USA Gets Ready For Roxy - Sat 14th Jul

USA Gets Ready For Roxy
14 July 2001

This article is from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

British art rock band touring for the first time in 18 years
By Tom Moon
Knight Ridder Newspapers
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 re-learning 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 actually happy to be focusing on vintage Roxy Music, particularly the material from such inventive albums as "For Your Pleasure" (1973), which Ferry says is his personal favorite, 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)
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 traveled in weird irregular orbits, and presaged the British new wave of the early "80s. By 1982's austere masterpiece "Avalon," the more forthright rock rhythms had been replaced by eerie, sumptuous drones that made Ferry's harmonies seem otherworldly.
Ferry, who 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,
says that the "Avalon" material represents a particular challenge: "That record has such its own atmosphere, it almost needs to be presented as a little suite. It would be nice to do that. And I know people want to try "More Than This.' We've never played that live."
And though he's nearing completion on his next solo project _ which he
describes as a "real rock record with lots of guitars" _ 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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