Yesterday morning was a Roxy Music morning around the apartment, not so odd a development considering they’re one of the pillars of my specific taste-sphere, and just stone-cold legends, objectively. The Roxy-ness of the day was cemented when my Bought-early copy of Matador’s Brighten the Corners reissue showed up, and the bonus live LP had “Remake/Remodel” listed among its tracklist. After uttering a quick “no fucking way” and slapping it down on the turntable, my utterance was confirmed, as those Pavement boys couldn’t resist a posthumous bit of dickery, and the track was actually BTC‘s “Type Slowly.” Then it sort of morphed into a Pavement afternoon, but we’ll stick to the original script.
Getting mad at the lack of scope in a Rolling Stone list is like getting mad at the sun for rising, and yet, and yet…the absence of Bryan Ferry on the recent 100 Greatest Singers of All Time still raised my hackles (that’s a synonym for middle fingers, right?). I guess the outbreaks of goatman vibrato puts people off, despite gained degree of difficulty points? I mean, I love the Velvets and all, but I would swap Lou Reed out for Ferry in a millisecond. More range, more oddity, and capable of much more subtle beauty and lung wattage than Lou ever was. Roxy seem likes forgotten titans to me sometimes, and it makes me unreasonably sad.
Roxy Music – “Mother of Pearl”
(Live in Germany, 1974)
Surely, if the list were slightly amended to say Top 100 Frontmen of All Time, and compiled by people who actually like music, there’d be no way to leave Ferry off. Look at him up there, leading a scruffy bunch of glam mercenaries, impeccably tuxedoed. Can you think of a current bandleader, or hell, even one from the similar time period, who could pull that off without it seeming unbearable? With Ferry it just seems a natural extension of his class and elocution (though clearly its all part of the act). Once the song gets past its initial rock riffing, and into the smooth brilliance it carries to conclusion, Ferry is a marvel to watch. Check his movements around the three minute mark. As the camera zooms in, he’s singing, “Now I’ve seen that something, just out of reach-glowing-very holy grail.” But beyond just singing it with feeling, and perfectly yearning tone, he’s actually reaching towards the studio’s shining lights, transfixed. The camera man has nothing to do but follow the staging suggested by his stage presence, and suddenly a typical bit of TV studio camera work becomes a dramatic touch, forwarding the song’s narrative. It’s level of thoughtfulness and execution beyond the performances you typically see. High praise in rock performance often goes to precise but rote choreography or wild, impulsive abandon; this is more refined, more elegant than either.
*Note: I had hoped to get this up yesterday, to satisfy the required “hump” day concept, but my internet went down, and the cosmos cared little for my plight….