Roxy Music pioneer tours with new tracksWritten by John Benson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For roughly 40 years, the debonair Bryan Ferry has successfully existed at the intersection of art, fashion and rock ’n’ roll. It’s a precarious — if not a pressure filled — place to call home considering the fickle nature of all three arenas, yet somehow this enigmatic aristocrat of music has thrived without a faux pas, meltdown or clunker.
“It’s kind of who I am,” said Ferry, calling from Miami. “I studied art. And then, at the age of 10, I was a huge music fan of jazz and blues. As a teenager deciding what to do with my life, I just wanted to be an artist. I went to university and studied art for three years, and during that time I started to sing a little bit. When I graduated, I started writing and those songs became the first Roxy albums. So I felt I wanted to integrate the two things as much as I could, without diminishing the importance of the music.”
A bellwether to ’80s new wave, the sophisticated Roxy Music found platinum success in the U.K., Europe and Australia. However, in the U.S. the road was never as smooth, with Ferry and band mates enjoying pockets of success from 1975 single “Love is the Drug” to the 1982 album “Avalon.” Equally elusive of the mainstream has been Ferry’s solo career, which also began in the ’70s and contains many cover albums, including 2007’s self-explanatory “Dylanesque.” While Ferry’s own mid-’80s song “Kiss and Tell” was a Top 40 hit, he’s most known for “Slave to Love,” the unofficial theme song to feature film “9 1/2 Weeks.”
Despite a Roxy Music reunion a decade ago, Ferry remains committed to his solo career, which includes his most recent album “Olympia.” Released last year, the 12-track effort features musical collaborations with some of the industry’s biggest names — Nile Rodgers, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Groove Armada, Dave Stewart, Scissor Sisters and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.
“One of the chief directives for this album was I wanted to have some of my own songs and not just do covers,” Ferry said. “I don’t write as prolifically as I did back in the ’70s, I think that’s pretty natural. As life gets more complicated, I’ve always kind of enjoyed doing versions of other people’s songs. To me it’s been a great way of enlarging my repertoire and broadening my sweep. But the best new track that I wrote and the key track — like the keystone for the building — is called ‘Reason or Rhyme.’ It was started a few years before but I didn’t finish it off until the very last minute. I felt like I got the lyric right.”
Fans can judge for themselves when Ferry returns to Cleveland for a 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 show at the State Theatre. The production includes a multimedia affair that he describes as “a collage of beautiful things.” The notion of the theatrical tour is nothing new to Ferry, but who does the 66-year-old performer see carrying on his legacy?
“Prince was great,” Ferry said. “He always puts on a great show and he’s a terrific singer and guitar player. The obvious person is Lady Gaga. She’s quite brave, out there and changing all of the time the visual side of her work. She’s also a good musician. I think she’s interesting.”
Is Ferry jealous of her meat outfit?
He laughed, “I don’t think I could have pulled that one off somehow.”