Sunday, 4 October 2020

Bryan Ferry - As Time Goes By (1983-2018)



Boys And Girls (1985)


Sensation/Slave To Love/Don't Stop The Dance/A Waste Land/Windswept/The Chosen One/Valentine/Stone Woman/Boys And Girls               

After a seven-year hiatus, this was the album which saw Bryan Ferry cement the laid-back, slick, immaculately produced smooth brand of lounge bar rock that would take him from 1985 to the present day. The album stands as probably one of the best of the many that he has put out since then. The musicianship and indeed the sound quality is exemplary, (Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour and Nile Rodgers appear on the album) setting standards in hi-fi quality for the time. It still sounds great today, its easy rhythms washing over you gently, drawing you in, siren-like, as Ferry’s distinctive, mellifluous vocals float over the intoxicating rhythms.

The big hits that everyone knows are Slave To Love and Don't Stop The Dance, both full of that effortless groove and vibe that became so representative of Bryan Ferry’s sound. Gone was the Roxy Music-stye innovation and experimentation, it was easy wine bar background music all the way. It is to do it a bit of a disservice to label it just as “background music”, even though that is what it became, because the sound is a type of perfection - addictive percussion and underpinning guitar sounds, gentle bass and sumptuous, insistent keyboards.

  

The image Ferry puts over is one of the smooth, cool, debonair lover - knowing, attentive, a connoisseur of fine things, art, literature, music and wine, yet slightly detached, distant, aloof and not a little melancholic. Don’t Stop The Dance has a gentle samba-type rhythm, or is it rhumba? The saxophone interjections are never intrusive. This, and tracks like Sensation and Windswept (another with some sumptuous, seductive saxophone and touches of Spanish guitar and castanets) are all very European, very cultured and urban. Like a posh evening out in Paris, Brussels, Madrid or Milan, the album playing in the taxi as the street lights flash by. It is not surprising that Ferry has always been really popular in Europe.

Mark Knopfler's guitar is superbly atmospheric on Valentine and Stone Woman has that Grace Jones Parisian feel, such as on I've Seen That Face BeforeBoys And Girls has a sumptuous, dignified, bassy ambience and a seductive, sensual, beguiling vocal from Ferry.

The album, like many of Ferry’s efforts from this one onwards, suffers a bit from no real change in pace or ambience throughout. There is nothing raw or edgy about it, but it has one hell of an air of mystery. A companion for Sade’s Diamond Life as a real symbol of the 1984-1986 zeitgeist. Just check out that infectious rhythm on The Chosen One or the totally delicious Stone Woman and let your mind, memories and fantasies drift.




Bête Noire (1987)


Limbo/Kiss And Tell/New Town/Day For Night/Zamba/The Right Stuff/Seven Deadly Signs/The Name Of The Game/Bête Noire           

Bryan Ferry’s albums didn’t divert from their easy, slick, smooth course from 1985’s Boys And Girls onwards. This one was pretty much more of the same “wine bar” fare, although there a few subtle differences. It is more than just a Boys And Girls part two, though, being a bit more dance-ish. The music, of course, is of the absolute highest quality.
                                        
Limbo and Kiss And Tell are slightly more punchy, more drum-driven in a pacier way, but only just. The same laid-back groove is there, but there is a bit more throb to the bass and a bit more urgency to some of the syncopation. This is only a slightly detectable thing, though, just a slight nuance, really, but is definitely there. Listening to the two albums one after the other, you can definitely detect the change. The nonchalance of the previous album is a tad more peppy, more lively, while still retaining that effortless rhythmic groove.

  

New Town is totally beguiling, Zamba sonorous, mysterious and bassy. The Right Stuff, with its female backing vocals has that degree more of attack and edge that was mentioned earlier, just making it slightly different from the material on the previous album. The backing vocals become innovatory and quirky mid-song, which certainly wouldn’t have happened on Boys And Girls.

Seven Deadly Sins has an absolutely intoxicating, upbeat  rhythm that again carries a new, albeit silky smooth, attack. The Name Of The Game slows down the pace, but it has a certain dignified majesty that is almost ABBA-esque (odd that, because although there is the same title as one of their songs, it is in no way whatsoever a copy). Again, the female backing singers give it a different dimension to previous material.

Bête Noire is a tango-influenced Parisian cafe-style groove that is one of Ferry’s most inventive and seductive tracks. It carries a beautiful bass line too. There is a fair case for this album being a superior album the more commercially-successful Boys and Girls. It has many hidden depths.

Taxi (1993)



I Put A Spell On You/Will You Love Me Tomorrow/Answer Me/Just One Look/Rescue Me/All Tomorrow's Parties/The Girl Of My Best Friend/Amazing Grace/Taxi/Because You're Mine         

This was a bit of a “treading water” album from Bryan Ferry, after Boys and Girls and Bête Noire, which were full albums of original material, this was a collection of cover versions, apart from one song. They are all pretty well delivered, in a very laid-back, bass reverb-heavy way. Lounge bar music with a bit of resonance. Within a year, the Mamouna album of originals was released, albeit performed in the same laid-back style as this album. It is a most enjoyable listen, nevertheless. I know there will be people who say "how can you listen to this from the man who wrote all those early Roxy Music songs". Fair enough, I suppose, but I like both. I like early Roxy Music. I like this too. So there you go.
               
I Put A Spell On You begins with some weird, whistling background noises until the funky-ish guitar kicks in and the Ferry joins with his smooth as satin voice. Will You Love Me Tomorrow is given classic Ferry treatment - smooth, slick, soulful and laid-back but very appealing. He does this sort of thing so effectively. Answer Me is done in exactly the same fashion. It is beautifully seductive though.

Doris Troy’s relative rarity Just One Look is also turned into a late-night, mysterious-sounding piece of intuitive seduction. Fontella Bass’s Rescue Me is no longer a soul thumper, but more of a beguiling groove. These covers really are quite unique. Very typically Bryan Ferry from this era, but also giving them something new. It is so relaxing as to be almost comatose.


The Girl Of My Best Friend is also slowed-down to typical Ferry pace and it is delivered in true laid-back, entrancing fashion. The same applies to the mysterious Velvet Undergound song, All Tomorrow's Parties. In fact, Ferry’s version is almost more beguiling and haunting than Nico’s orginal. It suits his voice perfectly. The backing is suitably seductive. Amazing Grace is given a shuffling beat and some funky-ish guitar and organ parts reminiscent of Ferry’s cover of You Are My Sunshine on Another Time Another Place.

Taxi doesn’t break the mould at all, it is played in exactly the same style and is very like the material that would appear on Mamouna. It actually sounds like a Ferry track, but isn’t. The final number, Because You're Mine, is a Ferry composition but is a short, relatively ambient but inconsequential instrumental. It is worth giving this inventive album a listen, despite its relatively homogenous sound.


Mamouna (1994)



Don't Want To Know/N.Y.C./Your Painted Smile/Mamouna/The Only Face/The 39 Steps/Which Way To Turn/Wildcat Days/Gemini Moon/Chain Reaction  
                                      
Mamouna is absolutely jam-packed full with top notch musicians, including Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera, and Brian Eno is back working with Ferry for the first time since he left Roxy Music in 1973. All that consideed it would not be unreasonable to expect a corker of an album. Actually, although the sound quality and muscianship on the album is first class, somehow there is a sameiness to it that ensures it never really takes off. Rather like Boys And Girls it continues at the same slick, immaculately-delivered lounge bar pace without ever changing its mood or ambience. In many ways it is too polished for its own good. Which is a bit of a strange thing to say, considering it is Bryan Ferry, who wrote the book on that sort of thing. Listening to it, though, it is remarkably pleasant, assured and classy, but it never hits any highs. You get the impression that Ferry could do stuff like this in his sleep.

 

A track like Which Way To Turn, for example, is hauntingly beautiful, both grandoise and understated simultaneously, with an infectious rumbling bass underpinning it, some Mark Knopfler-style guitar interjections subtly behind the beat and Ferry’s high-toned vocal floating around over the top of it. It wafts in to your consciousness, then it gently blows away, like dandelion seeds in the gentle summer wind. The problem is, on this album, every track has the same effect, so the overall feel is rather soporific. Don't Want To Know kicks the album off as it means to go on, as described above. N.Y.C. is a mysterious-sounding, beguiling track that brings to mind Paris more than New York City, I have to say.


Your Painted Smile is also mouth-wateringly intoxicating. Ferry’s lush, husky warm voice just washes all over you, as does the subtle keyboard and saxophone backing. You simply can’t argue with the quality of these songs, however homogenous they are. Mamouna has some distant Eastern-sounding backing vocals, but Ferry doesn't change the mood himself.

The Only Face has an intoxicating deep percussion backing and some addictive wah-wah guitar breaks. Ferry’s vocal is again lazily seductive. Deliciously sensual. The 39 Steps comes thumping in with some solid backing, but the vibe is the same shufflingly seductive one.

Wildcat Days is sublimely beautiful but also ups the thump from the drums a bit, with some eerie background noise too. Eno, no doubt. The bits near the end are some of the most obvious Eno bits on the album. It has that vaguely Parisian late-night feel to it that Ferry does so well.

Gemini Moon has a slightly more lively beat, just slightly, and is one of the most appealing tracks on the album. Chain Reaction concludes matters in the same style as it had begun, of course. Yes, I know this album sounds pretty much the same throughout, but once it is playing and you let it seep into you, it becomes rather irresistible.


As Time Goes By (1999)



As Time Goes By/The Way You Look Tonight/Easy Living/I'm In The Mood For Love/Where Or When/When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful/Sweet And Lovely/Miss Otis Regrets/Time On My Hands/Lover Come Back To Me/Falling In Love Again/Love Me Or Leave Me/You Do Something To Me/Just One Of Those Things/September Song                      

Bryan Ferry has always loved a cover or two - particularly Bob Dylan songs, but also pre-WWII crooning classics like Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and You Are My Sunshine. On this album he delves completely into that luxurious twenties/thirties era, an era of lavish hotels, grand dining rooms, beautiful ladies in elegant dresses and men in tuxedos, overnight cross-Europe steam train travel and so on.

   
You would expect the album to be hugely orchestrated - full of strings played by a large orchestra. To a certain extent this sound is replicated, but not nearly as much as you may have expected. The band is a small combo, with some strings, but not the full Monty. A lot of the material has been given a smoky, jazzy soulful makeover that, while still retaining a lot of the music's original flavour and atmosphere gives it a jazz club-ish feel. All very intimate. Dinner for two by candlelight.

Ferry's vocals are his usual - slightly quavering in his delivery with his instantly recognisable mellifluous warble. The whole sepia-tinged ambience that these songs deliver is entirely suited to Bryan Ferry, let's be honest. He has donned a tuxedo many times in the past, so this album is no surprise at all. In fact, the only surprise is why it took him so long to release it. Nobody does lounge lizard, smooth, suave, casual elegance like Bryan Ferry after all.

Personal highlights are the gorgeously toe-tapping and sensual The Way You Look Tonight; the plaintive Where Or When; the tragic tale of Miss Otis Regrets; the lively lounge jazz of Lover Come Back To Me; the teutonic romance of Falling In Love Again and You Do Something To Me. All of it is good, however - ideal evening dinner background music. Nobody can take any offence to this. It has a seductive appeal to it and is a most nostalgic listen.




Frantic (2002)



It's All Over Now, Baby Blue/Cruel/Goin' Down/Goddess Of Love/Don't Think Twice, It's All Right/Nobody Loves Me/Ja Nun Hons Pris/A Fool For Love/Goodnight Irene/Hiroshima.../San Simeon/One Way Love/I Thought               
This was Bryan Ferry's first album not completely of covers since Mamouna in 1994, eight years previously. The only album in between had been the thirties covers of As Time Goes By from 1999. It is a most underrated, varied and satisfying album. Some of Ferry's albums suffer ever so slightly from getting into one vibe and staying there. Comparatively, this one is more varied in styles while still obviously containing Ferry's laid-back lounge-bar vocal style.
                                     
The album begins with a precursor to 2007's Dylanesque, with a storming harmonica-drenched cover of Dylan's It's All Over Now Baby Blue. A lot of people seem to have a problem with Ferry's Dylan covers. As a Dylan fan, personally I really like them. Almost half the songs on the album are from Ferry's collaboration with The EurythmicsDave Stewart. The insistent, atmospheric Cruel is one of these. It is full of industrial, swirling guitar sounds and a detached but captivating Ferry vocal. Goin' Down is a cover of a Jeff Beck Group song. It is done in a similar bluesy style, with Ferry's harmonica replacing Beck's guitar for the most part, although there is still some good guitar on this one. It has a great atmosphere all over it. As if it were made for Ferry.

 

Goddess Of Love is a haunting song about Marilyn Monroe that has that lounge bar style that 1994's Mamouna album had. The album's second Dylan cover is Don't Think Twice, It's Alright and has a fetching Ferry vocal backed by a rolling piano. It is starkly evocative and also contains another excellent harmonica solo. Nobody Loves Me has some impressive guitar riffage and another haunting vocal. Ja Nun Hons Pris is a thirty-five seconds long, odd track. It is simply some female vocal incantations in Old French. It is appealing though, a shame it doesn't last longer. It merges into Ferry's composition, the graceful mid-pace rock balladry of A Fool For Love. Bryan is loving the harmonica on this album, isn't he? Here it appears again, to great effect once more. It also has some nice backing vocals.

Next up is a cover of Leadbelly's thirties blues Goodnight Irene done a down-home folky style. It has a Cajun-style fiddle backing. Hiroshima...  has echoes of Ferry's earlier solo albums and also of Roxy Music's Avalon period. It has an infectious vibe to it. It merges straight into the brooding piano and keyboard noises over spooky vocals of San Simeon

One Way Love was apparently a Drifters song, although not one I knew previously. It is done in an upbeat, sixties pop style with some jangling Searchers guitar. 

The final track, I Thought, is a collaboration with old Roxy Music band-mate Brian Eno. It is not really a Roxy-style song, though, being a light-ish, appealing poppy number.  It is a very good song though and it ends what was one of Bryan Ferry's best, but strangely little-mentioned albums.



Dylanesque (2007)


Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues/Simple Twist Of Fate/Make You Feel My Love/The Times They Are A-Changin'/All I Really Want To Do/Knockin' On Heaven's Door/Positively 4th Street/If Not For You/Baby, Let Me Follow You Down/Gates Of Eden/All Along The Watchtower     
                   
It is an easy thing to criticise this album. Laid back master of the lounge bar releases an album of covers of songs from possibly the most talented singer/songwriter the world has ever known. Lots of reviewers have queued up here to exactly that. I am not going to do that. I like Bryan Ferry. I like Bob Dylan. Of course, there is no comparison with the originals. That doesn't matter. They are good songs. Bryan Ferry likes them and he wants to cover them. Fair enough. I don't have a problem with that.

Most of the songs are approached by a highly competent band, with a highly competent rock feel to them. My own personal favourites are Simple Twist Of Fate, which is speeded-up into a full band rock song, similarly Knockin' On Heaven's Door, with its excellent guitar, harmonica and backing vocals. The Times They Are A-Changin' is also given the full band treatment and I like that too, So what. There is a great bit of guitar at the end of it.

I also have a weakness for Ferry's opening take on Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues. I just love the backing on this one too - bluesy guitar, rock harmonica and "whoop-whoop" backing vocals. I love Ferry's voice on it too. Ditto Baby Let Me Follow You Down. The band just have a great sound on all these tracks - guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, Ferry on harmonica - pretty basic but top notch. Chris Spedding and Oliver Thompson on guitar; Paul Carrack on organ; Colin Good on piano; Andy Newmark on drums. These guys can play. That should not be forgotten in dismissals of this album.

Make You Feel My Lovis a great song, whoever covers it, and here it is hauntingly beautiful, as indeed is Gates Of Eden.

If Not For You is as gently pleasing as was George Harrison's (or indeed Dylan's) version, more rocky, in fact. You know, I do believe I prefer this one to either. 

Positively 4th Street is a song, which, unfortunately, I don't feel can really be sung by anyone but Dylan, but actually, I also prefer Ferry's All I Want To Do to Dylan's. 4th Street does have a sad feel to it though and Lucy Wilkins's violin at the end is stunningly beautiful.

All Along The Watchtower doesn't quite come off though. Obviously, Hendrix's is better as, actually, is Paul Weller's.

Bob Dylan is an artist whose work has been covered by lots of artists, often enhancing the songs in comparison to Dylan's sometimes questionable vocals. This is one more artist covering the great poet's songs. Nothing wrong with that. People will be doing it for many, many more years to come. I enjoy this album every now and again and am perfectly happy to admit it. I am listening to again as I write this and loving it. I have no shame in admitting that. 




Olympia (2010)


You Can Dance/Alphaville/Heartache By Numbers/Me Oh My/Shameless/Song To The Siren/No Face, No Name, No Number/BF Bass (Ode To Olympia)/Reason Or Rhyme/Tender Is The Night        

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 EnoPhil 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...
                   
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.


The Jazz Age (2012)


Do The Strand/Love Is The Drug/Don't Stop The Dance/Just Like You/Avalon/The Bogus Man/Slave To Love/This Is Tomorrow/The Only Face/I Thought/Reason Or Rhyme/Virginia Plain/This Island Earth           

This is a very odd curio of an album. Although titled The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, Ferry himself doesn't feature on it at all. It is a collection of Ferry's solo material and Roxy Music numbers played by Ferry's regular backing musicians from the time, in a 1920s ragtime-ish jazz style. There are no vocals on the album at all, and, what makes it a flawed album, for me, is that the music is played in a deliberately "lo-fi", muffled mono sound. This is done, presumably, to add a 1920s authenticity to it, rather like some artists have added scratches to songs to make them sound like old blues numbers. Personally, I would preferred it if they had applied contemporary, decent sound to the music. It is a nice concept, but I feel it could have been so much better.

 

As for the music itself, most of the tracks are barely recognisable as the songs they once were. Roxy Music's Just Like You is one of the only ones that does sound like it used to. Others, like Love Is The Drug and Don't Stop The Dance have hints, here and there. Some, like Do The Strand and This Is Tomorrow have me struggling to find any musical link. No doubt, there are lots of musical elements in there, to a trained ear, but to my philistine ear they sound like different melodies.

I dig this out and give it a play around once a year, but every time I do, it leaves me frustrated. I guess that will never change. I love the cover though.




Avonmore (2014)



Loop Di Li/Midnight Train/Soldier Of Fortune/Driving Me Wild/A Special Kind Of Day/Avonmore/Lost/One Night Stand/Send In The Clowns/Johnny And Mary      

This album continues in the same vein as Mamouna and Olympia - high class, sophisticated art/pop, delivered with the class of a 1930s Parisian nightclub singer yet with a sumptuous contemporary, laid-back, polished backing. "Here it comes - that old ennui..." is a line from Roxy Music's If It Takes All Night from 1974's Country Life. It is so apt here. Ferry is a master of his craft, the relayer of reserved romanticism and the purveyor of polished perfection. As with those previous albums, the pace never gets above walking, gliding over the floor. It doesn't need to. It is all exquisitely seductive. Strangely, though, for such a mature, accomplished album, the cover shows Ferry as a callow youth.
                     
Loop Di Li is an insistently shuffling, syncopated typical Ferry groove. Effortless and delectable. Midnight Train continues in the same appetising fashion, with some understated but melodic guitar lines floating around and Ferry's voice, as always, sounding classily detached. That voice is gorgeously croakily romantic on Soldier Of FortuneDriving Me Wild has a couple of hints of contemporary music in its "hey hey hey" vocal backing, but the overall ambience hasn't changed. It doesn't for A Special Kind Of Day either. I would say that Olympia actually had far more changes of style and atmosphere than on this album, where the vibe is the same, like on Mamouna, from track one to track ten.



Avonmore does see the pace up just a little, however, with a more frantic, rolling drum beat and a luscious, enigmatic vocal from Ferry. It is an ebullient, buoyant number. Lost has a beguiling guitar line floating around all over it and Ferry's voice is engagingly "grey" (which is the only way I can describe its slightly high, throaty tone). One Night Stand harks back to the intoxicating Grace Jones-esque nightclub rhythms of Olympia. It has some nice saxophone swirling about in there too. Despite a few slight changes in pace, the whole album plays pretty much as one continuous whole.

The final two tracks are cover versions - a haunting version of Judy CollinsSend In The Clowns and a bassy version of Robert Palmer's Johnny And Mary. The track would seem to be ideal for Ferry. He does it full of laid-back, sleepy soul. As indeed he does the whole album.


Bitter-Sweet (2018)


Alphaville/Reason Or Rhyme/Sign Of The Time/New Town/Limbo/Bitter Sweet/Dance Away/Zamba/Sea Breezes/While My Heart Is Still Beating/Bitter's End/Chance Meeting/Boys And Girls     

After the slightly ill-conceived project of 2012's The Jazz Age, which saw The Bryan Ferry Orchestra (sans Ferry) playing several Roxy Music/Ferry solo numbers in a muffled, mock-1920s mono way. For me, the deliberately lo-fi sound did not work, and furthermore, many of the songs were unrecognisable from their originals (to me anyway).

Here, however, although The Bryan Ferry Orchestra are back, there are considerable improvements on this one. Ferry makes an appearance on several songs and the sound is notably improved. Having said that, several of the numbers sound decidedly mono. Either way, there is much more clarity of sound on these recordings. Indeed, I am pretty sure they are mono. Good mono, however. There is still a bit of "muffling" here and there. I guess that is just the "smoky" sound they are trying to achieve.

                            
Alphaville, from Olympia, kicks off the album in a staccato, almost 1930s Berlin jazz style. Ferry's ageing voice suits the interpretation perfectly. The sound is still slightly lo-fi, but it is miles better than the previous offering. Reason Or Rhyme, also from Olympia, also has a vocal and is pretty appealing, offering a different feel to the original. Somewhat brooding and laconically melancholy in its jazzy backing. Sign Of The Times from The Bride Stripped Bare is a jaunty instrumental and pretty much unrecognisable from the rocking original. It is pleasant enough in its own right, though. New Town from Bête Noire is given a most agreeable jazz makeover and although it is enjoyable, I have to say, as with most of the recordings, that I prefer the originals. That is not really the point, however, is it?

Limbo, also from Bête Noire, is a lively instrumental and the original is discernible. Again, this is quite evocative and atmospheric. Bitter-Sweet, the teutonic Roxy Music number from Country Life, has a vocal and the song hasn't lost any of its sturm und drang. Ferry's vocal is even better than the original and the song sounds similarly mysterious and at times bombastic. Once more, it is full of atmosphere.

Dance Away from Roxy Music's Manifesto is give the instrumental treatment and its melody is there in a quirkily, "flapper"-ish fashion. I must say I quite like this one despite my misgivings over much of the instrumental interpretations. Zamba from Bête Noire has a haunting Ferry vocal. It is one of the album's best cuts. Sea Breezes from the first Roxy Music album has a most fetching jazz new incarnation despite its lack of vocals. This one works pretty well. Roxy's While My Heart Is Still Beating, from Avalon, has another excellent laid-back Ferry vocal and sumptuous backing. The song suits the new coat it has been given.

Bitter's End from the first Roxy Music album is performed without vocals but is melodically recognisable. Chance Meeting from the same album, like Sea Breezes, is a track that Ferry has re-worked before, on his Let's Stay Together album. Here, he does so with vocals and it is another success, for me, anyway. Lovely oboe work (or at least I think it is an oboe!). The album ends with the title track from the Boys And Girls album. It is an intoxicating, ghostly track that has a dignified beauty to it.

Look, this is an enjoyable listen and I know that every year or two I will give it a whirl. Will it replace the originals? No. Does it better the originals? No. Does it really matter whether it does or not? No. Take it for what it is.



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