Tuesday, August 03, 2004

ROXY MUSIC - First Kiss 2CD-R bootleg
When I was in primary school, Roxy Music's "Avalon" was a big hit. In reaction to their perceived bogusness by myself and my dorky compatriots, they were referred to as "Poxy Music". That Lang wit, it's a killer. Then again, I was too busy grooving to the ass-kicking sounds of Culture Club and Duran Duran at the time, so maybe my judgment was a little off. Still, there was something about a middle-aged buffoon in an Armani suit poncing around with models half his age that struck me as, well, a bit lame.

Skip a couple of years and I'm in the midst of an early-teens obsession with the Sex Pistols, only to discover the alleged "massive influence" the likes of Roxy Music had on the whole early UK punk scene. To put it bluntly, I was a little confused. Like, what relevance did the likes of Roxy Music, with their beards, bad hairdos, ridiculous outfits and glam-lite have to do with punk rock? I put them in the back of my mind for another ten years, figuring it must be some early '70s British thing I didn't yet understand.

By my early '20s there were too many people throwing their name around for me to ignore any longer: Pere Ubu, Television, Simply Saucer and a gaggle of US post-punkers, and, most of all, my ears finally woke up to the enormity of a man named Eno and his music. So, I bit the bullet, bought the first two LPs, played them roughly half a dozen times and filed them away for the odd twelve-monthly spin. In other words, they were on the periphery of my audio pleasures, a pretty OK piece of fluff to occasionally indulge in, but not a priority.

So, at this juncture, I feel I must play the devil's advocate and paraphrase a certain British magazine (OK, it was Uncut), who wrote a rather hilarious slag piece on RM a couple of years back: "Eno was the best thing about Roxy Music, and the first two Roxy Music albums featuring Eno are also the worst things he's ever done". You know, that's not all true: Eno was the best thing about early Roxy Music, though they ain't the worst things he's ever recorded (it's simple: U2), but I get the point, I think: Roxy Music really weren't all that. The first 4 or even 5 albums are a mild pleasure, but there's still something so, I don't know, trifling and mediocre about them: they don't possess the teen-anthem boogie of T. Rex, the avant-rock experiments of Can, the raging blast of noise of the Stooges nor the seemingly accidental eccentricities of Hawkwind, but somehow do contain small elements of all of the above. And thus, in that sense, Roxy Music fill a void.

Now, you probably think I'm slowly in the process of attempting to tear apart the entire musical legacy of the band known as Roxy Music, but I'm not. Roxy Music still don't click with me the way they probably should, but for now this 2CD bootleg (sent courtesy of Jay Hinman) is very quickly making amends to what could amount to a slow and steady conversion. Kids, this could take months, maybe even years, so stand back and observe.

First Kiss compiles over 100 minutes of radio and TV performances from '72/'73 and features versions of pretty much every track off their first album, a couple from For Your Pleasure, and the rawness and energy of everything contained on these two discs has me floored. This time you can really hear it: the whirling keyboard mania of Eno, the James Williamson-style guitar attacks c/o Phil Manzanera and that killer combination of glam camp, minimalist garage stomp and avant-rock meld together to create something really new. In particular, the versions of "Pyjamarama", "Editions of You" (with its ghostly, Joy Division aura) and "Do the Strand" are pure magic, capturing a certain essence of decadence, disgust and re-invention that finally makes sense. Let's put it this way: if I was a teenager in '73, I probably would've been a Roxy Music fan. Come back to me in 6 months time to see if the conversion really is a success.


Dan said...

finally got around to picking up For Your Pleasure & the S/T album a couple months back- both great. can't believe I didn't get into 'em earlier.

and Siren ain't half bad either..

Anonymous said...

Roxy Music had too much "musicality" and his droning and lifeless atmospheric codswallop. Phil Manzanera kicks ass!!