Online since August 2002

Fool for love

From the Autumn 2002 issue.

By Bryan Ferry

Virgin Music: 2002

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For some music fans in the early '70s, Roxy Music (along with David Bowie) was about it as far as adventurous rock music was concerned.

Singer Bryan Ferry's hyper-romantic vocals and his heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics, combined with Brian Eno's synthesizer noodlings were so different from what everyone else was doing that it was difficult to put a label on the music. This was years before new wave, new romantic, post-punk or goth, all of which were influenced by Roxy Music.

The band released five great albums ("Roxy Music," "For Your Pleasure," "Stranded," "Country Life" and "Siren"), took a three-year break, and then released three more albums that were more commercially successful if less striking than their predecessors. The band's last album, "Avalon," was released in 1982 and the band pretty much disappeared from view, except for a couple of reunion tours, including one last year.

Since the '70s, Ferry has also released several solo records, containing mostly covers of Ferry's favorite songs. "Frantic" is Ferry's tenth solo album, and it is among his best. It's a combination of covers (two from Bob Dylan) and some of the best original material that Ferry has written since the Roxy days.

Ferry surrounds himself with some great contributors on "Frantic," including Dave Stewart from Eurythmics, who co-wrote four songs with Ferry, including the Marilyn Monroe tribute "Goddess of Love," a melancholy tune that benefits from Eno's synth work. Ferry is a self-proclaimed "fool for love" (in fact, that's the title of one of his songs) and most of his tunes are about being heartbroken.

Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood adds guitar to "Hiroshima," a cerebral homage to the Alain Resnais French New Wave film "Hiroshima, Mon Amour." Ferry loves film references, and, according to him, "San Simeon," a continuation of the bizarre Roxy song "In Every Dream Home a Heartache," was inspired by "Citizen Kane."

Roxy Music songs from decades ago continue to influence contemporary musicians, including Radiohead and Moby. It may be asking too much for another Roxy album, but "Frantic" is a pretty good substitute.

Review by Doug Balding. Doug is a writer living in Los Angeles.

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