“Street Life” rumbles in, sounding a bit like a cousin of “Editions Of You”, so there’s some familiarity, just as “Just Like You” evokes the cocktail party atmosphere, but improves when the band comes in. A quirky modern riff introduces “Amazona”, and somehow the sonics approach the types of noises Eno used to make for them. “Psalm” is given room to breathe, which is good, since it goes from observing someone’s sense of fashion to an actual psalm.
A nice Wall of Sound begins side two with “Serenade”, all the instrumentalists given a canvas to decorate and the melody’s pretty good too. Modern ears can’t help but hear “Courtney Love” when he sings “courtly love”. The doom-ridden “A Song For Europe” is already creepy enough, but then he starts crooning in French over the end. After that, the rave-up beginning of “Mother Of Pearl” is highly welcome, even with the effect of Bryan singing two songs at the same time, and chances are he had been listening to Bowie. But not even a minute and a half in the piece slows dramatically to a three-chord vamp suggesting the “party time” had indeed taken its toll, and it’s back to self-parody. A lengthy a cappella coda repeats until the piano switches to “Sunset”, which is hardly affected at all.
Probably it’s because we like Eno so much, but in opposition to practically every other review we’ve read, Stranded just doesn’t work for us. Roxy Music sounds less like a band than a conveyance for Bryan Ferry, and considering he was also doing solo albums, that’s a disservice to Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera, although both were allowed to collaborate on the songwriting. Time may change our opinion; watch this space.
Roxy Music Stranded (1973)—2½