Friday, 1 June 2018

Roxy Music - Country Life (1974)


Released November 1974

Recorded at Air Studios, London

Not quite as seminal as the first three Roxy Music albums, "Country Life" was released in 1974 and fascinated me as a 15 year old schoolboy. I wonder why! Women were women in those days. Indeed. Funny how some albums in those days were inextricably linked to their covers, this is one of those. Eno was long gone now, and, just as on its predecessor, “Stranded”, I am not sure his tape loops and so on were particularly missed. This album still showcases mid 70s Roxy Music at their very best - alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. 


1. The Thrill Of It All
2. Three And Nine
3. All I Want Is You
4. Out Of The Blue
5. If It Takes All Night
6. Bitter-Sweet
7. Triptych
8. Casanova
9. A Really Good Time
10. Prairie Rose

"The Thrill Of It All" is a somewhat bloated, but still exciting opener, instantly recognisable as Roxy Music. It has an impressive, slow build up intro. "Three And Nine" is an appealing, melodic whimsical Bryan Ferry tune and the accompanying single "All I Want Is You”, with its storming opening guitar riff, is the most underrated of Roxy's excellent singles. Then there is "Out Of The Blue" with its great bass line and stunning Phil Manzanera guitar, augmented by Eddie Jobson’s electric violin. "If It Takes All Night" is a jazzy, boogie-blues singalong number, with an excellent, upbeat, Andy Mackay saxophone solo in the middle.

"Bitter Sweet" is more than a little clunky, with its "sturm und drang" Teutonic chorus (the German lyrics for which Ferry was assisted on by the two German models who appeared on the cover), while "Triptych" is quasi-religious and more than a little odd. Some Elizabethan-style keyboards are an innovative presence. Despite its somewhat clumsy chorus part, it is appealing, in an inexplicable sort of way.

The urgent, slightly mysterious rock of ”Casanova” sees a return to the Roxy of old, sniping at the contemporary “jet set” that Ferry so wanted to belong to (although I prefer the more mellow, funkier version that appeared on Ferry's "Let's Stick Together" album in 1976). "A Really Good Time" is classic laid-back Roxy rock with Ferry's voice to the fore, with a great bass line, and "Prairie Rose" signs off in true Roxy overblown rock style. Again, Phil Manzanera’s guitar on this is spectacular.    

Not a bad album at all, but at the time I was a tiny bit underwhelmed, which is a little bit unfair. For many, this is seen as the most artistically complete Roxy Music album. I can understand why they may think that, but I prefer the previous three outings overall.


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