Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bryan Ferry Lets It Rock ... again

Brian Ferry_LetItRock_cov by Doctor Noe
Bryan Ferry_LetItRock_cov, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr.

Bryan Ferry "Cherry-Poppin'' Stories

I'll go first:

I anticipate Bryan's show at the Greek Theater Oct. 15.

My favorite Roxy show of many was in a little town in Lorraine (Salzbourg, actually), France, circa 1974. The band played in a high school gym, which they transported to the sophisticated realms of Radio City once the music started. I think I wrote about it in my piece on the trip for Crawdaddy, but being now a denizen of the"aging crowd," I can't find this piece of writing anywhere except in the smoke dreams of my mind.

This just in!

I did go to the concert and grabbed this little snippet of Chris Spedding on vid.

... to which Bruce Malamut adds the following comment:

"I remember you also liked Spedding's first three solo albums Songs Without Words, Backwoods Progression (recorded in-between Nilsson Schmilsson sessions) and The Only Lick I Know. Spedding is copious!"

Like Ferry, I like to think I have aged like a fine wine.

But the ultimate erudite benediction comes from the great Bruce Malamut, of the Kings Crown Radio (WKCR) mavens and the Crawdaddy Magazine punters – what are you, some kinda rock crit or sump'n?:

"Style + Substance, well hell yeah – the thrill of it all! I saw Roxy play The 100 Club London, June, '71 and was floored by the hooks, the asymmetries, the film noir refs, the pounding pose of ennui and anti-romanticism, electronic sheen and wailing sax ... oboe, even – these guys screamed avant-garde, loud, hard rock, but I just fully dug the hooks!

"Then the first album was released in '72 and it became clear to all – some of the best players in UK in one band tossing off hooks and choruses effortlessly – sweet! I give it an A- for Side One, which was Ferry's full-tilt rock, and A+ for Side Two, which debuted Eno's virtual keyboard world. There seemed a palpable tension between these two guys live – each a forceful leader in his own right – and it was clear on their first album as well. One of them might need to leave this band, I'd thought, and chart his own path. To me, Roxy the band is far from Brian the singer.

"Roxy the band is the drug for me – look no further than Mackay's wailing sax, the Great Paul Thompson's brutal beats (similar, yet just a few yards to the left of John Bonham's) but mostly the uncredited compositions and bold guitar work of Phil Manzanera. I think people sell Phil's "real time" composing short – true, Bryan would write a new lyric so it's "his song" and bring it to the band – but what the band, invariably lead by Phil, did with a new Ferry song was to de- and re- construct it into a wholly different beast than Bryan had first proposed. This process changed Ferry's songs musically, thus thematically too, marking them as 100% Pure Uncut Roxy Music.

"Their first U.S. tour, they naturally came up to WKCR-FM (how could they not??) for a delightful evening including a white-copy spin of For Your Pleasure. Members present were Ferry, Manzanera, Eno, Mackay (The Great), Thompson.

"In a six-hour interview, one gets a fair impression of one's guests. Everyone endorsed the theory of how Phil is Bryan's equal in the band's composition process, but that's as much as they'd give at least on this First U.S. tour. A fun time was had. Phil and I discovered that we were raised a stone's throw from each other– most unexpected news!


OK, so now flashforward to 2011. I come across this great photo by Lorenzo Lessi, taken on July 28, 2011.

Bryan Ferry Live at Bolgheri Melody

Copyright © Lorenzo Lessi 2011

I am lovin' this one. Bryan is playing blues harp through a hand-held mike.

My cousin Larry, who is five years my junior, had this response:

"You know. Sorry I missed it.. I knew he was coming , Shyster.

"He is great. … I just read yesterday's article in the Financial Times. He is a wine schmecker

"Anyway, Noë, what I do remember, is that a long time ago, I was at your house on 95th street when I first saw that album. You might have even opened it in front me, with the hot girls [Country Life].

"I was really young. That's where I got my first exposure to Roxy Music.

"It is still fresh in my mind."

Erika Anderson, from the road, on tour, has this to say:

"I would love to go to that show. ... He keeps playing the same theaters we are but we're always about a week off!"