Last Saturday, I asked readers to tell me what the last album they had listened to was. David Zimelis said:
LP SIREN ATCO US SD 36-127 1975 9 TRKS
CD SIREN VIRGIN JPN VJCP-68825 1975 9 TRKS (’07 issue) Kami sleeve, HDCD
Specifically on LP, he said. The fifth Roxy Music album, and considering that they began in 1972, that’s more than one album per year! For myself, I have made do with the US Atco LP and the ’07 issue on Virgin Japan in a little paper album cover CD, an “HDCD” (High Definition Compact Disc), no less.
For my ears, it was the law of diminishing averages with Roxy Music – I liked the first one best, and each one successively less. With “Siren”, they finally found US success with “Love Is The Drug”, though I think I prefer Grace Jones’ version. Jerry Hall slinks on the cover; the original version of the band is still fairly intact – minus Brian Eno, of course – and adding musicians Edwin “Eddie” Jobson (from Curved Air) and John Gustafson (notably from Quatermass). Phil Manzanera has 2 x co-writes on this album, Andy Mackay fares the same with 2, Eddie Jobson has merely 1 x co-write credit. Engineered by Steve Nye, who would later record and produce the seminal Roxy Music-copyist band Japan; produced by Chris Thomas (who also produced some nice John Cale music).
“Love Is The Drug” was unleashed as a single in England in October 1975, followed by “Both Ends Burning” in December 1975. It was the final album of all-new material that Roxy Music delivered to Island Records, England, too. They signed to Polydor UK for their next studio album, “Manifesto” (1979) – to which I paid absolutely no attention at all until many years later.
In 1975, I was so enchanted with European music, with no time for Roxy Music, particularly as they now seemed so…”commercial”. My high school snobbery served me well, I greatly preferred Phil Manzanera’s debut solo album “Diamond Head” (1975), with both Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno participating.
When I get the chance, I’ll give “Siren” a spin and see how it sounds to me now. I bet I’ll really be able to hear the ’75 vintage equipment, and the quietness of the studio: Air Studios, London (then-owned by Sir George Martin). Real drums, real saxes, real guitars, real bass, some synths – and some Bryan Ferry.
In 2011, I have time for most any real studio recordings by Roxy Music, as long as it’s Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay and Thompson. I guess there isn’t a Bryan Ferry solo album for ’75; in ’76 he released “Let’s Stick Together”, which was a pretty good album.