Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Roxy Music 10: The High Road

Roxy Music’s tour supporting Avalon was commemorated two ways: a videocassette chronicling a show in France, and a four-song EP (or mini-album, as they called them in the U.S. in the early ‘80s) recorded live in Glasgow, both titled The High Road. The timing was smart, as they coincided with the American leg of the tour.
Rather than rehash stuff from the hit album, the EP selections included “Can’t Let Go” from Bryan Ferry’s most recent solo album, a decent version of “My Only Love” from Flesh + Blood that leaves plenty of room for Phil Manzanera to shred and Andy Mackay to wail, and two “new” covers. John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” had been in their set as a tribute since his murder two years before, while the band—mostly the backup singers—sucks all the tension and passion out of Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” in a version that’s even longer than the original.

That was the last anybody heard of Roxy Music as an entity for seven years, when Heart Still Beating was released with a minimum of fanfare. While the liner notes state that it was recorded in France in 1982, experts have reported that it does indeed include the four tracks from The High Road throughout the sequence, which also does not emulate an actual setlist, nor replicate a complete show, running only 67 minutes.
Yeah, but what about the music? The focus is on recent hits, so there’s a smattering from Avalon, plus a welcome “Dance Away”. The first wave of the band is represented by “Out Of The Blue”, “A Song For Europe”, “Both Ends Burning”, “Love Is The Drug”, and a not-very-decadent “Editions Of You”. Bryan even steps aside for Phil to lead a frenzied take on his solo track “Impossible Guitar”, which the band tackles gamely.
Even with its omissions, Heart Still Beating is a nicer souvenir of the second Roxy era than the mini-LP was. And it caps the trajectory just as Viva! did for the first period of the band.

Roxy Music The High Road (1983)—
Roxy Music
Heart Still Beating (1990)—3

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