Bryan Ferry Solo Albums

In recognition of our joint appearance at Paddock Wood’s Hop Farm Festival yesterday and in celebration of years of crate-digging I present this cross-section of Bryan Ferry solo records. Actually, crate-digging might be over stating the case somewhat–at least in this country it’s more like crate-shooting-fish-in-a-barrel given that the Roxy Music singer is, along with Rod Stewart, perhaps the most chaz store spotted of all critically approved rock singers (i.e. not Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, et. al.).

With Roxy, Ferry is responsible for any number of indie rock moves; solo, he virtually invented the ironic cover version. So next time you hear Peckerwood or the Blind Boy Grunts do “Sugar, Sugar” or “Break My Stride” at your local music club you have Baz to thank. In fact, “ironic” might be a tad unfair. John Coltrane got stick for covering the cheesy “My Favorite Things” but music scholar Lewis Porter argued that ‘Trane was actually bringing out a depth inherent in the song, maybe even one unknown to the writer. I think something similar goes with Ferry, especially on the self-titled solo debut (purchased a few years ago in Ashford after my CD copy simply stopped working), which still has the power to shock equating, as it does, Leslie Gore, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Noel Coward and Jagger/Richards. By Another Time, Another Place (had from Hythe’s Demelza House), the one with the hippy baiting “You spoil us ambassador” cover, the shock had worn off even as the band upped the rock quotient. I got a sealed copy of the (actually quite good) odds ‘n’ sods compilation “Let’s Stick Together” at a flea market in Ohio coming home from a friend’s wedding over a decade and a half ago; on the same day I got a couple Al Green Lps and the Flying Burrito Bros second album–nice. Coincidently, on the day I got ’77’s excellent, all-original and most Roxy-like In Your Mind at a boot fair in Sutton Valence, I met a bassist friend who told me he was working on Bryan Ferry’s new album Olympia. He’d toured with Bryan behind the Dylanesque record so it wasn’t a complete surprise, but it was still cool.

Like most of his solo efforts, yesterday’s set was cover heavy with among others at least three Dylan versions, a Neil Young, a Beatles and a John Lennon, “The In-Crowd”, plus a few Roxy numbers. The only song from any of the above records was “Let’s Stick Together”. I gave my 15-year old son a quid for successfully identifying “What Goes On” as a Velvet Underground original–you see, that’s how we roll in my family.

Nominal Californians, Eagles were last night’s headline act at the Hop Farm. I’m guesssing their song choice and onstage patter were unchanged from time immemorial, but it was still an impressive, well-loved performance, not least because of some spot on lead vox and lush as fuck harmonies, even if Joe Walsh’s hair was suspiciously lustrous. Oddly, given a fairly deep catalogue, there were loads of (a third?) solo and James Gang songs included in the show, but at least no Glen Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues”, the worst song God ever let loose on Creation. Though I could have done with more of the country rock stuff, the highlight of the evening was Tim Schmit’s atypical Philly soul, soft rock “I Can’t Tell You Why”.

I went and got a beer during one of the songs from their last album, which may or may not have been the title track to 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden.

Published in: on July 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. i bet you weren’t the only one to get a beer when the eagles played one “off our latest album”… i may have related this story before, but anyway i saw bowie at the old trafford cricket ground a few years back, and he started with a few old 70’s classics and the crowd were contentedly singing along like pigs in shit, and then came the deadly announcement “this is off my latest album”… cue streams of now-mute punters making their way out the back of the ground for a piss/beer/hotdog/whatever (still, at least it shut up the guy bellowing along tunelessly behind me!)

    what is it with these egotistical superstars? don’t they know that their fans just want to hear the oldies? the fact is that practically all rock’s big names have proven to be creatively bankrupt after their first 10 years in the biz… never mind the eagles and bowie, how many great works has macca come up with in the last 30 years (other than the frog chorus, of course ha ha)… or the stones… or dylan… or rod… or lou… or clappo… or reg? the only exception for me is mr ferry, who peaked just around the time he should have nosedived (according to my decade-burnout theory) with roxy’s “avalon” and solo “boys and girls”, the latter a stylish and timeless classic despite being produced in the age of plastic music…

    btw, is your bass-playing friend guy pratt by any chance?

  2. As usual, I am reminded of an episode of the Simpsons. During his guest appearance, Jackson Browne announced he was going to play “a new one” to audible groans from all those in attendance. “Just kidding,” he said before playing a re-working a song off Running On Empty.

    Actually, I feel a bit shallow dismissing an artist’s newer material, why shouldn’t they have a go? In this case, I was thirsty and the song was a bit pretentious.

    Boys & Girls and Bete Noir are extensions of Avalon’s atmospherics–good stuff.

    Jerry Meehan is Bryan’s bassist (he also did the recent Roxy gigs). No slouch.

  3. […] approaches to art in general can be made with Bryan Ferry’s no-less-camp first solo album, “These Foolish Things”,which came out the same year as Bette Midler. Both albums contain tunes from the Tin Pan Alley-era […]

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