Review Of Viva! Roxy Music (Melody Maker)
03 July 1976
Rocking On The Road
By Allan Jones for Melody Maker, July 3 1976
The Live Roxy Music Album, as "Viva!" is subtitled, presents us with a collection of eight compositions selected to represent the bizarre diversity of the Roxy repertoire, recorded at concerts in Glasgow (November, 1973), Newcastle (November, 1974) and London (October, 1975).
It's a genuinely exciting, often thrilling record, which captures precisely the flash and bravado of an impressive and intelligent band. And, as it is possibly the last album Roxy are likely to release for a year (one hears that they are currently engrossed in solo projects), its appearance is most welcome.
To the record. Side one consists of brash, authoritative readings of "Out Of The Blue," "Pyjamarama," "The Bogus Man" and, a brief "Chance Meeting" (a beautiful and elegant version with an intriguing oboe/violin duet between Andy MacKay and Eddie Jobson), which segues brilliantly into a ferocious "Both Ends Burning" (marred only by the unpleasant wailing of the Sirens, those two dopey chicks who decorated the stage on Roxy's last British tour). So far, so very good. But it's on side two that the action really gets under way, with an extended version of the classic "If There Is Something," which used to provide the scenario for some spectacular duets between Mackay and Manzanera at one point in the band's history, I seem to remember. The version included here is more stately, with Manzanera's swirling, mysterious solo and Mackay's ethereal oboe work preceding a sudden, dramatic explosion as the band shatter the calm and blast back into the main theme with relentless vigour.
"In Every Dreamhome A Heartache," one of Ferry's finest achievements, follows: a sinister, neurotic performance, suggestive of ominous drama, which reaches a staggering climax with overtones of "A Song For Europe." The album closes, inevitably, with "Do The Strand," a reckless and fierce interpretation graced by another brilliant solo by Manzanera (whose work throughout has a rare intelligence and discretion).
I'm told that "Viva! Roxy Music" was originally intended to have been a double album which, presumably, would have included versions of discarded epics like "Mother Of Pearl", "The Thrill Of It All", "A Song For Europe" and "Virginia Plain", and I can only regret their absence.
Still, the next time is the best time, as we all know. And I'm sure we shall not have to wait indefinitely for their release.
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