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Way back in the early 1980 as a very young teenager, I heard a certain song being played on the radio. It was quite unlike most other music I was into at that time, and I found myself drawn to the singer's melancholy voice. The song itself a meaningful sad lament with a memorable chorus (about a song being played on the radio, ironically ) which stuck in my mind long after the song ended.
"There's a band playing on the radio
With a rhythm of rhyming guitars
There's a band playing on the radio
And it's drowning the sound of my tears..."
The song was 'Oh Yeah (On the radio)' and it reached No.5 in the UK chart. The artist was Roxy Music, fronted by Bryan Ferry.
Roxy Music were formed back in 1971 by Bryan Ferry, who went to school not far from where I grew up here in the North East.
The other members were Phil Manzanera, Andy MacKay and Paul Thompson. Brian Eno was also a member for some time.
Roxy Music broke up in 1983, but did reunite for a tour in 2001. Bryan Ferry went on to have a successful solo career.
The song served as my introduction to Roxy Music, although I had heard of them prior to that song, and knew of some of their work ( they had released 6 albums), I had never paid much attention.
'Oh Yeah' changed all that, and finding myself liking other single releases by the band at that time, I bought the album which featured them all. Flesh & Blood.
The line up for this album featured Bryan Ferry (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy MacKay (saxophone & oboe).
Additional musicians including Paul Carrack ( of Mike & The Mechanics, Squeeze) and Gary Tibbs (who went on to join Adam & The Ants) amongst others, were brought in to play on this album.
The tracks :-
1. In the Midnight Hour
2. Oh Yeah (On The Radio)
3. Same Old Scene
4. Flesh and Blood
5. My Only Love
6. Over You
7. Eight Miles High
8. Rain, Rain, Rain
9. No Strange Delight
10. Running Wild
Bryan Ferry wrote the songs for the album, ( mostly ballads, but it has its moments!) co-writing one or two with Manzanera, with the exception of two, which saw Roxy Music attempting a couple of cover versions - The Byrds 'Eight Miles High' and Wilson Pickett's 'In The Midnight Hour'.
The three single releases from Flesh & Blood - 'Over You' with it's throbbing bass intro and Ferry's anguished crooning vocal, 'Oh Yeah' and 'Same Old Scene' (changed to 'The' Same Old Scene for the single) were probably the obvious choices for single release.
Over You, a catchy track telling of relationship break up was a favourite of mine back in 1980, as was The Same Old Scene with its upbeat slightly rockier sound and brilliant sax, as Ferry sings of how sure he is that nothing lasts forever.
My favourite track is 'My Only Love'. A love song which became the sound for future Bryan Ferry releases. Full of the sour romanticism Ferry is renowned for, this particlular track with its full string and piano section sitting perfectly alongside the bassline, struck a chord with me from the first listen and has remained so to this day.
"Do I ever wonder
More than words can say
Heaven knows it's hard enough to pray
Let me tell you something
There's a change in me
Even now you're gone you'll always be
My only love"
The two cover versions are surprisingly good. 'In The Midnight Hour' is a great choice for Ferry's voice, whilst 'Eight Miles High' is given a somewhat funky sound on the instrumental sections.
Andy Mackay playing the Oboe on 'Rain Rain Rain' is another highlight along with the track's odd fade out.
There are no weak tracks for me and I have never understood why this album was not well received by some music critics. Whilst applauding Roxy Music's earlier 'glam' sound of the 70's, they did not appreciate the change to the more mellow sound here, or the inclusion of cover versions.
Remarks from the music press such as "the band have lost their image" amused me. Surely their previous glam rock image could not work in the 80's? The critics clearly expected some prog-rock from the band, criticising the change of style and sound as boring. Rolling Stone magazine at least afforded it as having 'a certain fascination'.
Slick and sophisticated, Flesh & Blood showed a new mature sound to Roxy Music and I loved it, much preferring this and the subsequent album 'Avalon' to their earlier releases, but it's all down to individual taste. I didn't mind their earlier stuff but their final two albums remain my favourites.
As Ferry sang on 'The Same Old Scene' - "Nothing lasts forever" and this album saw Roxy Music make a successful transition from the 70's to the 80's. I can't have been alone in my admiration of this album as it did on two occasions reach No.1 in the UK album chart in 1980.
It remains one of the albums I like to listen to at night with the lights down low and a glass of wine, as it whisks me back to 1980...
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 In the Midnight Hour
2 Oh Yeah
3 Same Old Scene
4 Flesh and Blood
5 My Only Love
6 Over You
7 Eight Miles High
8 Rain Rain Rain
9 No Strange Delight
10 Running Wild