Orlando: Art rock's back on a roll - Tue 17th Jul

Knight Ridder Tribune Posted July 17, 2001, 3:12 PM EDT

Several weeks ago, on the first day of rehearsals for the Roxy Music reunion tour, Bryan Ferry deliberated out loud about the best way to perform the songs of his much beloved -- and long missing -- British art-rock band: Exactly the way they were recorded, or with lots of new embellishments, extra solos, all the contemporary bells and whistles? "Sometimes it's nice to recreate note by note the record," the 55-year-old singer said thoughtfully, explaining that he and the others were "blowing the cobwebs off everything" and relearning 40 or so vintage songs they had chosen for the tour. "It's good for someone who loved those records and hasn't heard them in a long time. "To us, doing an exact recreation isn't a vulgar thing -- you can honor the songs that way. But at the same time it'll be exciting to expand the songs a bit. Since it'll be the original people who played on the records, it could be interesting to see where they'll go." For this trek, which marks the 30th aniversary of the band's inception, Ferry and the other musicians are happy to focus on vintage Roxy Music, particularly the material from such inventive albums as For Your Pleasure (1973), and Avalon (1982). It's the band's first tour in 18 years, and, says guitarist Phil Manzanera, part of what enticed the musicians to return was that there was no pressure to develop new material. "The offer was for a limited time frame, and it would be a celebration of Roxy," he says. "It's good there's no new material, because everyone can just relax. The fans are not going to have new stuff foisted on them. And the musicians can concentrate on coming to the songs with a fresh perspective." The fans don't expect anything less: In its '70s heyday, Roxy Music's songs represented some of the freshest thinking in rock. Combining the squiggled keyboard textures of Brian Eno, who left after two albums and is not touring, with Manzanera's needling guitar and Ferry's perpetually weary voice, the band made music that aspired to cool, austere art without any of the pretension that later engulfed art-rock. The phrases of 1975's Siren -- the album that contains the band's biggest radio hit, "Love Is the Drug" -- offered plenty of hooks, but hooks that presaged the British New Wave of the early '80s. Ferry credits a tour he did last year to support his torch song collection As Time Goes By with helping him warm to a Roxy reunion. And though he's nearing completion on his next solo project, Ferry doesn't rule out recording with his old band. "We all agreed to just focus on the tour right now. If we're still speaking after Sept. 30, then we'll talk about it.

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