Boys And Girls

Bryan Ferry

E.G. Records, 1985

http://www.bryanferry.com

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/23/2009

I will always think of Bryan Ferry’s sixth solo LP as Avalon Pt. 2, since it’s almost a carbon copy of the 1982 Roxy Music album. As with Avalon, Boys And Girls is slick, smooth, and sophisticated pop music that bears no resemblance at all to the frantic glitter rock that Roxy and Ferry became famous for in the ‘70s. Ferry wrote all of the songs here and coproduced the album with Rhett Davies. Upon its release, it quickly became Ferry’s most successful solo effort, climbing all the way to the top of the British charts and spawning two Top 40 hits as well.

Opener “Sensation” is a strong track that finds Ferry at his most majestic; it’s awash with lush backing vocals and some brilliant guitar work by David Gilmour (who appears on every track).  “Slave To Love” remains Ferry’s biggest solo hit and one of his most recognizable songs to date.  It’s a beautiful love ballad greatly enhanced by an intoxicating rhythm track and possibly Ferry’s most poetic lyrics. Gilmour is again all over this one, and I’ll say here that his presence throughout the album is a welcome treat.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Don’t Stop The Dance” is an up-tempo, synth-driven pop song that serves to remind us that when the ‘80s were good, they were really, really good. The song was another Top 40 smash for Ferry and it remains one of my favorite of the decade.  The one-minute wonder “A Waste Land” is really just an intro to “Windswept,” and the two make for the album’s only sore spot. The latter sounds like an unfinished demo and is particularly out of place on this album that is so precise in almost every way imaginable.

“The Chosen One” is the closest Ferry gets to his funk-inspired days of the previous decade. It harbors a killer bass-driven instrumentation that Ferry weaves his abstract lyric around with ease in his most experimental moment on the record. “Valentine” is a reggae-influenced song featuring Ferry pondering life rather than love this time (“How many men in a world of their own / There is no end to the great unknown.”). 

“Stone Woman” is pure pop and is easily the album’s lightest track – which I have to say is a welcome relief among this collection of tunes. While musically this is the quintessential ‘80s pop album, Ferry’s ruminations on lost love and at times vexing studies of life and man’s complexities can really bring the mood down a bit too much. 

The title track closes out the album with five and a half minutes of what sounds like a Dire Straits track of the time. Mark Knopfler appears here as well, leading me to wonder how much he had to do with this one, as the similarities to “Private Investigation” are quite staggering.  Nevertheless, it sounds fabulous and serves as a precursor to Ferry’s next album, the exquisite Bete Noire, released in 1987. Boys And Girls remains an impressive effort from Ferry, and its reissue in 2005 as a SACD has to be heard to be believed. My only criticism of it would be that it’s a little too slick for its own good.

Rating: A-

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