Zeitgeist, Meet Bryan Ferry

The bleak misery of the early seventies, shadowed in a thick, grey mist. But there was something coming, something great. A gift from the gods. On went the rainbow-tinted spectacles and out went the rulebook, it's time for glam rock.

The seventies became a time when masculinity was threatened by the rise of men in shiny gold pants, women's high-heeled boots and makeup. Zeitgeist, meet Bryan Ferry.

Mr Ferry has long been a hero of mine, not only for his musical prowess but also for his aesthete-ic view of the world. A former art student, Bryan Ferry was at the pinnacle of the glam rock scene that spawned from seventies Britain. The first time I saw Bryan Ferry I thought that Humphrey Bogart had delved into the world of pop music. He was a suave character wearing a fine suit in the video for Let's Stick Together but then I began looking at his earlier work and seeing how both his fashion style and music style had changed and evolved over the years. 

I had initially become aware of Bryan Ferry after watching an episode of The Mighty Boosh in 2004 where a reference is made to Vince Noir being raised by Bryan Ferry in the jungle. I was then aged just six and was sat watching TV with my dad, I asked him who Bryan Ferry was, he paused and walked over to his CD player. Out from the speakers came a voice unlike any other I'd ever heard, it's cadences were wild and profound, like a boat rocking on a stormy sea. I was entranced. We continued watching the episode, after the song (It's My Party) had finished, which was made all the more amusing after I understood who they were referencing.

Being a child with a very active imagination, Bryan was soon shunned to the back of my mind where he would emerge years later. In fact, he burst back into the forefront of my mind rather than simply "emerging". My father had passed away in 2010 and we were sorting through his old things. A lover of music, he had hundreds, if not thousands of CDs and records all collected and stored away all around the house. He like all sorts of different kinds of music; a Cole Porter album could be placed alongside a Lady Gaga album and they would have both been played an equal number of times. Digging through the treasure trove of music memorabilia was where I struck gold, the fated album, These Foolish Things. It was the album played to me all those years ago by my dad, the one I was so encapsulated by when I heard that beautiful, caressing voice.

The tidying and sorting could be left until later, I had music to listen to. I clutched the CD case tight as I sprinted to my room, jumped on my bed and put on my big, oversized headphones. Track one - I'd heard this song before. "He stole this song" I thought to myself, oblivious to the idea that "covers" of songs were a thing that existed. It was a cover of Bob Dylan's 'A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall' but it was done very differently from Dylan's original folk style - I liked it. It was much more exiting, new and fresh compared to what Dylan had offered. Fun, raw, cool. I played this album on repeat for days and days after before finally awaking from my Ferry induced coma. I needed more.

I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a time when the Internet was available to act as a whore to my every desire. I logged onto YouTube, searched his name, and a whole new universe was opened up. I clicked on the first result, and then the one after that, then more and more. Slave To Love, Let's Stick Together, Don't Stop The Dance, swathes of class and elegance pouring from my computer screen. Further down the YouTube search results page were earlier Bryan Ferry songs that he'd done with Roxy Music and these excited me even more; they were full of colour, crazy hair and crazier clothes.

Roxy Music were formed in 1971 by Mr Ferry and Graham Simpson, the group's bassist. Bryan served as the principle songwriter and had already written a full album's worth of material waiting to be recorded, it was therefore his job to recruit some of the finest, forward thinking musicians in the country. Their first album was self-titled and became an instant hit, which was surprising as the music was anything but pastiche. Their first single, Virginia Plain, came straight into the UK Singles Chart at number 4 where they were then invited to perform it on Top of the Pops. 24th August, 1972: the day that the general populous were first shown a glimpse of Ferry's genius. Leather trousers, sparkly jackets and glittery eye shadow - welcome to art rock.

Art rock is a music genre that could define the vast majority of the music that I like - it is both baroque and avant-garde at the same time. I have said in the past that I like music with a good beat that involves clever lyrics played by musicians in fancy outfits, so art rock is the perfect music category for me and Roxy Music were at the centre of it all. I love this band with all my heart and Bryan Ferry was the driving force behind it.

I really need to stop pouring my heart out and wrap this one up. I did intend to write a completely unabridged article on my love for Bryan Ferry but alas I fear that no one will bother to read any more. I'm sure there's no one even reading this bit.

Bryan Ferry: singer, songwriter, musician, fashionista, cultural influencer, idol. They say that your teenage years are the ones that define who you will be for the rest of your life, I always say that people should define themselves by what they love, I think this article speaks for itself.

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  1. Excellent article. Bryan Ferry is a magician!

  2. God bless The Mighty Boosh! Nice write up James x