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Roxy Music: Live

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Album Review

Falling halfway between musical primitivism and art rock ambition, Roxy Music's eponymous debut remains a startling redefinition of rock's boundaries. Simultaneously embracing kitschy glamour and avant-pop, Roxy Music shimmers with seductive style and pulsates with disturbing synthetic textures. Although no musician demonstrates much technical skill at this point, they are driven by boundless imagination — Brian Eno's synthesized "treatments" exploit electronic instruments as electronics, instead of trying to shoehorn them into conventional acoustic patterns. Similarly, Bryan Ferry finds that his vampiric croon is at its most effective when it twists conventional melodies, Phil Manzanera's guitar is terse and unpredictable, while Andy Mackay's saxophone subverts rock & roll clichés by alternating R&B honking with atonal flourishes. But what makes Roxy Music such a confident, astonishing debut is how these primitive avant-garde tendencies are married to full-fledged songs, whether it's the free-form, structure-bending "Remake/Remodel" or the sleek glam of "Virginia Plain," the debut single added to later editions of the album. That was the trick that elevated Roxy Music from an art school project to the most adventurous rock band of the early '70s.

Biography

Formed: 1971 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '00s, '10s

Evolving from the late-'60s art-rock movement, Roxy Music had a fascination with fashion, glamour, cinema, pop art, and the avant-garde, which separated the band from their contemporaries. Dressed in bizarre, stylish costumes, the group played a defiantly experimental variation of art rock which vacillated between avant-rock and sleek pop hooks. During the early '70s, the group was driven by the creative tension between Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, who each pulled the band in separate directions: Ferry...
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