Live At The Royal Albert Hall 1974
BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd
Bryan Ferry was one of the coolest people on the planet in 1974. He was also this in 1973. He is also this – to many people – now. And certainly there’s plenty of evidence here and across 73/74 when he was simultaneously the front-man of a prolific, established Roxy Music and announcing himself as a solo star.
Roxy would tour, release albums and singles that contained killer non-album tracks and for his first two solo albums he focused almost entirely on covers, reinventing pop songs with music-nerd references (setting Brian Wilson’s Don’t Worry Baby to a Phil Spector beat) and an astonishing grasp of girl group classics (It’s My Party), classic rockers (Sympathy For The Devil) and gorgeous balladry (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes). Somehow he was able to affect a role where he placed all of these songs (and more) in a lens displaying a Weimar Republic-meets-art-school tint.
This fantastic live concert recording from his first solo tour has sat in the can for over 45 years. Here it is finally and it’s a revelation, if not the beginnings of a revolution.
The band is basically Roxy but they’re here to only and entirely serve Ferry’s muse. And he is amused to be taking these foolish things very seriously; dressing up art-house rock with his killer performance aura and his wonderful, tremulous voice.
There’s one Roxy song here (A Really Good Time) which is maybe technically still a cover, since here it’s offered as Ferry Solo. And maybe that’s a tactical move too – for this is a veritable history of great, great tunes – the aforementioned Beach Boys, Dylan’s Hard Rain, The Beatles’ You Won’t See Me, The Tracks of My Tears…and then Roxy’s music jammed right in the middle of this sandwich of songs.
Imagine seeing him at this moment in time? It’s good enough to hear him. It was extraordinary enough for me to see him in the early 2000s. Still every inch of a god. Still mercurial and wondrous as he whipped the night for all it had and charged the audience with every single song that he sent, quicksilver, to the rafters.
This is a legendary performance – the band is tight, the set is full of little miracles and Ferry is all things to all people: camp and goth and a sincere balladeer and a devilish rocker and iconoclastic as all fuck. Somehow there was even more in the tank…
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