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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 4, 1975

Roxy Music: Country Life (Island)

page 15

Roxy Music: Country Life (Island)

Brian Ferry

Bryan Ferry is 30. If you look hard into the eyes of the 30 Wellington kids who buy his group's LPs, you'll see (for each kid) a period of 365 days tattooed into the actual whites. They live this man's bygone birthdays, every foiled attempt at snuffing the candles and finding bits of string in the icing. Generally speaking, these kids have seen all. Everything. The Light, perhaps. Most, anyway of All.

For sure, these kids, upon request, can recite any number of lines from any Roxy chanson ... and hum it just like The Master.

'In every dream home - a heartache' and 'I would do anything for you, sit in the garden, growing potatoes by the score.'

In the end though, they're Ok. The big-think outgrowth of A Birthday Trip goes by the board sooner or later and they can just as easily take up a night cleaning job or play 'Mandy' on the piano by ear.

So hands-up for this week's party pooper. Who's gonna tell this dedicated bunch of dreamers their favourite bubble just burst? Could You tell them about the business of Finis?

Fair dinkum, 'Country Life' is a heavy 'un. The notion of spoiling England's no-snot-up-the-nose grande maison magazine is a groove but the reality is more than a little off-putting. I sway from piling too much meat into the idea that Roxy these days isn't happily hand-in-hand but the more I think about it, the less happy I feel about the prospects of their listen ability before too long.

Fact is while life rolls on, Ferry stacks it on thick. 'Country Life', the fourth album, is about as bloated a piece of music you could ever hope for. Moreso than, say, Procol Harum's 'Grand Hotel' and a lot. Lot more heavy-handed than the one before 'Life', 'Stranded' (and that was the start of this).

You can call the newest offering a pregnant cow and feel secure in the thought that pregnant cows drop (and get lighter) or, better still, call it an 'interim' and start waiting for the fifth album. Meantime though, you've got this LP and until such time as the cow starts screaming or the 'interim' theory is confirmed, it's mucho lusho and heavy deecay right through.

Thematically, 'Life' is 'Stranded Number Two' like four people have already pointed out, but a theme, per se, don't make good music. Most of the tracks here sound like note-for-note remakes of songs off 'Stranded' and that's disheartening enough (new ground, boys, new ground).

What really grates most is Ferry's voice and that's sad. On something like 'Three and Nine' he sounds so rottenly affected it hurts. On 'Bitter Sweet' it's 'Song For Europe' from 'Stranded' - all over again without the magic and a lot of 'This is such a sad affair (but haven't I said this before somewhere?)'

It's March 1975 now (a good three years since the first Roxy LP appeared) and Ferry walks the same cracked path (but oh, so tired now . . . and sluggish, even), hoe in hand, chip-chip-chipping away at the couch-grass, a tear for every uprooted weed, a groan for every stubbed toenail.

Most of the romance on 'Country Life' is neuroses and most of the psychoses is neuroses and a return to The Genuine Article ('Virginia Plain', for example and the first two albums) seems doubtful. It's chic all right but chic up the boohigh; special but only for its (fairly) dreadful uniqueness.

You want heartaches - you got it. Decadence? that too. Just watch out for the backlash, worse than decomposed Gruyere at hit-the-sack time and it's your Ego taking the punches.

Remember - Your risk.

Richard Best