Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Listening to: Bryan Ferry: Boys & Girls

This is one of my very favorite albums. The music that I love the most is that which somehow manages to capture a timeless quality. This solo album by Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry was released in 1985, over 20 years ago, and yet it remains fresh and engaging every time I listen to it. You really can't hear 1985 in it unless you listen very closely and know what to listen for.

The dense, brooding textures, the relentless rhythmic drive, the modal bob-and-weave is just irresistible. Guitars that shimmer, percolate, and then whipsaw through the mix. Warm, synthy string pads, an occasional saxophone moan, unbelievably tight funky drum and bass grooves.

Ferry's vocals are evocative and strong, floating over this seething river of soul. Sometimes the crooner, other times the haunting in the distance, he is really at the top of his artistic game.

Written, recorded, and produced by Ferry and Rhett Davies, the roster of sidemen on this album is truly golden, including David Gilmour, Nile Rogers, Omar Hakim, David Sanborn, Neil Jason, Mark Knopfler, Tony Levin, and Marcus Miller among others. Plus, "Boys & Girls" was mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Yeesh...

The songwriting and overall style is suggestive of some of some of the contemporaneous Roxy Music recordings, but only in all of the good ways. It is an evolution from, say, "Avalon" (1982, another one of my faves), but it is not imitative.

There are no weak entries on this album, but the strongest in my opinion include the sensuous title cut, "Sensation", "Slave To Love", "Don't Stop The Dance". And "Stone Woman" is the definition of a "killer groove".

But again, what I love is the fact that this album really sounds like it could have been made yesterday...and I am sure I will be still listening to it in another 20 years.

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