Bryan Ferry – Bête Noire (V2474) (1987)

SAM_0182Cut, as they are, from much the same cloth, how you rate Bryan Ferry‘s second post-Roxy Music solo album depends very much on your opinion about Avalon, Roxy’s last studio Lp, and Boys and Girls, the singer’s previous solo record. If you regard a combination of atmosphere, groove and languidity as the height of sophistication, then Bête Noire is, indeed, a good bet. If, however, you believe Ferry’s modus operadi smacks of sterility and melody dearthness, then you’ll want to search elsewhere for your kicks. Though its silken allure begins to wane by the second song on side two, I still like it.

Co-produced by Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard to very high technical specs. Another £1 VG+ rekkid from Ashford yesterday.SAM_0183

Published in: on November 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Bryan Ferry – Boys and Girls

While there’s no doubt that Mr. Ferry, and Boys and Girls in particular, virtually defines a kind of languid, sophisticated cool, the most effortlessly cool thing I saw in the Derby charity shops was the disabled man, accompanied by his parents, who, like us, was making a Thrifty Day of it going from store to store. He wore a bright blue t-shirt with white lettering reading: I’M AUTISTIC.

Brilliant. Say it loud, brother!

Derby is blessed with at least eight chazzas, nonetheless this fairly common item (from the city’s Bernardos) was all I managed to thrift–oh well, he will no doubt be happy joining his frères dans le tourne disque bibliothèque d’Asbo.

Published in: on August 30, 2011 at 8:13 am  Leave a Comment  

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)  

Madonna – You Can Dance (1987)

You can dance if you want to, you can leave your friends behind, 'cos your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, well they're no friends of mine.Cheap Laughs Dept.

…SAID NO-ONE EVER — POP EDITION!

Directions: Using only your smart-assedness and knowledge of classic rock lore, attribute an unlikely quote to a popular musician. Like so…

  • “I’m sorry, if Bill Wyman quits, I quit too,” said Keith Richards. “It’s just not the Rolling Stones without him.”
  • “Favourite Beatles song?” said George Harrison. “Definitely either ‘Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand’ or ‘Sie Liebt Dich.'”
  • “Thanks, no,” said Keith Moon. “I’ve already had one and I’m driving,”
  • “We should give Mick Taylor writing credit on this one,” said Mick Jagger.
  • “Okay, now it’s time to record one of your songs Artie,” said Paul Simon.
  • “I don’t think it’s quite far out enough,” said Mike Love. “Bring the upside down water cooler bottles much higher in the mix.”
  • “Can we do another take,” said Carlos Santana. “I think I may have overplayed a bit on that last one.”
  • “Eno’s a clever fellow, but he can’t really play anything,” said Bryan Ferry. “What he does, he does very well but it’s necessarily limited music.”*
  • “Turn my amp down for me, will you,” said Richie Blackmore.
  • “Before we start the next number,” said Sid Vicious. “Give me a moment to tune my bass.”
  • “Marijuana’s alright,” said Bob Marley. “But not when I’m working. I need a clear head.”
  • “No, Colonel Parker,” said Elvis Presley.
  • “I think we’ll let the music sell the album,” said Madonna.
  • “I will defer to you on that decision, Rick,” said Roger Waters.
  • “Yes, Mojo, do come in–we’ve much to discuss,” said Van Morrison.

Now you try! It’s fun, it’s easy and it doesn’t cost a penny, only the withering of your already bitter and atrophied heart and the wasting of what precious little time you have left on Earth!

*whoops, Ferry actually did say that.

Editor’s note: I bought You Can Dance when it came out on cassette. An odd bespoke remix/singles hybrid, there is a percussion and keyboard thread that runs thought this segued Lp giving it continuity.

Published in: on February 8, 2013 at 11:07 am  Comments (10)  

Roxy Music – ‘Stranded’ (ILPS9252) (1973)

RoxyROXY FACE US BOYCOTT OVER NEW Lp COVER             Failure To Show Nips Will ‘Hurt Sales’ Says Atco London, England — Outrageous British art rock band, Roxy Music, are facing the ire of American record consumers over claims they deliberately obscured cover model Marilyn Cole’s nipples on the gatefold sleeve of their new Lp ‘Stranded’. A storm of protest has greeted Atco offices demanding the album be withdrawn until a new cover shot with exposed chapel hat pegs can be substituted.

“This was a definite provocation,” says Marta Josephs, whose consumer group Nipples On Roxy Music LPs (NORML), is spearheading a boycott of the third Roxy album. “How much effort would it have been to push that clingy, sopping wet dress and inch either side to show Miss Cole’s papillae? I mean, she’s turned the high beams on.”

“And, Jesus, doesn’t it just look like she’s got dinner plates an’ all,” she added.

Protesters have not been swayed by the fact that a small section of the model’s left areola is visible. Commenting on the backlash, Roxy Music lead singer Bryan Ferry said: “Bowing to pressure groups is obviously anathema to an artist, but I have heard your anxieties and I promise the next Roxy album will feature both visible head lamps and spiders legs.” MusicEditor’s note: from a boot fair in Headcorn, my favorite Roxy album.

Published in: on December 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm  Comments (7)  

Bette Midler (SD 7270) (1973)

Side one of Bette Mildler’s second Lp makes a strong case for the Divine Miss M’s pre-eminence as a torch singer nonpareil. Yet her approach, while reverent, is thoroughly modern. As a result, wrenching and beautiful piano-led (pianist: B. Manilow) takes on songs by Carmichael, Mercer, Brecht-Weill, etc. sound of a piece with those by contemporary singer-songwriters. (I wonder what the woman could have done with a set of Randy Newman covers?) Admirable diversity comes in the form of a funky “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” and a soulful “I Shall Be Released”, demonstrating what Rolling Stone called her ability to find the “emotional center” of the song, even while the latter is marred by some too-jaunty piano fills and breathy over-emoting during the final third. The second side, however, trades in the parched nostalgia of an arch Ethel Merman that I, for one, can do without.

An interesting illustration of the contrasting American and British approaches to art in general can be gleaned by comparing Bette Midler with Bryan Ferry’s no-less-camp first solo album, “These Foolish Things”, which came out the same year. Both albums contain tunes from the Tin Pan Alley-era songbook, some soul covers, teen angst and a Dylan. Yet, conceptualised in a way born of decadence and a tremulous, limited singing ability, Ferry brutally (and often hilariously) recasts his covers program with a high degree of personality and perversity; whereas Midler, hampered by a reverence and technical finesse beyond Ferry, renders her version of the oldies artifice stale, at least on side two. Put another way: Americans use technique to arrive at a style and the British follow the precise opposite route, delighting in an aesthetic frivolity opposed to exacting and sentimental recreation. Why this is broadly (though, obviously, not always) so probably has something to do with the conditions of our respective empires, i.e. faded (UK) and just peaked (US), but that’s for another article.

While it has been argued that Ferry’s approach serves to diminish “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and “These Foolish Things” to the level of “It’s My Party” (rather than Midler’s converse but likewise bold elevation of “Da Doo Run Run” to the status of “I Shall Be Released” and “Skylark”), I still know which album I’ll be listening to more often.

Spotted at Lord Whiskey in Rhodes Minnis yesterday as I cycled back from dropping off the car for servicing in Elham, I was moved, for the second time in three days, to buy based on the presence of Arif Mardin behind the producer’s desk.

Published in: on June 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm  Comments (5)  

Teenie Chenault and the Country Rockers (ERS-517)

I can’t tell from the (autographed!) sleeve and research is inconclusive, but I believe this is a compilation of 60s singles by Virginia country musician Teenie Chenault released around 1969-1970 and may have been produced by Pete Drake. And 90˚straight edge high-lonesome country it is with pedal steel cryin’ in every alcohol consumption/relationship troubles song; the only exception to the good lovin’ gone bad scenerio is “You’re No Inspiration” and that’s about a woman who doesn’t cheat, run around, beat time, etc. on her man and is therefore “no inspiration, Gracie, for a hit song.” Nice little turnaround there.

While the song-writing and vocal delivery inevitably lack the panache of the first-rate country singers of the day, the band is very good and there’s something otherwise heartwarming about this nifty regional C&W Lp: In a sense, it’s real folk music, you know.

Awesome cover that I have to suppose is of an earlier vintage; even country singers, who are, almost by definition, several years behind the times, wouldn’t look like that by the turn of decade, though, funny enough, Bryan Ferry certainly looked like Teenie (below) a couple years later. Chenault’s band were regulars at Wheeling, West Virginia’s Jamboree USA, which is just a few miles from my Grandparents place, so it’s possible that I would have seen the Country Rockers advertised as a young boy.

The most interesting piece of writing I found about Chenault comes from the book, Tourette – That’s What Makes Me Tic, starting on page 108.

What this record was doing in Faversham, I don’t know; but what I was doing in Faversham was looking for records like this.

Published in: on March 27, 2012 at 8:56 am  Comments (15)