Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Bryan Ferry - Olympia (2010)


Released October 2010

This Bryan Ferry solo album, his first containing self-penned material since 2002's "Frantic" was also notable for, at various points on the album, featuring old Roxy Music mates Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay. It wasn't a Roxy Music reunion album, though (despite the Roxy-ish cover) - it was far more in the traditional Bryan Ferry style of a selection of sublimely created and played tracks running as one seamless, stylish whole. Seductive, sophisticated - dim the lights, you can guess the rest...


1. You Can Dance
2. Alphaville
3. Heartache By Numbers
4. Me Oh My
5. Shameless
6. Song To The Siren
7. No Face, No Name, No Number
8. BF Bass (Ode To Olympia)
9. Reason Or Rhyme
10. Tender Is The Night                                  

"You Can Dance" is a brooding, atmospheric, shuffling opener, full of sonorous drums and industrial guitar swirling around behind Ferry's detached but mysterious vocal. "Alphaville" is a sumptuous song of textured, subtle rhythms and stylings. It is both catchy and classy. "Heartache By Numbers" is a more upbeat, commercially-sounding number with an identifiable singalong chorus, as opposed to an ambience. "Me Oh My" is a quiet piece of intuitive late-night soulful groove. It never gets above walking pace. It doesn't need to. "Shameless" sees a return to the subtle dance-ish vibe of the first two tracks, with an infectious, pounding beat and some beguiling vocals. This is actually Ferry's most "dance" album, although, as you would expect, it is all done in the best possible taste. The soundtrack to a West End nightclub populated with wealthy oil magnates. The album positively reeks of wealth. Even the faultless sound quality can be described as rich. Sort of hi-fi demonstration material.

"Song To The Siren" is a Tim Buckley song, given an "Avalon"-style syncopated, mellifluous makeover. Once again, its rhythm is sleepy, dreamy and perfectly textured. You can just let it wash all  over you, like a relaxing warm bath. "No Face, No Name, No Number" is cover of a Traffic song from the sixties. It has a captivating gentle wah-wah guitar backing and a lightly soulful Ferry vocal. It is another song dripping mystery and atmosphere and suits the album perfectly. "BF Bass (Ode To Olympia)" has a deep, bluesy sort of beat with hints of Stax soul but with a contemporary dance thump. It features some Tom Tom Club style female backing vocals which give it a catchiness.

"Reason Or Rhyme" is a very typically Bryan Ferry number, in its laid-back feel and quiet, classy vocals. It has an addictive piano line. Again, it is full of atmosphere. The melody of it really sticks in my head too. "Tender Is The Night" ends the album with a low-key, moving ballad with a haunting vocal. Overall the album is a quality one that explores various textures and beats while never straying too far from the one ambience that runs through the whole album. Yes, there is nothing new, save some contemporary beats, but did you really expect anything else? This is a master craftsman doing what he does best.


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