soundstreamsunday: “If There Is Something” by Roxy Music

ROXY-2If in May 1972 the Rolling Stones defined and deified rock and roll (and themselves) with the release of Exile on Main Street, one month later Roxy Music’s debut album made splatter art of such ideas.  A galvanizing, glammed-out, punked-up masterpiece, Roxy Music is the first of a series of four albums (including For Your Pleasure, Stranded, and Country Life) that artfully engage a European, distinctly non-bluesy, approach to rock. Where a mere three years later Roxy would hit the disco with “Love is the Drug” and a decade on would make one of the great, soulful, chilled-out new wave records with Avalon, in 1972 the band was pushing in every direction, its self-defined non-musician Brian Eno creating on-the-fly soundscapes that turned Andy Mackay’s reeds into guitars and Phil Manzanera’s guitars into sirens, while Bryan Ferry ululated — more in the style of Roger Chapman than the smooth crooner he would become — loose, even free associative, lyrics rendered on a spectrum from oddball to heartbreaking. While their image and aesthetic fit into the cutting edge of the British glam music scene at the time (Bowie’s Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust was released just the week before), and their creation myth is inseparable from their influential visual audacity (for who could look more creepy in a feather boa and leopard skin than the be-rouged Eno?), it was the band’s intense musicianship and penchant for the melodic that was the core of its success and influence, and why you can hear this first album in everything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Talking Heads. The sound is richly subversive, hooks are everywhere, songs use shifting dynamics to create emotional peaks. They challenge convention, but are fully wrought, they are all surface, but go deep.

Roxy Music on Amazon

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