Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Bryan Ferry 1: These Foolish Things

Apparently Roxy Music wasn’t broad enough to contain all of Bryan Ferry’s creativity, so first chance he got, he did a solo album. Yet while the cover shot of These Foolish Things presents him as almost contemporary, the cover songs that make up the album itself come off as a broad parody a la the lounge lizard in all his previous photos, as befits a man with a truly twisted idea of scintillating cocktail music.
Yes, these are cover songs, played straight without any wacky effects or funny sounding instruments—unless you count Eddie Jobson’s electric violin. It’s just his croon, backed up by some very enthusiastic women. He runs roughshod through the Top 40 songbooks of the ’50s and ‘60s, touching on everyone from Lieber & Stoller to Goffin & King, Lennon/McCartney to Jagger/Richards, Brian Wilson to Motown. Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” is removed from post-nuclear nightmare into a near-clone of “Virginia Plain”. “Don’t Worry Baby” retains the same “Be My Baby” beat as the Beach Boys original, just as “Sympathy For The Devil” doesn’t deviate from the Charlie Watts tattoo. “You Won’t See Me” opens with a busy signal that thankfully doesn’t carry through the entire track. The title track, which dates back to the ‘30s, closes the set with just enough kitsch to fit onto an actual Roxy album.
We suppose that the repertoire presented on These Foolish Things is supposed to be ironic along the lines of Warhol’s soup cans, particularly when he tackles songs usually associated with female singers (“Piece Of My Heart”, “It’s My Party”, “I Love How You Love Me”). Obviously he’s enjoying himself, or he wouldn’t waste his time, much less the listener’s. But truly great covers transcend their originals, and these don’t.

Bryan Ferry These Foolish Things (1973)—2

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