Friday, 24 June 2016

"For Your Pleasure" by ROXY MUSIC (Inside 2012's 'The Complete Studio Albums' 10CD Box Set Of Remasters On Virgin) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Swimming Pool Eyes…" 

What clobbers you most about re-listening to Roxy Music in this flash all-encompassing lump is the sheer 'quality' of what's on offer. They were good - I mean they were bloody good. I'd suspect that most music lovers have forgotten just how innovative, off-the-wall and downright sassy they were (and this is before we talk about a peerless run of top notch chart-singles that only got better as they progressed).

In amidst all 10 album-displays of glam, mascara and feather boas lurks CD2 - 1973's "For Your Pleasure" - rather grandly announced on the inner glossy gatefold of the original LP as 'the second Roxy Music Album'. Their June 1972 debut "Roxy Music" had stunning tracks like "If There Is Something" (used to such amazing effect in the Daniel Craig movie "Flashbacks Of A Fool") – but the follow-up raised that high bar even more. It's the kind of album that impresses all the way through - a Side-to-Side experience. But what's the best way to own it?

In 2016 there's many ways to get "For Your Pleasure" by ROXY MUSIC – the tasty stand-alone HDCD release from September 1999 on Virgin ROXYCD2 (use Barcode 724384744922 to locate that issue) with a John Anthony Remaster is a great buy (and cheap too). 

But I'd argue that this is a band worth a splash of your dodgy cash so splurge on the 2012 Remaster within ROXY MUSIC "The Complete Studio Recordings" 10CD Box Set on Virgin 5099944021726 (use Barcode 5099944021726 to locate it). Here are the details (42:25 minutes):

Side 1:
1. Do The Strand
2. Beauty Queen
3. Strictly Confidential
4. Editions Of You
5. In Every Dream Home A Heartache

Side 2:
6. The Bogus Man
7. Grey Lagoons
8. For Your Pleasure
Tracks 1 to 8 are the "For Your Pleasure – The Second Roxy Music Album" - released March 1973 in the UK on Island ILPS 9232 and in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2696. Produced by Chris Thomas and Roxy Music - it peaked at No. 4 on the UK LP charts.

A little about presentation first... The 6” x 6” Box is hard and glossy as are each of the gorgeous gatefold sleeves contained within. Apart from basic credits on the rear - there's little else by way of info. Each of the over-sized repro gatefold sleeves within has a different coloured inner sleeve (with no info on either side) and each disc is a picture CD reflecting he album's front cover artwork. The "Singles, B-Sides And Alternate Mixes" 2CD set after the 8 albums is housed in a gold-coloured hard card gatefold sleeve (with gold inners) with the basic track lists on the inner gatefold and nothing else. No booklet.

To be clear about this - the box set says nothing anywhere about mastering or remastering - but it seems to be presumed that these are different from the 2000 HDCD remasters. They're supposedly 'flat transfers' and new 2012 versions. Whatever you look at it - they 'sound' amazing - clean, full of presence and possessed of beautiful warmth that feels close to the original analogue Island Records laminated gatefold sleeve marvels we all so loved so much back in the day. Roxy Music were notoriously 'audiophile' in their Productions from the get go so the sound quality on these CDs is pretty much reference.

"Do The Strand" is so Roxy Music - mad sounds that somehow seem like a coherent Rock song with Ferry's warbling vocals sailing above all and sundry. But true RM greatness turns up with the wonderful "Beauty Queen" where Ferry sings "...said you'll go far...maybe someday be a star..." You get this plinking keyboard sound from both Ferry and Brian Eno while John Porter's Bass anchors the song - but just as you think you know where its at - the tune goes fast and nuts halfway through only to return to the slow crawl (lyrics from it title this review). "Strictly Confidential" slinks in with a lone Obie from Andy Mackay and again builds with Phil Manzanera's guitar going bananas in some places. There can't be too many Roxy fans that don't chew up the bopper "Editions Of You" and I always wondered why Island Records 'UK' didn't try it as a 7" single (Warners USA put it on the B-side of "Do The Strand" in July 1973 on Warner Brothers 7119). Don't you just love that guitar and keyboard racket they make as the song rattles to its final note slide. Side 1 ends on the wickedly good and terminally cool "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" where Ferry comments on 'Smart Town Apartments' and 'Open Plan Living' - things he'd embrace himself quite soon.

Side 2 opens with the relentless beat of "The Bogus Man" - nine minutes of pumping proto rhythm – sinister and slightly icky. As Ferry’s treated double-vocals warble on about someone “ your heels...clutching at your coat...” and the guitars flick and jerk - you're reminded of Talking Heads four years before their American sound took the US New Wave scene by storm. After the lengthy drone of the boogie man - "Grey Lagoons" immediately feels more lightweight - both Mackay and Ferry letting rip on Saxophone and Piano (I 'think' that's Eno's synth sounds treated to sound like a strangulated Harmonica). Island would use the album closer and title track "For Your Pleasure" as the B-side to the non-album "Both Ends Burning" single (Island WIP 6262) in December 1975. Again it's one of those Roxy moments you can't quite categorize as Ferry's 'ta ra' vocals skit in and out of the mix - floating above all those musical soundscapes...

Packed with hits and sleepers that deserve your dollar - "The Complete Studio Albums" 10CD Box Set sports gorgeous sound and albums that are better than you remember them. And as I read that Roxy's Make-up for the inner gatefold was done by Antony Price and their Hair was done by 'Smile' - I raise a smile myself - them was the days baby. Nobody made a sound like Roxy Music in 1973. Sure the Box Set is a pricey way to acquire "For Your Pleasure" and the cube has its flaws too (no booklet) - but like Brian Ferry's wardrobe - it still looks the part and is always going to pull the girls...

Do The Strand and Do The Glam Baby! And I wonder what happened to Amanda's tiger on the front cover - probably in rehab for big cats sipping an iced Marguerita. I like to think so...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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