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Roxy Music

Roxy Music

Rock - Released June 16, 1972 | EG Records

Falling halfway between musical primitivism and art rock ambition, Roxy Music's eponymous debut remains a startling redefinition of rock's boundaries. Simultaneously embracing kitschy glamour and avant-pop, Roxy Music shimmers with seductive style and pulsates with disturbing synthetic textures. Although no musician demonstrates much technical skill at this point, they are driven by boundless imagination -- Brian Eno's synthesized "treatments" exploit electronic instruments as electronics, instead of trying to shoehorn them into conventional acoustic patterns. Similarly, Bryan Ferry finds that his vampiric croon is at its most effective when it twists conventional melodies, Phil Manzanera's guitar is terse and unpredictable, while Andy Mackay's saxophone subverts rock & roll clichés by alternating R&B honking with atonal flourishes. But what makes Roxy Music such a confident, astonishing debut is how these primitive avant-garde tendencies are married to full-fledged songs, whether it's the free-form, structure-bending "Re-Make/Re-Model" or the sleek glam of "Virginia Plain," the debut single added to later editions of the album. That was the trick that elevated Roxy Music from an art school project to the most adventurous rock band of the early '70s. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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For Your Pleasure

Roxy Music

Rock - Released March 1, 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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Stranded

Roxy Music

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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Country Life

Roxy Music

Rock - Released November 1, 1974 | EG Records

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
Continuing with the stylistic developments of Stranded, Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. At their best, Roxy combine these two extremes, like on the exhilarating opener "The Thrill of It All," but Country Life benefits considerably from the ebb and flow of the group's two extremes, since it showcases their deft instrumental execution and their textured, enthralling songwriting. And, in many ways, Country Life offers the greatest and most consistent set of Roxy Music songs, illustrating their startling depth. From the sleek rock of "All I Want Is You" and "Prairie Rose" to the elegant, string-laced pop of "A Really Good Time," Country Life is filled with thrilling songs, and Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Siren

Roxy Music

Rock - Released October 1, 1975 | EG Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Abandoning the intoxicating blend of art rock and glam-pop that distinguished Stranded and Country Life, Roxy Music concentrate on Bryan Ferry's suave, charming crooner persona for the elegantly modern Siren. As the disco-fied opener "Love Is the Drug" makes clear, Roxy embrace dance and unabashed pop on Siren, weaving them into their sleek, arty sound. It does come at the expense of their artier inclinations, which is part of what distinguished Roxy, but the end result is captivating. Lacking the consistently amazing songs of its predecessor, Siren has a thematic consistency that works in its favor, and helps elevate its best songs -- "Sentimental Fool," "Both Ends Burning," "Just Another High" -- as well as the album itself into the realm of classics. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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801 Live

Phil Manzanera

Rock - Released January 1, 1976 | EG Records

801 provided Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera with one of his most intriguing side projects. Although the band only played three gigs in August and September 1976, this album captures a night when everything fell right into place musically. That should only be expected with names like Eno and Simon Phillips in the lineup. (Still, the lesser-known players -- bassist Bill MacCormick, keyboardist Francis Monkman, and slide guitarist Lloyd Watson -- are in exemplary form, too.) The repertoire is boldly diverse, opening with "Lagrima," a crunchy solo guitar piece from Manzanera. Then the band undertakes a spacey but smoldering version of "Tomorrow Never Knows"; it's definitely among the cleverest of Beatles covers. Then it's on to crisp jazz-rock ("East of Asteroid"), atmospheric psych-pop ("Rongwrong"), and Eno's tape manipulation showcase, "Sombre Reptiles." And that's only the first five songs. The rest of the gig is no less audacious, with no less than three Eno songs -- including a frenetic "Baby's on Fire," "Third Uncle," and "Miss Shapiro"'s dense, syllable-packed verbal gymnastics. There's another unlikely cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," while Manzanera turns in another typically gutsy instrumental performance on "Diamond Head." This album marks probably one of the last times that Eno rocked out in such an unself-consciously fun fashion, but that's not the only reason to buy it: 801 Live is a cohesive document of an unlikely crew who had fun and took chances. Listeners will never know what else they might have done if their schedules had been less crowded, but this album's a good reminder. © Ralph Heibutzki /TiVo
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Viva! Roxy Music

Roxy Music

Rock - Released August 1, 1976 | EG Records

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U.K.

U.K.

Rock - Released January 1, 1978 | EG Records

The debut album from amalgamated progsters John Wetton, Bill Bruford, Eddie Jobson, and Allan Holdsworth has the edge over both Danger Money and Night After Night because of the synthesis of melody and rhythm that is inflicted through nearly every one of the eight tracks. While not as commercial sounding as Wetton's 1980s supergroup Asia, U.K. mustered up a progressive air by the use of intelligent keyboard and percussion interplay without sounding mainstream. Jobson's work with the electric violin and assorted synthesizers adds to an already profound astuteness carried by Wetton. Former Yes and Genesis drummer Bill Bruford is just as important behind the kit, making his presence felt on numbers like "Thirty Years" and "Nevermore." Without carrying the same rhythms or cadences through each song, U.K. implements some differentiation into their music, straying from the sometimes over-the-top musicianship that occurs with the gathering of such an elite bunch. The melodious finish of such tracks as "By the Light of Day" and "Alaska" showcases the overall fluency of each member, and shows no signs of any progressive tediousness that could have easily evolved. All three of U.K.'s albums are enjoyable, but the debut sports the most interest, since it spotlights their remarkable fit as a band for the first time. © Mike DeGagne /TiVo
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Ambient 1 / Music for Airports

Brian Eno

Ambient - Released March 1, 1978 | EG Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
When listening to Music For Airports for the first time, fans of the glam-Brian Eno from the Roxy Music period and his album Here Come The Warm Jets must have been blown away… Goodbye bowiesque sounds, hello the experiments of Terry Riley, Steve Reich, John Cage, LaMonte Young and other wisemen who were mad about minimalist music. In 1978, Eno (ahead of his time) conceived four long tracks of instrumental music each over 10 minutes long. Sounding like movies soundtracks, these explorations to the borders of new age and these climatic developments of an astonishing sensuality prefigure an entire part of what the electronic music will sound like a few years later, and ambient music in particular. All that’s left is to listen to the atmospheric masterpieces in airports… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Manifesto

Roxy Music

Rock - Released March 16, 1979 | EG Records

Returning to action after four years of solo projects, Roxy Music redefined its sound and agenda on Manifesto. More than ever, Roxy sounds like Bryan Ferry's backing band, as the group strips away its art rock influences, edits out the instrumental interludes in favor of concise pop songs, and adds layers of stylish disco rhythms. Although the songwriting is distressingly inconsistent, there are a number of wonderful moments on the record, particularly in the sighing "Angel Eyes" and the heartbroken "Dance Away." Still, trading sonic adventure for lush, accessible disco-pop isn't entirely satisfactory, even if it is momentarily seductive. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

Brian Eno & David Byrne

Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1981 | EG Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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A pioneering work for countless styles connected to electronics, ambience, and Third World music, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts expands on the fourth-world concepts of Hassell/Eno work with a whirlwind 45 minutes of worldbeat/funk-rock (with the combined talents of several percussionists and bassists, including Bill Laswell, Tim Wright, David van Tieghem, and Talking Heads' Chris Frantz) that's also heavy on the samples -- from radio talk-show hosts, Lebanese mountain singers, preachers, exorcism ceremonies, Muslim chanting, and Egyptian pop, among others. It's also light years away from the respectful, preservationist angles of previous generations' field recorders and folk song gatherers. The songs on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts present myriad elements from around the world in the same jumbled stew, without regard for race, creed, or color. As such, it's a tremendously prescient record for the future development of music during the 1980s and '90s. © TiVo
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The Lounge Lizards

The Lounge Lizards

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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Envy

Arto Lindsay

Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1984 | EG Records

Despite its smooth rhythms and concessions to pop, Envy more or less picks up where DNA left off. Arto's guitar wanders in and out of noiseland, producing some ear-shattering effects, but mostly this begins his musical odyssey with the sounds of his youth -- that is, Brazilian music. In fact, Lindsay occasionally sings in Portuguese. Which begs another point: Lindsay is not the greatest singer in the world, but the twists and turns that make this album uniquely wonderful help smooth over any problems one may have with his vocals. A startling and very successful debut. © John Dougan /TiVo
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Voices

Roger Eno

Pop - Released January 1, 1985 | EG Records

Roger Eno's first album continues in the vein of the songs he wrote for Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. Using piano and broad washes of synths, some treated by older brother Brian Eno, the younger Eno's pieces are slow, contemplative works of minimalism, similar to Erik Satie's "Gymnopedies." Yet the composer he is most similar to on Voices is labelmate Harold Budd, who also paints from the same palette. Daniel Lanois's production simply balances these elements and gives them depth, adding violin to the final track almost as a taste for Eno's next album. © Ted Mills /TiVo
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The Kiss And Other Movements

Michael Nyman

Classical - Released January 1, 1985 | EG Records

3 Stars - Good © TiVo
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Street Life - 20 Greatest Hits

Bryan Ferry

Rock - Released January 1, 1986 | EG Records

The first compilation to attempt an all-encompassing overview of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music's career, Street Life was originally released in 1986, four years on from the band's break-up. And, across four sides of vinyl, it represented one of the most lovingly compiled tombstones any band could receive. Subsequent compilations have, of course, undermined it a little, but still it's difficult to criticize a collection that wraps up every significant hit single that the two parties enjoyed, from "Virginia Plain" and the oft-overlooked "Pyjamarama" through to "Jealous Guy" and "Avalon," via "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Slave to Love." The packaging is distinctive, with tempting stills from long-ago TV appearances mingling with all the relevant LP sleeves, and if you should ever be looking for a one-stop reminder of the combo's unerring brilliance, this is it. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Master Strokes 1978-1985

Bill Bruford

Rock - Released January 1, 1986 | EG Records

When you're a drummer playing behind the vocal heights of Jon Anderson, the guitar virtuosity of Steve Howe, or the keyboard genius of Rick Wakeman, you may expect to be disregarded from time to time. Aside from die-hard fans of Yes or King Crimson, Bill Bruford's drumming is taken for granted more often than not, when in fact he's one of the finest rock drummers to emerge from the era. Master Strokes: 1978-1985 is a well-assembled compilation of some of Bruford's best drum work, spanning numerous styles and examples of percussive artistry. All 14 tracks explore the many sides of Bruford's repertoire, delving into jazz fusion, straightforward rock, and progressive rock, and laying out some entertaining examples of how much fire the drums can truly muster, not only in their bombastic state, but also as an accompaniment to other instruments and rhythms as well. Taking tracks from Feels Good to Me, One of a Kind, and Gradually Going Tornado, this collection stands as one of the best offerings of his solo work; from the attitude-laden "Hells Bells" to the steady flow of "Travels With Myself and Someone Else" to the imaginative "Fainting in Coils," every aspect of Bruford's percussive talents are covered. "The Drum Also Waltzes" and "Gothic 17" are two of the best out-of-the-ordinary cuts, exhibiting both hard and soft styles of drumming and cymbal playing. Presenting twice as many tracks as The Bruford Tapes, Master Strokes: 1978-1985 makes for the best one-stop for those who want to hear Bruford playing to his own ideas, tempos, and genres. © Mike DeGagne /TiVo
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Earthworks

Bill Bruford Earthworks

Rock - Released January 1, 1987 | EG Records

Drummer Bill Bruford made a name for himself in the '70s as a rock & roller of a progressive bent. In the '80s he formed the rather extraordinary jazz/fusion band that became Earthworks -- Bruford, saxophonist Iain Ballamy, keyboard and brass virtuoso Django Bates, and bassist Mick Hutton. This was their first album; an interesting one it was, though a later, live recording of the band presented some of the same material in a more highly developed state, rendering this original somewhat irrelevant. Bruford is a stiff-wristed player -- not a particularly subtle percussionist, though his compositional skills are apparently of a high quality (most of the tunes are co-written with other band members, so it's hard to know how much credit to give Bruford). The best thing about this band is its refreshing ingenuousness; they make intelligent, sophisticated instrumental pop music that doesn't pander in the least. This is their art, and a fine art it is. © Chris Kelsey /TiVo
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Bryan Ferry - The Ultimate Collection

Roxy Music

Rock - Released November 7, 1988 | EG Records

A companion (but not really) to the 1986 Street Life compilation, Ultimate Collection was released just two years later, yet thought nothing of restating half-a-dozen of its predecessor's tracks. It was a shocking miscalculation on the compilers' part for, had it not done so, The Ultimate Collection would have dovetailed with Street Life to create, indeed, the last word in Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry anthologies. Instead, it just seemed slapdash. Where Street Life concentrated on the two acts' biggest hits, The Ultimate Collection was concerned more with the tracks that slipped between the cracks, with further emphasis placed on Ferry's solo work. A heartpounding remix of "Let's Stick Together," 1977's curiously rockabilly-like "This Is Tomorrow," and the riff-laden revision of "The In Crowd" all leap out, alongside a stray Roxy hit omitted from Street Life, the churning "All I Want Is You." One newly recorded song, "He'll Have to Go," and a lovely collaboration with Nile Rodgers, "Help Me," furthered the album's brilliance, only for the entire, majestic edifice to be sent crashing down by the once-more-around reprises of "Love Is the Drug," "Slave to Love," "Jealous Guy" and so forth. And again, one wonders what the point was. Fans of the hits would have picked them up last time, fans of the odder stuff wouldn't have wanted them in any form. Or so one would presume. But Ultimate Collection reached number six in the U.K., proving that you can sell anything to anyone if you make them think it's worthwhile. And today, the record store shelves simply sag beneath the weight of so many identikit Roxy Music hits collections that complaining about a mere six duplications sounds positively over-reactionary. Things would be getting a lot worse very soon. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Laugh? I Nearly Bought One!

Killing Joke

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