Review Summary: A new sensation or a fabulous creation? Or just difficult second album.
There are few things around us that are black and white. Usually we talk about shades of grey. But for me it is impossible not to mention it when I compare first eponymous Roxy Music album and "For Your Pleasure", their the second one. They are both masterpieces, and very different records in the same time.
You can't judge a book by cover, but these two albums have significant ones. The first album cover is picture of young woman wearing bright clothes ready to seduce you. Overall color is white. Songs are psychedelic, sometimes overmelodic, playful, fresh and bit careless and bright.
And then we have "For Your Pleasure". Again, the cover, the beautiful lady, waiting for someone, wearing sexy and black outfit in the middle of the night. Her body language could be read as "keep the distance". Sound is monochromatic, dark and very edgy with multiple textures and variety of instruments playing solo at the same time. That gave them unique sound, best described as hard rock glam proto punk. It is not so melodic as their debut, instrumental parts are played staccato, creating tensions sometimes by repeating simple mechanical patterns and sometimes by doing 180 degrees changes of directions. The band sound more neurotic and dissonant, they seemed that they were ready to expell Bryan Ferry and continue work with Eno. The key word is balance between Bryan's pop-soul aspirations and Brian's psychedelic and atonal tendencies. Just check out «Do The Strand»'s atonal sound tornado break, or fierce guitar break on «Beauty Queen» , or sax solo on «Editions of You». All songs are basically very neat white soul pieces but turned to progressive pyschedelic nihilism usually on the song's bridge or instrumental part except the title track and «Bogus Man». Those two songs were completely built on psychedelic progressive grooves.
I believe recording of "For Your Pleasure" was very hard. I have an impression that Bryan Ferry had played these songs somewhere in his house, then came Manzanera, Eno, Mackay and Thompson, beat him up and told him: «Never do it again», played and recorded their parts and then left the house. Those creative tensions produced not only happy compromise, but maybe their definitive masterpiece. "Thrill Of It All", Roxy Music best of box set, included seven of eight songs from "For Your Pleasure". That is no fluke. Almost every song is highlight. But the show belongs to title track, not only because of ambicious and magical fusion of pop and psychedelia but also because of great performance by the band.
"For Your Pleasure" is great example how differences can be unifying and complementary, Ferry never allowed group to slide too much into hard rock chaos, and the band kept Ferry off cheap pop melodies and arrangements.
Soon after this album had seen the light of the day, Brian left Bryan and the group. Brian Eno retained low profile between mainstream audience (but he was awarded by cult following), and Ferry's commercial tendencies are the best expressed on "Avalon", the last Roxy Music studio album.