The Thrill Of It All (1972-82 DVD) - Fri 23rd Nov

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The Thrill Of It All (1972-82 DVD)
23 November 2007
(Something For The Weekend THE SUN)
Published: 23 Nov 2007

ROXY MUSIC - The Thrill Of It All (1972-82 DVD)

Rating ****1/2

THEIR song The Thrill Of It All couldn’t have put it any better.

The glamour girls. The outlandish outfits. The glitz. The hits.

We had Bryan Ferry’s sleazy good looks, Brian Eno’s synths and sounds, duck-walking sax player Andy Mackay, hairy guitarist Phil Manzanera, strongman drummer Paul Thompson and too many bass players to mention.

When Roxy Music fully arrived on the scene in 1972, there was a tangible buzz about these art school types who did things differently.

Remember, this was the era of sweaty rock gods Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Over eight studio albums between 1972 and 1982, Roxy carved a special sequin-spangled place in our hearts.

To mark a new two-DVD set covering the period, called, naturally, The Thrill Of It All, Manzanera and Mackay give SFTW some fascinating insights.


HOW have you found watching the DVD of those early Roxy years?

Well, I don’t really recognise this 21-year-old person that’s meant to be me. It’s like looking at a clone of yourself, thinking “What was going on in my head then?”

How did you come to join Roxy?

I failed the audition but got on with them incredibly well and then one thing led on to another. They hired a guy called David O’List but then he had a punch-up with Paul Thompson in front of the management. I was there with Richard Williams of Melody Maker in this empty Bingo hall in Wandsworth. Our jaws dropped. Then they said, “Get rid of that guitarist” and “Well, what about Phil?” It was complete chance.

Did you have to adapt your guitar style for Roxy?

They’d played some gigs and had a good idea of the guitar parts. I wanted to fit in but luckily the people who’d influenced me like Velvet Underground, psychedelic stuff and just my mad guitar playing clicked and they liked it. Also, it was great being able to work with Eno which was like having your own human effects box. My guitar got treated with the most sophisticated treatments which they’re still yet to invent!

What made you so distinctive?There’s a wonderful visual side which you see in that DVD. You see an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm. Reckless playing, reckless abandon. One of the last performances with Eno is a bunch of people dressed in the most bizarre, amusing and impractical way.

What about your personal look?

I had to be the token hippie. “You're not cutting your hair and your not doing it because we need somebody with one foot in the past.” The bug-eyed glasses were the genius of Anthony Price.

How did Eno’s departure affect the band affect the band, because the next album Stranded was great?

Stranded went straight to No1. In true Eno style, he now says if people ask him, that it’s his favourite Roxy album. The one after he’d left!

What are your favourite Roxy moments?

It’s very difficult to pick out one really. I loved For Your Pleasure. I loved Stranded. As a sort of cameo, Virginia Plain to me has all the ingredients and I do love those long tracks where Bryan has a chance to be very lyrically interesting like in Every Dream Home A Heartache and Mother Of Pearl.

Do you have a particularly fond memory of one Roxy period or another?

I have fonder memories of the beginning. When you first start out, it’s so exciting. All you want to do is make a record and all you want to do is to do one tour. If I could only do a tour of America, I’d be happy. I could go off and become a baker or something.

We’re expecting the first Roxy Music album since Avalon. How’s it going?

The other day, I thought I’d play my son, who’s 24, a couple of the tracks just to see what he thought. After one of the tracks I played, he said: “Oh, that sounds like Roxy of this period and that sounds Roxy of that period”. Then he said “that one’s a complete surprise”. I thought, “Let’s not rush to get it all done. Let’s do it properly”. Bryan’s off touring. Personally, I think his voice is fantastic. And Andy’s playing his saxophone. He’s done instrumentals. I’m chipping away doing all my guitaring. I think we’re in good nick and fingers crossed it will transfer itself into the finished album. A short, really good album would be what’s needed


WHERE did the visual side of Roxy Music come from?

It was a mixture of things. For Bryan, it was soul music, rock ’n’ roll, you know the saxphones, the quiffs type. We also took Thirties and Forties visual images. The early Seventies was that time of washed-out denim and blues and roots. We just felt that it wasn’t us.

Was there was an element of glam rock?

That really came into being after we’d started. It was applied retrospectively to Marc Bolan, early Bowie and Roxy. Glam rock proper was Sweet and Gary Glitter. The other thing for us was that we were all really quite shy people. I found it much easier on stage that if you couldn’t hide, you might as well go for it. There’s no point in trying to skulk in the shadows. It gave us a certain amount of pizzazz.

There was a funny mixture of nostalgia and modernity about Roxy Music.

Yes, there was a futuristic element to it, partly because we put our own looks together. There wasn’t really a master co-ordinator. We all had our own stylists. I liked science fiction at that time. I don’t any more but I had this science fictiony top made. We all went for our own fantasies.

Not many bands had a full-blown sax and oboe player in those days. Did you feel quite distinctive?

They were just what I played. The saxophone obviously has a long history in rock ’n’ roll but I’d actually been struggling for a few years putting rather sad little ads in Melody Maker — “Oboe player seeks progressive band”. All I got were a few jazzers would ring me up. That’s why in the end I thought I’d form my own band really and we sort of collided with each other.

You knew Brian Eno first?

We met when I was at university and he was at art school and we’d done some work together, avant garde, very weird.

What was Roxy’s breakthrough moment?

Our first album had great reviews but was seen as kind of odd. It still made a big impact on a lot of people but it wasn’t selling huge numbers. Then our single Virginia Plain got picked up and that changed it from being a slightly art schooly band playing to people we knew. Suddenly we were playing to kids, getting mobbed outside venues and the whole thing very quickly developed.

How did Eno leaving after second album For Your Pleasure affect you?

With Brian, it wasn’t so much what he actually did musically but just the fact that he was there. Groups work in a funny way. Sometimes a bit of grit is needed to produce a pearl.

You disbanded in 1976 then reformed for Manifesto, Flesh + Blood and Avalon. How do regard that smoother period?

The production values had changed. We were working in New York some of the time and we were spending longer on albums. The times had changed and Roxy were successful over a 12-year period because we did something different. After Stranded (1973’s third album), my next favourite is Avalon because it has a melancholy feel.

How’s the new Roxy album?

Two years ago, we recorded eight tracks in a very short period of time. We went back to the way we used to work, we all went in the studio. We set the drums up for Paul Thompson. Brian Eno was involved in some of those sessions and then it kind of stopped dead because Bryan was having trouble writing and then he decided to finish his Dylan album. I’ve just completed an album by a new band called Andy Mackay And The Metaphors. I hope the new Roxy ablum will be finished next year.

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