If you know me (and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you do), then you know that I’m quite the fan of Roxy Music. Whether it’s their brash, early glam-rock stuff, or the atmospheric, new wave sounds of their 1980s work, I think they are pretty much the best of the best. Even Bryan Ferry’s solo work (which is a mixed bag) is damn good, in my honest opinion.
Fans and critics alike, though, have always been divided on Roxy’s 1980 effort, Flesh and Blood. It’s a far cry from the loud bombast of their early efforts, and it finds Ferry and company at a bit of a crossroads as they entered the 1980s. AllMusic.com calls Flesh and Blood ‘
ill-formed, stylish lounge-pop, ‘ and Rolling Stone called it ‘shockingly bad.’ On the other hand, well-regarded American rock critic, Greil Marcus said that,
‘… Flesh + Blood floats; it drifts; it fades away; it soars back. It captures the easy, endless promises of summer, and it captures the summer you’ve never gotten over; it works as soothing, mindless background music, and it can break your heart. Like a perfect July day, it makes no demands on a listener, yet it can give a listener everything.’
Marcus pretty much hits the hammer on the nail. Flesh and Blood is no For Your Pleasure (Roxy Music’s seminal 1972 effort), but it’s a heartbreaking sleeper of an album, and in my opinion, a damn good one at that. Roxy Music are trying their hand at new romantic/new wave sounds (a sub-genre that many feel Roxy themselves invented), and for the most part it works. are new wave gems. They would perfect this effort on their pretty much perfect studio swan song, Avalon in 1982. But Flesh and Blood is the sound of a band in the throes of a bit of an identity crisis. Still, there’s no denying the fact that songs like Same Old Scene and Oh Yeah! are new wave gems.
As beguiling as the album is, so are the live performances from that tour. Case in point, this drug-fueled clip from a German concert in 1980:
Where to begin with this energetic and enthusiastic mess of a performance? Well, for starters, Ferry looks hopped-up on something as he belts out the lyrics incredibly off-key, with strangely painted-on eyebrows. And what;s up with the leather suit? Roxy’s beloved drummer, Paul Thompson, had left the band prior to recording Flesh and Blood, and he is replaced by Michael Dawe, who looks as though he was sharing some narcotics with Ferry backstage. But Phil Manazera’s kick-ass freestyle solo toward the end of the song makes it worth it, as does Andy Mackay’s exceptional work on the sax.
It’s a trainwreck of a performance, but in its own weird way, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable one. In fact, those sentiments can pretty much sum up the way most feel about Flesh and Blood.
Here’s unusual piece of Roxy Music history.The front and rear of a cheeky postcard sent from Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera to Eno in November 1973. It’s dated 17th November 1973 Roxy were on the European leg of the ‘Stranded’ tour in Gothenburg Sweden, back home 'Street Life’ was just about to enter the Top 20 and Eno, who had left Roxy just months earlier was about to unleash the fabulous 'Here Come the Warm Jets’…
with thanks to Billy Porter for the original post on VRM.