I have always had a very keen sense of the ridiculous, and am most often attracted to things that are, essentially, pretty daft, which may explain why I am so inordinately fond of Roxy Music.
Has there ever been a sillier band than Roxy in their pomp? When they burst onto Top Of The Pops with ‘Virginia Plain’, Bryan Ferry’s eyes reduced to slits by heavy make up, his head immobile under the weight of pomade and Cossack hairspray, they looked ridiculous, they sounded ridiculous, they were ridiculous, with their ridiculous, brilliant music that sounded like pop falling down the stairs, the pet wet afternoon project of a hyperactive 11 year old and his Nan who liked ‘the old songs’ and never got over the death of Valentino.
But they had songs, great songs, and they carried it off with a massive amount of brio. When feather festooned egghead Brian Eno left the group in 1973 to go and be esoteric on his own, Roxy took a step back from the outer edges of the solar system and started down the slow path to the smooth, second phase Roxy sound that would come to effortlessly rule the airwaves on their reformation in 1977. ‘Country Life’ was their fourth album, caught between the preposterous Cole Porter in Space sound of their first two LP’s and their later Lounge Lizard loose in a European Disco sound, where the songs are becoming more structured, more melodic, less prone to bursts of piercing electronics.
Opening track ‘The Thrill Of It All’ is fairly typical Roxy fare, but with a big production and a six minute running time. Written at a time when Bryan Ferry had completed his transition from Geordie gas fitter’s son to upper class cad, the lyrics ironically sums up the faux glamour and actual ennui of his parties, planes, affairs and cocktails persona.
‘A Really Good Time’ is my favourite Roxy song (a preference I share with Adam Ant, apparently) and tells the story of a typically vacuous ‘it girl’ and her empty life of Riley. The words are both clever (‘she’s well educated with no common sense’) and clunky (‘she’s got no money - well, maybe a dime’) and Ferry’s voice (always an acquired taste) often teeters and then totters into the ridiculous, but I love it very much.
I once listened to this song about ten times in a row before going to bed, then had a vivid dream where, in full evening dress, I sang it whilst strapped into the passenger seat of a crashed car, the dead body of a woman half through the windscreen, sprawled across the bonnet in a bloody cocktail dress, the party well and truly over.