Roxy Music’s debut was produced by King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield – Bryan Ferry had previously unsuccessfully auditioned for the lead singer vacancy in King Crimson. Roxy Music is the band’s most difficult and most experimental effort – there’s a brilliant side one, where Eno’s weird sound processing and Ferry’s songwriting coalesce to create intoxicating pop music that’s ground-breaking and enjoyable.
Opener ‘Re-Make/Re-Model’ is a brilliant title that succinctly describes Roxy’s approach, and it’s a terrific opener. Paul Thompson pounds away powerfully, while Manzanera’s stinging lead guitar and Mackay’s saxophone are treated by Eno to create a sound palette that must have been downright revolutionary in 1972. There’s also a memorable section where each member gets a brief solo: Manzanera plays rhythm guitar for his solo, after playing lead for the entire song, the bass plays the riff from The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’, while Eno makes some strange whirring noises with his synth. ‘Ladytron’ is a moody, synth-filled ballad, The Humphrey Bogart tribute ‘2 H.B.’ is pretty, while ‘If There Is Something’ starts off as upbeat country before veering off all over the place. The upbeat ‘Virginia Plain’ was the single, and with Ferry’s decadent irony and Eno’s weird sound treatments, it’s invigorating.
Side two of Roxy Music, however, is a lot more difficult, with moody material that relies on atmosphere. Roxy Music has an amazing and revolutionary first side, but the difficult second side makes it’s the weakest album from Roxy Music’s first phase.