Review Summary: For our pleasure.
For a bunch of voguish, sartorial art rockers, Roxy Music enjoyed a commendable level of success with their eponymous debut album, with the record itself reaching number 10 in the UK album chart, and its lead single 'Virginia Plain' faring even better, stealing the number 4 spot, and in the process, gaining the band a booking to appear on the coveted 'Top of the Pop’s' television show in their native Britain - giving them a platform to exhibit themselves to an audience of millions. The lads appearance on 'Top of the Pop’s' proved to be fortuitous, as the citizens of a grey, miserable early seventies Britain lapped up the kitschy glamour, outrageous style and exhilarating, arty glam rock (a genre that was to be the country’s favourite around this time period, with the likes of Bowie and T. Rex popularising glam stylings a great deal) of Bryan Ferry and his gang of talented, ornate musicians. It provided people with a sense of escapism - a chance to exit the bleak surroundings and practices of everyday life, and enter Roxy’s world of excessive glamour, stylish fashion, sex, drugs, and art, in the form of experimental, glam rock. Roxy Music’s modus operandi was executed to an even greater extent than on their debut, with their 1973 sophomore effort, 'For Your Pleasure'.
'For Your Pleasure' is an album of juxtapositions - taking steps in one direction, but just as many in the other. The main fuel of this apposition was the creative tension between the two Brian’s of the group - Ferry and Eno. Ferry wished to fall into a more familiar glam rock setting, albeit one with the group’s arty inclinations still intact, whereas Eno wanted to push for a move towards texture - precisely his electronic experimentations with early synthesisers and sound manipulation. In the end, Ferry ‘won’ and Eno decided to pack his bags (probably full of clunky VCS3’s) and set off on his own solo path after the album was complete. But for the time being, his eerie undercurrent of electronic buzz and clever sound manipulation of Manzanera’s guitar was still present and welcomed across the album’s 8 tracks.
The set kicks off with the archetypal 'Roxy' tune, 'Do The Strand' - a five minute thrill ride with tense piano, sleazy saxophone, a driving rhythm section, and typical crooning Ferry vocals. 'Beauty Queen' begins with some chilly distortion work courtesy of Eno, before its odd floating melody starts swaying along with Ferry’s exaggerated croon, stopping briefly at intervals for just a second before restoring the tune, in time for Manzanera’s guitar to pick up, in all its buzzing, reverberated glory. Most of the other tracks continue in the same fashion, but what makes each song stand out are the small details and oddities. Of particular notice is 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' a track that spends 2/3rds of its entirety creeping and crawling along at slow pace, with a simple, eerie whirl tailing behind Ferry’s foreground vocals, before the song explodes into a distorted fit of excellent psychedelic guitar fury from Manzanera that fades away for a couple of seconds, before returning at full throttle to close the song moments later. 'Editions of You' is also stellar, even if its one of the (relatively) simpler compositions on the album - with pounding drums and vigorous guitar and sax interplay. The only song that falls flat, somewhat, is 'The Bogus Man' - spending almost nine and a half minutes not really going anywhere, it seems either self-indulgent or misguided - either way, it's the single superfluous track on the entire record.
'For Your Pleasure' is, essentially, a continuation of what Roxy set out to do on their debut the preceding year, and because of that, its simply more of the astounding work that influenced and enthralled many. But where appropriate, the album is held back just the tiniest amount by the creative tensions at play between Ferry and Eno, with some tracks being ever so slightly indifferent in their goals and execution. However, ‘slightly’ is the key word, as 'For Your Pleasure' is, despite its minor niggles, a thrilling and radical slice of arty, glam rock experimentation at near perfection.