Is it just me, or does Bryan Ferry sound like the Count from Sesame Street on this one? On the breakthrough hit “Do The Strand,” I fully expected him to start counting something at random and then maniacally laugh afterwards. Have the last laugh he did when For Your Pleasure became Roxy Music’s first big hit album in the UK, even winning respect and admiration from critics in the US.
Just as Roxy Music were just beginning to experience critical and commercial success, keyboardist Brian Eno announced that he was leaving the band. His excuse? Touring was too tiring, though many reports suggested he and frontman Bryan Ferry had been squabbling. Opting for a career as a solo artist and renowned producer of U2, Eno found creative freedom and a less demanding pace, though Roxy fans were left to ponder what Roxy Music might have been had he stayed onboard. Surely, much of what RM were able to achieve early on was owed in no small part to Brian Eno’s artful contributions.
Decidedly more bouncy than its predecessor, For Your Pleasure features jazzy horns (Andrew MacKay) and piano (Eno) throughout. On later releases, Bryan Ferry would thankfully tone down his over-the-top crooning as if to say, “I won’t be overshadowed by my bandmates ever again…oooaah HA HA HA HA!”
Because of its uneven pacing, this second Roxy release is one that I’ve always struggled to love. Fast song, slow song, fast song, slow song. Sure, it’s well-balanced, but the constant shifting of gears made me dizzy and a little nauseous. Still, the guys do rock it out on “Editions Of You,” and get you up out of your seat for “The Bogus Man,” which isn’t something they were able to do on their debut. It’s also nice to know Bryan can sing in an entirely different register when called upon.
The real jaw-dropping track comes at the halfway mark on “In Every Dream Home A Heartache,” which is an eerie love song to – get this – A BLOW-UP DOLL! The mood is dark and tragic, mesmerizing, and completely unexpected. After its extended acid rock fadeout, it suddenly dawns on you that this band means business.
With its sleek and modern black cover art (suggesting darker material), For Your Pleasure finds Roxy Music all grown up and ready to face the rest of the world. The rousing “Grey Lagoons” seems to point to the next chapter minus Eno. It’s where the band finds their soul and shows it to God.
Now do I have your attention? Good, because Roxy Music sure has mine. This one is rated B for Breakthrough.