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Rock - Released March 23, 1973 | EG Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Stereophile: Record To Die For
On Roxy Music's debut, the tensions between Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry propelled their music to great, unexpected heights, and for most of the group's second album, For Your Pleasure, the band equals, if not surpasses, those expectations. However, there are a handful of moments where those tensions become unbearable, as when Eno wants to move toward texture and Ferry wants to stay in more conventional rock territory; the nine-minute "The Bogus Man" captures such creative tensions perfectly, and it's easy to see why Eno left the group after the album was completed. Still, those differences result in yet another extraordinary record from Roxy Music, one that demonstrates even more clearly than the debut how avant-garde ideas can flourish in a pop setting. This is especially evident in the driving singles "Do the Strand" and "Editions of You," which pulsate with raw energy and jarring melodic structures. Roxy also illuminate the slower numbers, such as the eerie "In Every Dream Home a Heartache," with atonal, shimmering synthesizers, textures that were unexpected and innovative at the time of its release. Similarly, all of For Your Pleasure walks the tightrope between the experimental and the accessible, creating a new vocabulary for rock bands, and one that was exploited heavily in the ensuing decade. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 1, 1973 | EG Records

Without Brian Eno, Roxy Music immediately became less experimental, yet they remained adventurous, as Stranded illustrates. Under the direction of Bryan Ferry, Roxy moved toward relatively straightforward territory, adding greater layers of piano and heavy guitars. Even without the washes of Eno's synthesizers, Roxy's music remains unsettling on occasion, yet in this new incarnation, they favor more measured material, whether it's the reflective "A Song for Europe" or the shifting textures of "Psalm." Even the rockers, such as the surging "Street Life" and the segmented "Mother of Pearl," are distinguished by subtle songwriting that emphasizes both Ferry's tortured glamour and Roxy's increasingly impressive grasp of sonic detail. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released August 1, 1976 | EG Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1981 | EG Records

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
One might be forgiven for mistaking the Lounge Lizards' debut album for a traditional jazz release at a glance, what with the two Thelonious Monk covers and the participation of producer Teo Macero (who had previously worked with such heavyweights as Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and Ella Fitzgerald, to name just a few). No, while there's definitely great respect shown here for the jazz tradition, the members are obviously coming at it from different backgrounds -- most especially guitarist Arto Lindsay, whose occasional atonal string scraping owes far more to his experience in New York City's no wave scene than to quote unquote traditional jazz. In fact, the two aforementioned Monk covers seem a strange choice when you actually hear the band, which has more in common with sonic experimentalists like Ornette Coleman or Sun Ra. That's not to say that this is too experimental; saxophonist and lead Lizard John Lurie knows when to blow noise and when to blow melody, and ex-Feelies drummer Anton Fier manages to infuse a good rock feel into the drum parts even when he's playing incredibly complex rhythms. The end result is a album that neatly straddle both worlds, whether it's the noir-ish "Incident on South Street," the art-funk of "Do the Wrong Thing," or the thrash-bebop found in "Wangling"." © Sean Carruthers /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1992 | EG Records

Not the best compilation that could be assembled -- anything missing "The Wait," for one thing, can't be seen as truly definitive -- Laugh? is still a reasonable overview of the first decade of Killing Joke and its checkered but still important history. Very wisely, the emphasis is given to the band's artistic rather than commercial highlights -- only one song from Brighter Than a Thousand Suns turns up, namely the quixotic choice of an alternate mix of "Wintergardens," while nothing from Outside the Gate appears at all. Instead, the vast majority of the disc consists of selections from the first three albums plus a variety of rarities, the better to tempt the hardcore fan with most everything already. The choice of the overtly dub-influenced "Turn to Red" from the debut single was an inspired one, throwing a light on that part of Killing Joke's origins and how the group transformed it into already fiendishly nervous, intense rock. Other relative obscurities include the strong live take of "Pssyche" from Ha! and "Sun Goes Down" from Birds of a Feather. This latter track features some of Ferguson's best drumming -- one can practically feel his sticks hit the drumheads full-on -- while Coleman's singing and Geordie's guitar create one of the most mournful, melancholy numbers in the band's repertoire. The remainder of the tracks are unchanged album selections, most understandable ones, including "Requiem" and "Wardance" from the self-titled album, "Follow the Leaders" and "Unspeakable" from What's THIS For..., and "Empire Song" and "Chop-Chop" from Revelations. Adding the likes of "Eighties" and "Love Like Blood" acknowledges the group's later smoothness in the '80s without serving up embarrassing reminders of same, a wise move. The bitterly funny cover art -- the notorious Catholic cardinal saluting the Nazis' image, altered to include financial symbols -- is a crowning touch. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | EG Records

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra was one of those delightfully unclassifiable groups. Not really classical, not really jazz; sort of minimalist, and decidedly not new age (despite their usual classification), the PCO blended the first three of those ingredients into a quirky, beautiful, and timeless music that sounds like no one else. Lots of strings, piano, harmonium, bass, and ukuleles are the main instruments, and the music they produce is pretty, humorous, and utterly unique. Preludes, Airs & Yodels is a collection (one couldn't really use the term "Greatest Hits" for the PCO) that features many of their best-loved tunes like the "Penguin Cafe Single," "Air à Danser," and "Telephone and Rubber Band" (What? No "Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas?"). "Music for a Found Harmonium" actually appears three times: the original version by the PCO, a version by the traditional Irish band Patrick Street, and an electronicized version whipped up by pioneering electronica act the Orb. To be honest, the Orb remix doesn't really fit into the flow of the album all that well, but the point they make about the wide-ranging appeal of the group is well-taken (and it's easy enough to program out). The remastered sound is a marked improvement over their individual albums (as of 2004), and this compilation could serve as the perfect entry point for the curious. Once you hear it, you'll probably want to pick up the four-CD box, History, which contains the rest of their recordings along with various unreleased outtakes and live performances. This is great stuff. © Sean Westergaard /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1999 | EG Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Flesh + Blood suggested that Roxy Music were at the end of the line, but they regrouped and recorded the lovely Avalon, one of their finest albums. Certainly, the lush, elegant soundscapes of Avalon are far removed from the edgy avant-pop of their early records, yet it represents another landmark in their career. With its stylish, romantic washes of synthesizers and Bryan Ferry's elegant, seductive croon, Avalon simultaneously functioned as sophisticated make-out music for yuppies and as the maturation of synth pop. Ferry was never this romantic or seductive, either with Roxy or as a solo artist, and Avalon shimmers with elegance in both its music and its lyrics. "More Than This," "Take a Chance with Me," "While My Heart Is Still Beating," and the title track are immaculately crafted and subtle songs, where the shifting synthesizers and murmured vocals gradually reveal the melodies. It's a rich, textured album and a graceful way to end the band's career. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | EG Records

Released to herald a reunion of the band and superseding several out-of-print predecessors, The Best of Roxy Music is an excellent summary of the group's hits and album highlights between 1972 and 1982. There are really two editions of Roxy Music, the glam rock unit that achieved widespread U.K. success from 1972 to 1975, and the more polished one that was a broader international success from 1979 to 1982. The compilers have dealt with the dichotomy and the more lasting popularity of the later recordings by presenting the compilation in reverse chronological order, so that soft rock hits like "Over You" and "Dance Away," which scored in America, come before U.K.-only hits like "Street Life" and "Virginia Plain," which rock much harder. But all the major hits are here (only a couple of less-successful British singles chart entries are missing), augmented by memorable album tracks like "Do the Strand" and "Mother of Pearl." In print or not, this is the best single-disc collection of Roxy Music, since it is more complete than earlier compilations like the 1977 Greatest Hits and 1983 The Atlantic Years (1973-1980) LPs, and, unlike later best-ofs such as Street Life: 20 Great Hits (1986), The Ultimate Collection (1988), and More Than This: The Best of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music (1995) (the latter two U.K. releases), it is not divided between Bryan Ferry solo tracks and Roxy Music ones. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo