My Top Choices From the Early Roxy Music Catalogue

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There are two Roxy Musics, the cultural insurgents of the early seventies and the smooth balladeers of later years, I will be dealing with the former. These are the songs that were created in a time of men in high-heeled boots and cabaret-baroque performances that stopped the zeitgeist in its tracks.


The very first song on their self-titled debut album couldn’t be any less "out of the box". It is clear that there was no songwriting manual used here. It radiates eclecticism and excess yet manages to sound entirely wonderous and enchanting. It sounds as though each musician is playing in an almost competitive manner, trying to outdo one another to create a sort of dadaist playfulness. Dazzling lights and fanciful outfits helped to make this one of Roxy's all time greatest hits.

Virginia Plain

With a breakout first album unexpectedly climbing as high as number 10 in the UK album charts, it was clear that a single had to be produced. There was no obvious choice for a single from the album so the record company executives asked Bryan Ferry what else he had in his bustling songbook. He just so happened to have a fully formed, completely new sounding song called Virginia Plain that was musically light years ahead of anything else anyone had heard. Virginia Plain was, and still is, a bubbling cauldron of musical alchemy: cool, catchy and cutting-edge.

Do the Strand

The so-called 'difficult second album' seemed like a myth for Roxy Music when they released For Your Pleasure, featuring the ebullient Do the Strand. Ferry’s words are daringly dandyish and frivolous, throwing references to every part of the cultural spectrum from La Goulue (the French Can-can dancer) to Nijinsky (the Russian ballet dancer), artworks such as Guernica and the Mona Lisa. When read aloud, the lyrics sound like the spoutings of madness twinned with mild intoxication, it seems like a roll call of pinpoints in cultural history - playful and witty.

In Every Dream Home a Heartache

Ferry's pithy commentary on rising consumerism can be heard here in its full nakedness, only an isolated keyboard wave can be heard at the beginning of this song. From “penthouse perfection”, cracks appear to reveal something more seedy. "Plain wrapper baby," Ferry purrs, "deluxe and delightful, inflatable doll". Upon first hearing this song, I recalled the meshuga-haired Tim Minchin and his ditty about an inflatable doll being all he requires in life. I tried to draw connections and contrasts between the two before coming to the innately obvious conclusion that they are incomparable. There’s a school of thought that Ferry doesn’t get his due as a lyricist; Ferry doesn’t so much write songs as paint them, perhaps Dream Home is his finest work.

The Thrill of It All

In terms of all time favourite, mine has to be The Thrill of It All from Country Life. I love hearing the screech of an electric guitar combined with the musical purity of a violin which creates an unassailable sound. It is beautifully layered meaning each time you hear it you pick up something completely new that you had not heard previously; a background riff from Phil Manzanera or a faint violin hum from Eddie Jobson. The track is enormous in the way that so much of British rock was in 1974. It is a six-and-a-half minute masterpiece complete with Ferry’s signature debonair delivery ringing in your ears.

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  1. Roxy/Ferry/Jobson/Mackay/Manzanera/Eno and Thompson at their finest.
    And the scribblings straight out of an NME. - Class!