Wednesday, July 14, 2010

394. For your Pleasure ...or someone's presumably.

Album: For your pleasure
Artist: Roxy Music
Year: 1973
Genre: Art Rock

Tracks

  1. Do the Strand
  2. Beauty Queen
  3. Strictly Confidential
  4. Editions of You
  5. In Every Dream Home a Heartache
  6. The Bogus Man
  7. Grey Lagoons
  8. For Your Pleasure


It’s a quirky kind of list this top 500 list. It has a habit of throwing you the odd curveball from time to time. To be honest I’m not sure what a curveball is but that’s okay because I don’t know what Art rock is either and that’s the curveball it’s recently decided to fling my way. The really quirky thing however is the way the countdown is organized. Art rock lovers who are a big fan of Brian Eno had two of his albums in quick succession back in the mid 400’s and now Roxy Music fans, who have waited patiently for over 100 albums suddenly find three of their releases appearing in a the space of twenty albums or so,

Consequently I’m finding myself going from being a Roxy music novice who has never heard a release all the way through to a seasoned campaigner who will enjoy or endure over 10 hours of Roxy music in the coming weeks.

Roxy music is described as Art rock which begs the question- isn’t all music art? Surely music is an art form and consequently all rock is art. Whether it’s good art or not is a point you could debate for years but if your only definition is a dictionary then all Rock is art. For some reason people felt the need to describe Roxy Music as Art rock which sounds a bit pretentious… but then so do Roxy music.

You probably know lead singer Brian Ferry from such hits as Lets Stick Together (a reworking of Canned Heats Let’s Work Together) He’s got a distinctive voice which he decides to use to great effect on this album. If he can throw in a quirky vocal effect he’ll run with it. Ferry is a big fan of the warble. He doesn’t have a huge range but he’s happy to use the full extent of it during the course of one word. He’s one of the strangest things on this album but trying to out-weird him at every step is a sax player whose notes are like a brass version of Ferry’s vocals. Throw in a guitar that sounds like it’s trying to ape the sax trying to ape Ferry and there is a lot of oddness going on. If this album was a painting it would be one of those densely populated pictures of a crowd scene. Like a Hieronymus Bosch, the guy who painted pictures of hell that looked like an extremely demented Wheres Wally (There he is! There behind the demon whipping that nude lady's bottom). They'd be busy pictures full of lots of things which catch your eye and are intriguing. They'd be fun to study in an art gallery for a bit but you wouldn't want to hang them on your living room wall.


At the end of side one Roxy music commit two of my all time great musical sins. The first is to record a song about the owner of an inflatable sex doll. It’s a simple tale of a wealthy individual who lives for pleasure and buys a blowup up sex toy through a mail order catalogue. For a while songs about sex dolls were so popular they could probably put together a compilation album made up entire of tracks dedicated to the subject (they could call it “going down on vinyl”). The Police had one earlier in the countdown and there are probably a few more to come (who knows maybe Roxy music have put together a concept album about the subject). Those in our society who feel the need to dedicate their affections to a synthetic lover are definitely an easy target. I’ve never met anyone who admitted owning a sex doll (they’re a lot like Roxy music albums in that respect) and they’re hardly going to form a protest group. You can mock them all you like and they’ll take their hurt feelings home to be shared only with their synthetic mistress. I just wonder what the point is. The song in question attempts to be sinister but crosses into laughable territory when the line “I blew her up and then she blew my mind” ushers in a sudden turn towards bombastic. I hope this wasn’t done seriously because if it was its unintentionally hilarious. The second great sin is fading out and then coming back for an extended instrumental coda. A trick that was a bit tired when the Beatles did it but was aged in the extreme by 1973.

For your Pleasure has a lot going on and if it was a painting I’d give it more than a passing glance. I might even sit down for a while and admire it. But I still wouldn’t be making any room for it in my house.

Highlight: The Bogus Man, especially the extended outro.
Lowlight: In every Dream home a heartache.

Influenced by: Art.
Influenced: Art Rock.

Favourite Amazon Customer review Quote: "I just listened to "The Bogus Man" twice. What a piece of garbage -- and nearly 10 minutes long. If this is any indication of the rest of the album, then stay away. "

-Do we really need your reviews of an album that you've heard one track from? Even if you have taken the time to hear it twice you could probably go to the effort of hearing the whole thing before you give it a one star review.

So- For your Pleasure or For your Displeasure? Let me know below.

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