Roxy Music - Siren, 1975, Island Records
Love is the Drug
End of the Line
Could it Happen to Me?
Both Ends Burning
Just Another High
Roxy Music were formed in 1970 by Bryan Ferry. Andrew MacKay and Brian Eno as a way to combine music, modern art and fashion. Siren was their fifth album and it was to be their last before they disbanded (although they got back together with various changes of personnel periodically over the years). Both Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno had huge solo success after Roxy Music, Eno most significantly as a producer, although he left the band before the release of this album and it was Eddie Jobson who provided synths and keyboards on Siren The visual image of Roxy Music was of great importance and although they were by no means the first British band to focus on image, it was what they were and what they remain synonymous with. Some might even argue that Roxy Music are almost all image. Everything from their stage sets and album art to promotional posters and badges sold to fans were carefully designed to conform to the Roxy Music look and Bryan Ferry is still seen as a musical style icon as a solo artist. Roxy Music are considered to be one of the best British art rock bands although the music on this album has an eclectic mix of influences.
Love is the Drug, Roxy Music’s only US hit single is the incredible opener to this album. The intro is classic and so is the bassline. This is just a brilliant song and I love it. The beat is so strong, and Bryan Ferry’s voice is kind of hypnotic throughout the song, the chorus sticks in your head forever. End of the Line is a complete change of mood and feels like a country song. Oh and here is the arty electro (since they are technically an art rock band) on Sentimental Fool with two and a half minutes of synth intro. Sit through this though and you will be rewarded with a decent, dramatic track. Whirlwind is a contrast in that it’s a full on rock song. She Sells sounds like the 1980s five years early. I like it though, it’s catchy. Could it Happen to Me? is a proper ballad but it’s underwhelming. Both Ends Burning, a mix of synth, bongos, saxophone and guitars seems like it would sound great on stage. It’s up tempo and enjoyable, it feels like a classic. Overall this album is a mixed bag and, forgive me for saying this but it does seem like style over substance. There are a few great tracks, but there are also some forgettable ones. None of it is bad, it’s just that it none of it ever hits the height of the opening track again. Ferry’s vocals are definitely the star attraction and lyrically there is a lot of good stuff on the album, but the music doesn’t deliver overall. The British public didn’t agree with this assessment though and it reached Number 4 in the chart with single Love is the Drug peaking at number 2. Being less experimental than their previous work featuring Brian Eno, it probably opened them up to a new audience while still allowing them to incorporate a lot of musical styles like funk, soul and dance music.
Roxy Music remain hugely influential from a fashion and style perspective and Bryan Ferry who was awarded a CBE by the Queen in 2011, surely remains rock and roll’s greatest and suavest romantic. Musically, they had a significant influence on British punk and new wave as well as the New Romantics as well as on dance music. Bands as diverse as Madness, Duran Duran, Sex Pistols and Ladytron specifically cite Roxy Music as influences.