MONM 2011 Day 3: Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure
Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure (Island, 1973)
This time out, I’ll just focus on the two tracks that really grabbed me – the first tracks of each side of For Your Pleasure. “Do the Strand” opens the album in a marvellously ridiculous fashion, urging listeners who are “tired of the tango, fed up with fandango” to indulge in the titular dance without ever stooping to explaining its moves. All you have to know is that it’s “a danceable solution to teenage revolution,” and that “The sphynx and Mona Lisa, Lolita and Guernica did the strand.” The verses aren’t even particularly danceable, with the minor key melody coming on like a threat. The track rests almost entirely on Bryan Ferry’s swagger to sell it (well, that, some vaguely sinister saxophones, and a pretty rockin’ breakdown) and he makes it seem effortless.
The second side, meanwhile, opens with the nine-plus-minute “The Bogus Man,” an atmospheric workout that comes across like Brian Eno’s rebuttal to Ferry’s pop ambition. It’s all swirling reverb, discordant horns and fragments of guitar melodies, with Ferry in full-on spook mode, and the whole thing has the kind of texture you can just get lost in.
It’s fitting that those two tracks pretty well epitomize the tension in Ferry and Eno’s musical relationship, because that sense that the collaboration could tear apart at any moment is exactly what makes the album so fascinating. The skronky solos in the balls-out “Editions of You,” the dueling-guitars-in-space ending of “Strictly Confidential,” the anti-melodic keyboards in “In Every Dream Home A Heartbreak,” all of them are possible because of a brilliant blend of genuine theatricality and relentless experimentation. Pure genius.