Friday, October 1, 2010

371. Siren. Calling all Roxy Music fans (and there must be some)

Album: Siren
Artist: Roxy Music
Year: 1975
Genre: Rock


  1. Love Is the Drug
  2. End of the Line
  3. Sentimental Fool
  4. Whirlwind
  5. She Sells
  6. Could It Happen to Me?
  7. Both Ends Burning
  8. Nightingale
  9. Just Another High

Sometimes my opinion of an album stays pretty much constant throughout the obligatory four listen that I give each one for this blog. There are times when I hear it once and think "not really my cup of tea" and I still think the same thing three listens later only with more bitterness and a deep-seated sense of irritation that I'm not listening to my favourite music in order to spend more time with stuff I don't like. But then there are times when an album actually needs four listens to fully appreciate and a release has grown exponentially in my estimations. One such album was Siren.

The first time I heard Siren it grated a bit I have to be honest. It struck me as trying too hard to be quirky and became a bit annoying. Listen number two smoothed out my wrinkles of irritation and by three and four I could actually understand why it had a fanbase. I'm not a huge Roxy Music fan by any stretch of the imagination but when someone mentions Siren to me in the future (something that has never happened in my life up to this point, but there's a first time for everything) I can nod wisely and say "yeah, not a bad album".

The stumbling block for many Roxy Music fans are Bryan Ferry's vocals which are a long way from typical rock and roll. Ferry has a habit of warbling his vowel sounds which makes him sound less like a vocalist and more like a ghost. It's entirely possible that Bryan isn't a living singer from the seventies but a dead one from the twenties who happened to be haunting the studio at the time. An effective exorcism would turn Siren into an instrumental album, and to be honest it would still hold up pretty well.

While there are some people who love him, Ferry's vocals were something I had to overcome rather than appreciate. Thankfully the rest of the band cooks along nicely and provides a lot to appreciate if you're prepared to spend some time with it. Probably the best way to describe the arrangements on Siren is dense. There's none of your sparse, lone acoustic guitar arrangements on this album it's an all-and-everything approach. The listener has to really concentrate in order to distinguish between the various guitars, keyboards, brass and strings that seem to be battling away in the background. At various points on the album the songs are augmented by an oboe. Did the album need an oboe? No, but Andy Mackay had one and he'd brought it along and then he was damn well going to use it. Good luck picking it out but apparently it's on there somewhere along with a few synthesisers, a ghost and probably a kitchen sink.

The cacophony that makes up Siren's backing is part of what makes repeated listens essential to appreciating it's charm. The melody lines might be more distinct if the band had showed more restraint but there would be less to appreciate. Give Siren a listen and then give it another three. You might find yourself enjoying it more every time.

Influenced by: Music catalogues.
Influenced: Princess Diana (her favourite band apparently)

Highlight: Love is the Drug
Lowlight: Nightingale.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes called. . .. .and they want their music back. As well as their wardrobe. Bryan Ferry is no match for the geniuses that are Simon and Nick. "

-This reviewer appears to be implying that Roxy Music have shamelessly ripped off Duran Duran. An interesting theory that's easy to shoot holes in. The biggest hole being the fact that Roxy Music predate Duran Duran by several years.

-So did you heed the siren's call or do you lament the fact that it's been going all night but the owners haven't done anything about it and it was probably set off by that bloody cat from next door? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. My sort of album, I think. Cant wait to listen to it.