Friday, 1 June 2018

Roxy Music - Siren (1975)

Take my place in the singles bar....


Released October 1975

Recorded at Air Studios, London

Running time 42:30

By 1975, the cracks were appearing in the hull of the good ship Roxy Music. Bryan Ferry had already begun his successful solo career. The time was probably right for a break. 1974's Country Life had certainly not been a bad album, indeed many thought it was their best, but in many ways it was no innovative classic either. It seemed, even then, that this was to be something of a transitional album, in terms of sound, style and approach. Like The Faces and Rod Stewart, Roxy Music were starting to look a bit more like a vehicle for Bryan Ferry.

Siren trod water, quite well, as it happened, and flirted with the burgeoning disco genre too. Ferry's imagery is focused, and there's less synthesized clutter, fewer sound effects, more straight, almost Ferry solo material.


1. Love Is The Drug

2. The End Of The Line
3. Sentimental Fool
4. Whirlwind
5. She Sells
6. Could It Happen To Me?
7. Both Ends Burning
8. Nightingale
9. Just Another High  

There is certainly weight to the argument that claims that, starting in parts of Country Life and certainly continuing throughout nearly all of Siren (apart from the opening to Sentimental Fool) the actual fabric of Roxy's sound gets steadily more conventional and tame. Anyway, on to the songs -
The opener and big hit single Love Is The Drug with its "footsteps on gravel" intro sounded great then and over forty years later it still does. It never sounds out of date.

End Of The Line is an appealing Ferry piano-driven ballad and Sentimental Fool's extended intro seems to want to hark back to the old "experimental" days of Brian Eno and 1973's For Your Pleasure before ending up as a drawn out Ferry ballad. 1973 certainly seemed along time ago, now.

Whirlwind is typical Stranded-era Roxy, rather like that album's Serenade, full of crashing, swirling guitar. She Sells is catchy, but ultimately inconsequential and Could It Happen To Me pleasant enough, but neither really pull up any trees.

Both Ends Burning is five minutes or so of percussive disco influenced funky rock and excellent it is too, although many fans from the 1972-73 days hated it. Nightingale is back to Whirlwind territory", while Just Another High is an extended, rather sad farewell to Roxy Music Part One. The great innovators had become balladeers. Good ones, mind. The tone was set here for the type of material that Roxy Music Part Two would release.

See you again in 1979.


The 'b' sides from the era were:-


Continuing the tradition of instrumental 'b' sides, 1975's Love Is The Drug was paired with this sparse, Eno-eque instrumental that appears to feature a didgeridoo, deep and reverberating over a rhythm box automated beat, with a bit of guitar swirling around and some ambient keyboards. It is far more atmospheric than the tracks on the album and definitely harks back to Roxy's early days. 

For Your Pleasure (Live)

Both Ends Burning was backed by a live recording of For Your Pleasure. It is less than five minutes long, so I imagine it has been edited. Phil Manzanera's guitar part is excellent as is Paul Thompson's drumming, particularly at the end. It is a powerful rendition of what is a slightly less dramatic track in its studio incarnation.


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