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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bryan Ferry - "Let's Stick Together" CD Album

Bryan Ferry - Let’s Stick Together
CD, Album, U.S.,  1990 (Released 1976)
Reprise Records

A very odd record.  In the same year, at least in the U.K. Bryan Ferry released an EP that was sort of perfection in format and music.  Let’s Stick Together is a full album including that EP, but still, the album feels like a b-side to various singles.   In fact, I believe that most of this material were b-sides.   On this album he does or re-do’s five Roxy Music songs.   All decent covers, but not as good as the Roxy originals.   So one wonders,  perhaps he re-recorded them for financial reasons? 

The one thing that Ferry never fails to do is do a great version of an American Songbook classic.  Here he does “You Go To My Head” which is superb.   The voice, the image, and his stance backs the greatness of this song.  It’s a natural fit.  Also his take on “Let’s Stick Together” works because he has that sheen of the surface and when it is attached to a gritty R&B song, it adds a new dimension to the work.   So yeah, enjoyable package, but what is the thought behind it?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bryan Ferry - "Extended Play" Vinyl 7" EP

I purchased the original copy of this EP at Moby Disc record store when they were located on Ventura Bouvelard.   At the time, I loved the compactness of having an EP with four new songs.  The year being 1976, the height of the punk era, and yet, Bryan Ferry totally ignored that world for his own private-like cell of luxury and his version of recorded history.  The design and even the liner notes expresses a time gone past.  I imagine that Ferry still has all of his old original vinyl EP’s in some room in his house.  So this selection is perhaps a tribute to that era, but the music, at least on the surface, is all over the map.

We have a classic Beatle tune from “Rubber Soul,” and in theory Ferry could do a whole re-make of that album, and it would fit into his aesthetic.  It is quite straight forward with a heart on the sleeve sentiment - which ironically enough there is another track with that very title.  “Heart On My Sleeve” is totally nice but also unnecessary.  What comes off the strongest is his version of Jimmy Reed’s “Shame, Shame, Shame” and The Everly Brothers “The Pice Of Love.” That is totally superb, with an intensity that is powerful and then going right into “Shame…” is a great series of moments.  The b-side is all reflection, as I noted above.  But the real star of this package is the idea of the EP.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bryan Ferry "Another Time, Another Place"

Bryan Ferry - Another Time, Another Place
CD, Album, Remastered

The second Bryan Ferry album, and on the surface, it appears to follow the first, in that it is mostly all covers, except the title song “Another Time, Another Place.” The album opens with “The ‘In’ Crowd” and this mod soul classic is re-imagined by Ferry.  Here in Ferry’s hands the song becomes a manifesto.  In other words, it is pretty much what the listener imagines the world of Bryan Ferry is like.  “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” is another totally suitable piece of work, due that Ferry has a real understanding of the Great American Songbook.  He knows how to be subversive with the mixture of effortless elegance, with his much studied approach to that subject.  The beauty of this song sounds like Ferry wrote it.   The lyrics are genius.  The image of a heart in flames, which in turn causes the eyes to burn from the smoke, is a great visual ‘romantic’ image.

Sadly the rest of the album doesn’t match the two songs above.  The thing is I think he sees these songs as irony-free, but the enjoyment of a Bryan Ferry project is the projection of his pop aesthetic on a song form.  At least with his solo projects.   By no means is this a failure of an album, but compared to his initial solo, and of course Roxy Music, it is minor stuff.   Well, that’s true till  we get to the end of the album, when all of a sudden we get an original song by Ferry.  Not only an original, but a masterpiece by Ferry.  “Another Time, Another Place” is the iconic Ferry subject matter of time standing still, which is woebegone island for him.

Ferry doing covers as a solo project makes complete sense to me, but I am surprised that he put an original song on this album.   Even though it is the best thing cut, why not save this song for a Roxy project?  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bryan Ferry - "These Foolish Things" Virgin CD

Bryan Ferry - These Foolish Things
CD, Album, Remastered, 1999 (original recording 1973

For me personally, the year 1973 was a major time for new music.  Glam reached its peak, and David Bowie and the Spiders were non-stoppable.  But also the dark mirror image of Bowie, Roxy Music was making revolutionary music.   It was virtually a shock that around the time of the second Roxy album, Bryan Ferry released a solo album.  An album of song covers on top of that.  At the time, I thought of These Foolish Things as a creative notebook for Ferry.  Perhaps influences, both iconic and sonic wise.  The majority of the songs were taken from the 60’s with a touch of the 50’s and even something from the classic American songbook.

When I first heard the album, I was shocked by Ferry singing a Bob Dylan song for some reason.  Even more surprise by his glam/experimental arrangement of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” An incredible version of the song that first rendered this protest song into a camp level.  Now hearing it many years later it seems to me to be more of a poetic approach to this iconic piece of work.  On one level the album sounds like a collection of b-sides, but that is a part of its great charm.  Ferry’s focus on turning these pieces into something more personal for him, yet the distance between his voice and the material is quite a distance.  It is, and still is, a very strange album.