Record of the Day: Roxy Music, "Flesh and Blood"

Record of the Day: Roxy Music, “Flesh and Blood”

Roxy Music
Flesh and Blood (CD Virgin 724384743925)

Here we are at the Ides of March: on the cover of this famous album some handmaids appear dressed in ancient Roman style, intent on thrusting javelins into an unspecified target (even if it is probably not the same person
who will have a bad surprise today). In any case, the reference of this photo to an ideal classical perfection seems made especially for the music contained inside the envelope.

“Flesh and Blood” probably marks the aesthetic culmination in the philosophy of the rock-chic-decadent style of Bryan Ferry and Phil Manzanera's band. Having abandoned their experimental beginnings with Brian Eno, in 1980 Roxy Music were a well-oiled business machine which, thanks to Ferry's inspired (and clever) pen, was able to churn out one chart success after another, adding to its record releases a patina of further luster in the sounds meticulously created in the studio by producer Rhett Davies.

Nothing spontaneous is found in this album, every note is perfectly studied to achieve maximum effect, the voice of
Ferry warbles contentedly in reinterpretations of Wilson Pickett's “In the Midnight Hour” and The Byrds' “Eight Miles High” as well as giving life to hits like “Oh Yeah” and “Over You.”

Manzanera unleashes a large number of effects for his guitar and reduces solo interventions to a minimum, content to discreetly color atmospheres dominated by keyboards and synthesizers while Andy McKay's saxophone is confined to a decorative role, as are the large number of luxurious sessionmen called in to flesh out the arrangements.

However, what still makes this album worthwhile, especially if you don't feel like a demanding listen, is precisely that
the compositional ability of Ferry who with “Flesh and Blood”, “No Strange Delight”, “My Only Love” and “Same Old Scen” writes icy and shining pop diamonds that send out fascinating flashes precisely by virtue of being absolutely artificial and whose charm is difficult to escape (also listen to the cover of Lennon's “Jealous Guy” recorded later).

The tensions of those years between Ferry and Manzanera had not yet reached the breaking point and even in the following album “Avalon” they managed to create a quality album (albeit even more aseptic than this one).

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.