Melody Maker - Sat 16th Nov

Reckless Roxy Allan Jones for Melody Maker IT WOULDN'T be at all difficult to devote an entire review of "Country Life" to the initial impact of the album's introductory offering, "The Thrill Of It All." The whole Roxy Music arsenal of reckless dynamics is unleashed here in one breathless attack. Paul Thompson's sledgehammer percussion combines with John Gustafson's bass to propel the whole along with all the power of a runaway avalanche. Phil Manzanera, quite easily England's premier exponent of the guitar as a lethal weapon, cuts loose with an incisive savagery, skiving through the aural bombardment in a commendable display of virulence. Ferry's own performance is equally impeccable, full of a staggering frenzy - easing up only twice for Andy Mackay's sax to weave in out of the chaos (the first time behind a verse that sounds as if it was edited out of something like " Strictly Confidential.") For a band that has developed as rapidly as Roxy Music, there must have been a temptation to sit back and cool their heels and refine rather than develop those ideas which were the immediate impulse behind the bands conception. But there's little evidence here to support the suggestion that Ferry has been content to re-work those themes which one already associates with Roxy. And, ironically, on the one track where Ferry relies on an already established concept, the album falters slightly. " Bitter-Sweet " seems no more than a backward glance at " A Song For Europe." It sounds reasonably impressive, complete as it is with Ferry at his most fatigued and love lost on the first two verses before swinging into a section which has echoes of "Bogus Man" before slipping into a totally irrelevant section sung in German, which with its jagged musical accompaniment conjures images of Grosz's Berlin but still sounds unnecessary and forced. Like " Triptych," an incongruous medieval romp, it seems out of focus compared to the rest of the album, although both in isolation have their strengths. But these are minor points when one considers the album as a whole, which generally finds Ferry edging away from familiar ground into a much more direct lyrical stance. "Three And Nine" and " A Really Good Time," the former with a beautiful melody courtesy of Andy Mackay (who proved on his underestimated solo album that he's capable of pulling out some fine tunes) are both distinctive because of the lack of Ferry's usual literary mind games and allusions and intricate metaphors. "Good Time," which is built around the melodic base of "Just For You," contains a refreshingly straightforward lyric and works beautifully. The album's real ace is "Casanova." Here the band sound really demented creating an unbearable, claustrophobic tension behind Ferry's vindictive and malevolent vocal line, delivered in a series of staccato outbursts that are really riveting. It's probably the single most powerful song that Roxy have ever produced. And in one move it contradicts the current speculation concerning Roxy's collective future, and suggestions that a parting of the ways is imminent. Either that, or " Country Life " is proof that most great rock albums are created by bands existing in a ,state of internal dissension. And make no mistake, " Country Life " is a great album.-

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