Rocktology! Essential Roxy Music Tourney Results

June 3, 2020 by

Eight classic albums. Therefore this, a perfect opportunity for the odd bit of Rocktology! Our Essential Roxy Music tourney — 2 tunes each from each of their 8 albums.

Roxy Music has always been a part of my rock music landscape. When I started listening to the FM radio in Detroit in the late 70s, “Love is the Drug” and “Both Ends Burning” were already firmly ensconced in the album-oriented rock canon. In ’79 Manifesto was a big record for me, and my sister had its follow-up, Flesh + Blood, in her collection. The band ultimately took their artistry to a new level on the audiophile classic Avalon.

It was around the time of Avalon’s release in 1982 that a good friend of mine started digging deeper into the Roxy back catalog. There were four ambitious records, that were very big in their native Britain, that preceded Siren. I was seduced by the cosmopolitan swagger and intellectual artifice of the Eno-era early years. Stranded and Country Life continued the soundscape experimentation in a more refined context.

Siren (Roxy Music album) - WikipediaRoxy albums were early CD purchases for me and were some of the best sounding. Roxy translated well to digital and I have repurchased all of these records in a variety of formats. Every record is great in its own way, as the musicianship was never less than stellar. They continued their high level of performance on subsequent 21st-century reunion tours.

My friend and Roxy spirit-guide Todd Johnston selected the field for this tourney, and the bracket was arranged as four two-record, two-round, single-elimination tournaments to determine the Final 4.

Let’s break down the action and recap the results of the four tournaments within the tournament, and determine the ultimate champion:

“In Every Dream Home a Heartache” from For Your Pleasure (FYP) surprised the experts in that record’s showdown with the debut album Roxy Music (RXY). This commentary on the emptiness of vapid luxury features a soaring, swirling solo lead-out by guitarist Phil Manzanera.

“Out of the Blue” from Country Life (CTL) was also a bit of a surprise in that record’s showdown with Stranded (STR), making it all the way to the tourney final. Flanged and phased, the orgasmic strings of Eddie Jobson take this one beyond the blue, guided only by the fickle nature of passion and the capriciousness of attraction.

Siren (SRN) had the look of a championship record from the outset. Sure enough, “Love is the Drug” delivered the hardware, prevailing in the showdown with Manifesto (MAN) and eventually taking the title. All hook and libido, this tribute to 70s singles culture finally cracked Ferry, et al into American rock radio. Top to bottom, SRN is peak Roxy Music.

Pre-tournament, if there was a serious challenger to SRN, it would seem to have been Avalon (AVA). While “More Than This” from AVA did master the showdown with Flesh+Blood (FNB), it did not reach the title game. Despite this being Roxy’s last record it is their most beloved, their only platinum album in the States. “More” captures the album’s sense of loss chased with a tender sense of resignation.

Thanks to everyone who caught that buzz with us. We parked our car. We staked our place. And, for the purposes of this experiment anyway, “Love is the Drug” is our favorite Roxy tune. They still blow my mind. Mr. Manzanera, if you please… Play us out.


Final Four

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