On this date in 1973, the Bryan Ferry-led band Roxy Music won a reader’s poll in NME for “the most promising new name.” While this doesn’t say anything about their music, they had released their eponymous debut album by this time. Roxy Music tried to (and succeeded in) incorporating many different aspects from band’s like Traffic, Soft Machine, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson to create their own sound which paved the way for the New Wave and synth-pop movement. Rarely in rock and roll history did bands incorporate as much avant garde material as Roxy Music utilized. Let’s take a closer look at their 1972 debut.
The album opens with the ‘love song’ “Remake/Remodel” with every instrument taking a solo in five and a half minutes. Yes, that chorus ‘CPL 593H’ is a license plate to a car, spotted by Ferry, driven by a beautiful woman. The fan favorite “Ladytron” is similar in the sense that every instrument gets a feature and the lyrics are again about love. The haunting introductive oboe solo by Andy MacKay is gorgeous and leads in perfectly to Ferry’s lyrics about a seducer of women. Although the beginning of “If There Is Something” is innocent and honky-tonk, the mood and style soon take a turn when the guitar and saxophone play a little instrumental. Try to find the three separate sections in the lyrics about the different stages of love.
The band’s first British hit was “Virginia Plain,” even though it wasn’t even recorded for the original album pressing. The notable parts of the short song include the lack of chorus and Phil Manzanera’s totally improvised guitar solo, a solo that he’s never been able to reduplicate. Ferry pays tribute to the great Humphrey Bogart in “2HB,” where his electronic piano takes center stage (and the line “here’s looking at you kid” in the chorus). See if you can hear “As Time Goes By” in MacKay’s saxophone solo. Unfortunately for fellow Blue Hens, “The Bob (Medley)” has nothing to do with the University of Delaware, but is an acronym for the Battle of Britain. The sound of gunfire and bombs exploding during the instrumental break complete the homage.
Although the piano part in “Chance Meeting” is eerily beautiful, the synthesized sounds take away from Ferry and his lyrics. The lack of drums makes the audience almost feel like the entire song is an introduction to something. The influence of the band Traffic is very evident in the tune “Would You Believe?” and Paul Thompson’s drums and MacKay’s saxophone get plenty of time to shine. The electronic piano and oboe interplay makes the beginning to “Sea Breezes” much better than the middle part when the rest of the band enters. The album ends with “Bitters End,” a bizarre take on the 50s doo wop style of singing, complete with various percussion instruments.