#351: For Your Pleasure, Roxy Music
RS’s list of the Top 500 Albums of All Time is many things, but it is not well-written. (Not that my reviews ARE well-written, but that’s the whole joke, isn’t it?) For example, the blurb for this record calls it “the pop equivalent of Ultrasuede: highly stylish, abstract-leaning art rock.” What the hell is that supposed to mean? Fake leather is “abstract?” At least all my metaphors make sense.
Anyway, For Your Pleasure is the pop equivalent of Funyuns: wildly popular for some reason. While Avalon was the group’s final album together, this was their final album with keyboard mystic Brian Eno. (Side note, Eno’s commitment to shoulder-length hair in the face of male pattern baldness is admirable. He pulls it off!)
Eno left the group shortly after touring for this album, citing differences with lead singer and frontman Bryan Ferry. Bryan Ferry is not my favorite part of Roxy Music, mainly because he insists on murmuring the whole time. It kind of ruined some otherwise brilliant tunes for me — in my notes for “Beauty Queen,” I wrote down, Maybe if Brian Eno was singing I would like this one. The only vocal moment of his that I enjoyed was on their peppiest tune, “Editions Of You,” where he buoyantly declares that Boys will be boys will be boyoyoyyys.
The saving grace for me was honestly the rest of the band. Andy Mackay is the horn section, and he put some semblance of life on the creepy “Do The Strand.” Phil Manzanera’s guitar saved many of the songs for me, particularly “Strictly Confidential,” where Ferry attempts a hideous falsetto. They’re a good band! This is good music!
There were a few songs with an undeniable brilliance. I did love the droning “In Every Dream Home A Heartache,” an ode to a blow-up doll where Ferry’s voice actually makes sense. (Although I wonder if his supermodel girlfriend Amanda Lear, the babe on the cover, liked it very much.) “The Bogus Man” is a jaunty ten-minute jam that (mercifully) mixes Ferry’s voice so low that you can barely hear it. And “For Your Pleasure” is pure Eno, layered and spacey and … featuring Dame Judi Dench? Sure, why not.
I know I’ve been ripping on Bryan Ferry, but I actually have nothing against him or his voice. I had to keep reminding myself that American warbling punk singers don’t bother me in the slightest. Iggy Pop, Glenn Danzig, Kathleen Hanna? Obsessed with all of them. Ferry is living proof that Brits with bad voices can sing, too, and I think that’s beautiful.
Song I Was Surprised That I Loved: “Grey Lagoons” is fairly slow compared to the rest, but I seriously loved the lyrics. Satin teardrops on velvet lights/ Morning sickness on Friday nights. You win this round, Bryan Ferry.