Friday, May 7, 2021

Roxy Music 7: Manifesto

The boys in Roxy Music got their side projects out of their system, and restarted the band without any agenda outside of making music. Gone were the camp affectations and ironic nostalgia; with Manifesto they were all about style and what would soon be called new romantic.
Side one, or the “East Side”, and the title track slowly burbles into place underneath a solo by rotating bass player Alan Spenner over a near-disco beat. Bryan Ferry’s lyric is kinda poetic, and the track comes to a surprising finish like, well, a spaceship taking off. “Trash” is right in line with current new wave, thanks to a cheesy organ. “Angel Eyes” would be re-recorded in a more dance vein, but the original album version is a lot more rock, and a lot more fun, honestly. “Still Falls The Rain” is a pleasant trifle, with all the Roxy ingredients in place, while “Stronger Through The Years” has something of a sinister undercurrent, and lots of further input from Alan Spenner.
The “West Side” is a little more direct, or is it? “Ain’t That So” seems to be bouncing in and out of different tempos, throwing out a melodic twist here and there that bucks the simplicity of the chorus, which consists of repetitions of the title. Except for the prominent Andy Mackay saxophone, “My Little Girl” sports harmonies right off the latest Cars album and a snare sound akin to somebody kicking a garbage can. “Dance Away” is an apt portrait of heartache, but it took a remix for the single to rearrange the structure and tighten up the track. Unfortunately, “Cry, Cry, Cry” is meaningless pop, though Phil Manzanera does give his all to his solos. The theme of dancing away heartache returns on “Spin Me Round”, ending the album rather softly.
The title may have been meant to be ironic, since Manifesto isn’t the grand statement their earlier albums seemed to be. They’re merely doing what Roxy Music collectively did well. For other people this might be considered treading water, but in this case it works. (Fun fact: after “Angel Eyes” and “Dance Away” were respectively re-recorded and remixed as singles, the new versions replaced the originals on future pressings of the album, as well as the compact disc. When the CD was remastered in 1999, the original “Angel Eyes” was reinstated, but “Dance Away” was not. Both were sound decisions.)

Roxy Music Manifesto (1979)—3

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