic. Eno also contributed to Frantic on the track "I Thought".

In 2002, Image Entertainment, Inc., released the concert DVD Roxy Music Live at the Apollo featuring performances of 20 songs plus interviews and rehearsal footage.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the group #98 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Roxy Music returned to the stage for a live performance at the 2005 Isle of Wight Festival on 11 June 2005, their first UK concert since the 2001–2002 world tour. On 2 July 2005, the band played "Jealous Guy", "Do the Strand", and "Love is the Drug" at the Berlin contribution to Live8; only "Do the Strand" was available on the DVD.

In March 2005 it was announced on Phil Manzanera's official site that the band, including Brian Eno, had decided to record an album of new material. The project would mark the first time Eno worked with Roxy Music since 1973's For Your Pleasure. After a number of denials that he would be involved with any Roxy Music reunion, on 19 May 2006 Eno revealed that he had contributed two songs to the new album as well as playing keyboards on other tracks. He did, however, rule out touring with the band. The record will also be the first since Manifesto on which original drummer Paul Thompson performs.

In early 2006, a lesser-known Roxy track, "The Main Thing", was remixed by Malcolm Green and used as the soundtrack to a pan-European television commercial for the Opel Vectra. The film featured legendary football referee Pierluigi Collina, whose sartorial elegance somewhat echoed Ferry's. The remix was immediately popular across the continent and the United Kingdom, bringing Roxy to a new generation of viewers and fans.

In July 2006, the band toured Europe. They concentrated mostly on places they had never visited before, such as Serbia and Macedonia. Roxy Music's second drummer, Andy Newmark, performed during the tour, as Thompson withdrew due to health issues.

In a March 2007 interview with the Western Daily Press, Ferry confirmed that although the next Roxy Music album is definitely in the making it will not see light for another "year and a half", as Ferry had just released and toured behind his twelfth studio album, Dylanesque, consisting of Bob Dylan covers.

In June 2007 the band hired Liverpool based design agency to develop their new website supporting their new album. Early in the year, Phil Manzanera revealed that the band are planning to sign a record contract. In an October 2007 interview, Ferry said that the album would include a collaboration with Scissor Sisters.

All members of Roxy Music have prolific careers. Ferry's solo career had already begun in 1973 while he was still very much a member of Roxy Music, and his solo albums (mostly containing ironic cover versions of pop standards) alternated with Roxy's releases. Ferry's solo debut, These Foolish Things, is notable as one of the first and best examples of the much-imitated trend that has seen scores of rock musicians recording albums made up of cover versions of songs from earlier eras chosen for their influence on the performer's musical development. Ferry's battle with writer's block, however, was probably a factor in his choice to perform cover songs, although Ferry himself has compared them to the famous "readymades" of Marcel Duchamp. It was released just before David Bowie's Pin Ups, which adopted a similar formula.

Eno launched his own solo career in 1973. His first four albums were comparitively conventional, mixing accessible pop-rock melodies and song structures with experimental sounds and oblique lyrics reminiscent of the work of Syd Barrett and they featured many leading musicians including Manzanera, Mackay and Thompson as well as John Cale and members of Can, Cluster, King Crimson, Henry Cow and Genesis. His solo debut Here Come The Warm Jets (Jan. 1974) was a UK Top 40 album and one of his biggest commercial successes. During this period Eno also collaborated with Robert Fripp on two albums of experimental music, No Pussyfooting and Evening Star, which used a tape-delay system (dubbed "Frippertronics") which became the basis of the next phase of his recording career. Eno also collaborated on albums by John Cale (Fear, Slow Dazzle and Helen of Troy), Genesis (The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway), Robert Wyatt, Jon Hassell, Cluster, Harold Budd and others. In 1976 he established the shortlived Obscure Records label and released the groundbreaking Discreet Music, the first in a series of highly influential recordings which created the genre of ambient music. This also marked the end of the "pop" phase of his career, and he rarely revisited the vocal song format on his own records in later years. By the late 1970s, alongside his own recording career, Eno had also become a sought-after producer of other artists, with credits including albums by DEVO, Talking Heads and Ultravox. He featured prominently on Talking Heads Remain In Light and collaborated with frontman David Byrne on the landmark album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, one of the first pop-rock recordings to incorporate samples as a compositional tool. Eno is probably best known today as a producer, thanks to his long association with U2 and his production for other acts such as James and Coldplay.

Manzanera and Mackay each recorded solo albums, both of them with Thompson on drums. Manzanera also used some of the studio time during the recording of his solo debut Diamond Head to reconstitute his former band Quiet Sun and cut an album of their (previously unrecorded) material; he played guitar on many of Eno's solo and collaborative recordings of the mid-1970s - notably collaborating within the critically acclaimed, yet short-lived supergroup 801 (named after a term from the Roxy Music song The True Wheel). Manzanera, Mackay, Thompson and Jobson have all taken part in various Ferry solo recordings (some of which included reworkings of old Roxy material), and Manzanera has regularly played with Ferry on his solo tours.

After their last album and tour, Mackay, Manzanera, and Ferry all released solo albums. Ferry's solo career has continued uninterrupted. Andy Newmark participated on all of Ferry's subsequent records and tours. Thompson worked as a session drummer for various artists; his post-Roxy session work included such diverse acts as a punk band The Angelic Upstarts on their 1983 album Reason Why and blues-rocker Gary Moore on his Emerald Aisles Live In Ireland tour in 1985, which was released on video. In 1990–91, Thompson replaced Harry Rushakoff as the drummer in Concrete Blonde, during which time they had their biggest hit with the single "Joey".

In 1984, Manzanera and Mackay teamed with vocalist James Wraith to form The Explorers. Signed to Virgin, the band released a self-titled album and a number of singles (among them "Venus de Milo" and "Falling for Nightlife", the latter of which was not included on the LP version), but none of their material charted in England. Virgin dropped the band while they were in the studio recording a second album. This eventually emerged in 1990 under the name Manzanera / Mackay. In 1987, Manzanera teamed with former Roxy and King Crimson bassist John Wetton for the LP Wetton/Manzanera.

The early style and presentation of Roxy Music was heavily influenced by the art school backgrounds of its principal members. Ferry, Mackay and Eno had all had studied at prominent UK art colleges in the mid-to-late 1960s, when these institutions were introducing courses that broke away from traditional art teaching practice, with its heavy emphasis on painting, and instead focussed on more recent developments—most notably Pop Art—and explored new concepts and approaches such as cybernetics. As writer Michael Bracewell notes in his book Roxy: the band that invented an era, Roxy Music was expressly created by Ferry, Mackay and Eno as a means of combining and exploring their mutual and wide-ranging interests in music, modern art and fashion.

Ferry studied at the University of Newcastle in the Sixties under renowned pop artist and educator Richard Hamilton, and many of Ferry's university friends, classmates and tutors (e.g. Rita Donagh, Tim Head) went on to become prominent artists in their own right. Eno studied at Winchester College and although his iconoclastic approach surfaced early and led to some conflict with the college establishement, it also brought him into contact with important artists and musicians including Cornelius Cardew and Gavin Bryars. His interest in electronic music also led to his first meetings with Andy Mackay, who was studying at Reading University and who had likewise developed a strong interest in avant garde and electronic music.

The three eventually joined forces in London in 1970–71 after meeting through mutual friends and decided to form a rock band.

Roxy Music was one of the first rock groups who created and maintained a carefully crafted look and style that included their stage presentation, music videos, album and single cover designs, and promotional materials such as posters, handbills, cards and badges. They were assisted in this by a group of friends and associates who helped to sculpt the classic Roxy Music 'look'—notably fashion designer Antony Price, hair stylist Keith Mainwaring, photographer Karl Stoecker, the group's "PR consultant" Simon Puxley (a former university friend of Mackay's) and Ferry's art school classmate Nicholas De Ville.

Legendary critic Lester Bangs went so far as to say that Roxy represented "the triumph of artifice". The band's debut album, produced by King Crimson's Pete Sinfield, was the first in a series of increasingly sophisticated album covers, art-directed by Ferry in collaboration with his friend Nick De Ville.

The album artwork for the first five Roxy LPs imitated the visual style of classic "girlie" and fashion magazines, featuring high-fashion shots of scantily-clad models Amanda Lear, Marilyn Cole and Jerry Hall, each of whom had romances with Ferry during the time of their contributions (as well as model Kari-Ann Muller who appears on the cover of the first Roxy album but who was not otherwise involved with anyone in the band, and who later married Mick Jagger's brother Chris). The title of the fourth Roxy album, Country Life, was intended as a parody of the well-known British rural magazine of the same name, and the visually punning front cover photo featured two models (two German fans, Constanze Karoli — sister of Can's Michael Karoli — and Eveline Grunwald) clad only in semi-transparent lingerie standing in a forest. As a result, in many areas of the United States the album was sold in an opaque plastic wrapper because retailers refused to display the cover. Later, an alternate cover (featuring just a shot of the forest) was used.

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Street Life (Roxy Music song)

In 2001, in the Roxy Reunion Tour, this was the second song to be played; "Re-Make/Re-Model" was first.

Bassist John Taylor, during his solo period after leaving Duran Duran in 1997, organized a Roxy Music tribute album called Dream Home Heartaches: Remaking/Remodeling Roxy Music (released 1999). "Street Life" was covered by Gerry Laffy and Simon Laffy, credited as Phantom 5.

The band Def Leppard covered "Street Life" on their album Yeah!.

Morrissey also performed the song during some European festival dates during his 2006 tour.

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Greatest Hits (Roxy Music album)

Roxy Music Greatest Hits cover

Greatest Hits is Roxy Music's first standard "greatest hits" compilation album, issued after Roxy Music went on hiatus. The edited version of "The Thrill of It All" is unique to this release, while the single version (3:20) is available only on 7" 45 RPM single.

All songs written by Bryan Ferry except as noted.

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Live (Roxy Music album)

Live cover

Live is a double live album by English art rock band Roxy Music, released in 2003. Their fourth official live album, it contains performances from a variety of venues on their 2001 reunion world tour, and represents the entire set list from those concerts. Live was packaged in a Digipak case, with "Both Ends Burning" featured as an enhanced visual element.

On allmusic Sean Westergaard wrote: "This set should impress those unfamiliar with Roxy and will surely thrill longtime fans. It's a fine testament to this band that these songs sound timeless rather than dated nearly 30 years down the line in many cases. After nearly two decades away, Roxy Music prove that they still have plenty of style and plenty of substance".

On bbc.co.uk, Nigel Bell stated: "Roxy’s reunion might have been short lived (who knows?) but this is evidence that the band members can still compete with their younger upstarts".

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Manifesto (Roxy Music album)

Manifesto cover

Manifesto is the sixth studio album by Roxy Music, and was released in 1979 (see 1979 in music) by E.G. in the UK, Polydor in Europe and by Atco in the U.S.

Following an almost four-year recording hiatus, Roxy Music regrouped for this album, their first since 1975's Siren. The first single from Manifesto was "Trash", which barely made the UK top 40. However, the second single, the disco-tinged "Dance Away", returned the band to the top 3, beaten to no 1 for 2 weeks from 26 May 1979 by Blondie's "Sunday Girl" and becoming one of their biggest 70s hits. The song was also released as a 12" extended version (running at six and half minutes), a format that had started to become popular in the late 1970s. The third single from the album was a remixed version of "Angel Eyes", which was also released as an extended 12" mix and also made the top 5 in the UK in August.

The album itself peaked at no. 7 in the UK . The cover design which featured a variety of mannequins (a concept also used for the covers of the singles from the album), was created by Bryan Ferry with fashion designer Antony Price amongst others. The picture disc version of the album featured a version of the design in which the mannequins are unclothed. The cover's typography, as well as the album's title, were inspired by the first edition of Wyndham Lewis's literary magazine BLAST.

All songs written by Bryan Ferry except as noted.

On the original vinyl release, Side One was labeled "East Side" and Side Two was labeled "West Side".

The first CD issue substituted the single remixes of "Angel Eyes" (3:06) and "Dance Away" (3:48) for the original versions. The remastered (1999) version restored "Angel Eyes" to its album mix but retained the "Dance Away" remix, which was made available in compact disc only on 1995's Thrill of It All four-disc compilation.

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Source : Wikipedia