Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Bryan Ferry 7: Bête Noire

Seeing as he still had some traction on the charts, Bryan Ferry kept his solo career going in the latter half of the ‘80s. Bête Noire is more of the post-Avalon template, but even with Madonna’s producer Patrick Leonard on board, it’s mostly more of the same. Seven guitarists are credited, along with three bassists, three drummers, percussion, saxes, and backing vocals, all combined into a generic, sterile program.

The three singles are still the best tracks. “Limbo” leads off well, and “Kiss And Tell” uses the clever pun of a typewriter to inspire the beat. “The Right Stuff” got most of the attention, being based on a Smiths instrumental and featuring Johnny Marr himself on guitar.

Beyond that, these are danceable grooves with barely discernable lyrics, and that’s really it. We could swear he sings “open your heart” in the choruses of “Day For Night”, which should please anyone who already wore out their cassettes of True Blue. “Zamba” closes the first half moodily for an okay change of pace, and “The Name Of The Game” has a decent chorus (with shades of “Live To Tell”) but “Seven Deadly Sins” begins with that canned chime common to so many Taco Bell commercials. There was a time when “style over substance” wouldn’t be an insult for the voice and face of Roxy Music, but Bête Noire misses the mark. He must have known it, as five years would pass until his next album.

Bryan Ferry Bête Noire (1987)—

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