Wednesday, August 11, 2010

387. Country Life. Roxy Music's most famous album (cover).

Album: Country Life

Artist: Roxy Music

Year: 1974

Genre: Art Rock


The Thrill of It All
Three and Nine
All I Want Is You
Out of the Blue
If It Takes All Night
A Really Good Time
Prairie Rose

So my rapidfire education in the career of Roxy Music continues with another album hot on the heels of an earlier release. While I hadn't heard this albums just as much as I hadn't heard the earlier one I was definitely aware of it because of the cover. Whenever you see iconic album covers compiled in the one spot you will always see Country life, and it tends to make an impression. More on the cover in a minute.

The difference between Country Life and For Your Pleasure is the absence of Brian Eno, who had left to pursue his own brand of musical weirdness. The band was left in the full control of Brian Ferry who took them in a different kind of direction. It's possible that Ferry was worried about fans missing Eno so he decided to distract them. Firstly by including nude ladies on the cover (About which more in a minute) and also by throwing on ever instrument he could find to dazzle the listener.

Country life is unbelievably dense and complicated. It's so busy it should probably be called City Life. There's so much thrown into the first track that it’s almost impossible to work out. There seemed to be three guitars all riffing at the same time along with strings, keyboards, horns, vocals, backing vocals and quite possibly a massive array of other effects buried somewhere in the mix. There may have been a recognizable melody in there somewhere but it was struggling to get out.The effect should be terrible bt it does kind of work. The entire album does have a timeless sort of quality about it because it comes from nowhere and everywhere at once.

There’s a lot of talent here, arguably too much talent. You could happily ditch 5 or 6 musicians from each track and still have enough talent kicking around to make a perfectly acceptable song, possibly even two. There are entire instrumental passages played by instruments I don’t actually recognize. I think one was an electrified violin but then it could have been a guitar with an affects pedal stolen from another planet. There are harmonica solos, subtle strings and other affectations. It’s like Roxy music lost a bet with a music shop owner and were forced to use his entire stock in the creation of their work.

Brian Ferry met the two women who grace the cover while he was on holiday in Portugal. He managed to persuade them to pose naked on the cover which goes some way to explaining the power of the rock star. I've met people on holiday and I could barely persuade them to let me have a quick read of their Lonely planet, let alone strip down and pose for photos. It must be pointed out however that the two girls were also responsible for providing the German translation of the lyrics. So they're not just a pretty face or two.

Country life is a complicated listen that might not be for everyone but does reward repeated hearings. If you can get past the cover it might be worth your time.

Higlight: The Thrill of it all.

Lowlight: Prairie Rose

Influenced by: Music instrument catalogues
Influenced: Radiohead apparently.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Turgid, plodding music. Could barely get through a single playing of the CD before taking it hastily out of the player. "

-Turgid and plodding. Great words. I've used plodding in a review but not Turgid. Expect to see it on this blog soon.

So are you a fan of the country life or would you rather get the hell out of and move to the city? Let me know below.

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