Saturday, March 1, 2014

Roxy Music - Manifesto

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday.

Today (March 1st) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Manifesto, the sixth studio album from Roxy Music. This 1979 release went to number 23 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 7 in the UK. The band included Bryan Ferry (vocals, keyboards and harmonica), Paul Carrack (keyboards), Andy Mackay (oboe and saxophone), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Alan Spenner (bass), Gary Tibbs (bass) and Paul Thompson (drums).

Side one opens with the title track "Manifesto". A funky bass groove and steady mid-tempo beat serves as the foundation for the keyboards, horns and guitars to dance upon. Ferry's self-affirmations do not come in until almost halfway through the track.

"Trash", the first single, hit number 40 in the UK and number 36 in the Netherlands. The opening guitar riff reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" a little bit, but then the song shifts down a pop-rock road.

The third single was "Angel Eyes"; it reached number 89 in Australia, number 50 in New Zealand, number 10 in the Netherlands and number 4 in the UK. It is interesting to compare this one with the previous track; the choice presented is good girls versus bad girls. That is something most teenaged boys/young men have to wrestle with at least once in their early dating lives.

"Still Falls the Rain" is up next. The verses have a bit of a folk drone to them, but the music and the chorus really pick things up. It makes for an interesting composition. The lyrics make reference to Hyde and a doctor, a literary allusion to two sides of a man's psyche.

"Stronger Through the Years" has a dark and mysterious mood to it that evolves as it progresses. At over six minutes, it is the longest track on the album. Conversely, with only sixteen lines in lyrics it ranks close to the shortest amount of words on a track for the album.

Side two starts with the clock-like syncopation of "Ain't That So"; the saxophone and harmonica compliment it nicely.

On "My Little Girl", the keyboards and other instruments give me a bit of a Steely Dan vibe. The lyrics speak of a daughter growing up.

"Dance Away", the second single, went to number 92 in Australia, number 75 in Canada, number 44 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 30 in Germany, number 10 in New Zealand, number 6 in the Netherlands and number 2 in the UK. I do recall this one from the radio back in the day, specifically the chorus. This heartbreaker deals with a guy seeing his former lover with another man.

The B-side to the second single was bouncy, up-tempo "Cry, Cry, Cry".

The album closes with the soft, sensitive "Spin Me Round".

I did not really discover Roxy Music until their early 80's work, so Manifesto was a completely new experience for me with this review. I did like what I heard though. I doubt the fourteen year old me (when this one was released) would have enjoyed it as much though; it was definitely a different kind of dance music than what I was into at the time (disco).

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