Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)

Eno_WarmJets4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Leaving Roxy Music after two masterpiece albums, “tapes treatment” and synth wizard Brian Eno created his first solo album with the aid of most of his former Roxy bandmates, as well as Chris Spedding, John Wetton, and Robert Fripp and many other guests, delivering his own masterpiece of Art Rock with a healthy dose of Glam. And although the music isn’t too dissimilar from Eno’s work with Roxy Music on the band’s debut release and For Your Pleasure, the experimentation here is at a much higher level.

Here Come the Warm Jets is completely unique to my ears, surreal yet accessible, zany yet catchy, sinister yet welcoming, with musical gems such as “Baby’s On Fire,” “Dead Finks Don’t Talk,” “Driving Me Backwards,” “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch,” and “Blank Frank”—oh, hell, in truth, every one of the ten tracks is golden—all being mind-blowing when it came to overall creativity and general “goofiness.”

Simply stated, when it comes to the avant-garde melody lines, the curious lyrical content, the eccentric instrumentation, or the innovative production techniques, sound effects, and “treatments” Eno gives to the various instruments and vocals, this is Art Rock at its finest. No wonder the man has become a musical living legend.

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Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure (1973)

RoxyMusic_ForPleasure5 out of 5 Stars!

In my eyes, For Your Pleasure, the second release from Roxy Music, is one of the finest Art Rock albums ever made, and is certainly my favorite by this unique band itself.

Sure, Roxy Music’s self-titled debut from the previous year contained a slew of exciting material and aural oddities, the songs being simultaneously both catchy and bizarre, but Peter Sinfield’s production quality lacked. The vocals or instruments ended up either too forceful or too buried in the mix so the listener couldn’t fully appreciate all the delicate nuances Roxy Music offered regarding the fascinating woodwind blasts, keyboard and synth effects, and luscious guitar and bass melody lines.

On For Your Pleasure, however, the overall production (the band self-producing this release) took a giant leap forward, with the collection possessing a sleek and sensual atmosphere, and all of those instrumental idiosyncrasies, those peculiarities that set this band apart from all of its contemporaries, stood on full and wacky display.

Bryan Ferry’s songwriting had grown seemingly by leaps and bounds, his lyrics being especially quirky, clever, and wry, and the musicians had perfected the art of spiraling off on individual whims, occasionally jamming wildly over and around each other within the confines of each song, yet the band still sounded remarkably cohesive and tight.

With classic tracks such as “Do The Strand,” “Editions of You,” The Bogus Man,” “Beauty Queen,” “For Your Pleasure,” and the unforgettable and rather creepy “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” the album contained a wealth of Art Rock experimentation with a touch of Glam, including strange and kooky arrangements, eerie and mind-bending synths and sound effects, all dripping in top-notch elegance and pizzazz, with the end product becoming nothing short of a 5-Star masterpiece.

Unfortunately, this would also be the last album to include Brian Eno, and his genius-like contributions to the Roxy Music sound would be sorely missed on future releases.

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Bryan Ferry – In Your Mind (1977)

BryanFerry_InYourMind4 out of 5 Stars!

No one can deny that vocalist Bryan Ferry has a style and sound all his own. Being a fan of his performances during the Roxy Music years, Bryan’s unique vocals and songwriting always held me in thrall, so I was naturally drawn to his solo efforts.

Unfortunately, since he had a fondness for reworking old “classics,” his early solo albums featured few original compositions (or included only some revamps of early Roxy songs), and since his songwriting/lyrics were exceptional with Roxy Music, I therefore felt slight disappointment.

But once Roxy Music started to fade and Ferry found himself without a working band to record his newest Art Rock/Art Pop songs, his solo albums eventually reflected this shift in focus from “covers” to “originals.” So In Your Mind, the first album of Ferry’s all-original compositions—his fourth solo album overall—was in many respects another Roxy Music album, with numerous tunes sounding as if they could have easily fit somewhere on Siren, for example, and several of his former Roxy cohorts (guitarist Phil Manzanera, drummer Paul Thompson, and bassist John Wetton) making guest appearances.

True, in my eyes, nothing Ferry created on his own could ever come close to topping or at least matching Roxy Music masterpieces (For Your Pleasure, Stranded, etc.), but since the band was technically on “hiatus” during the recording of this album, In Your Mind was the closest one could get to enjoying more Roxy-styled material, even though it’s not quite as cohesive or as “genius.” And although more straightforward and possessing a less “arty” flavor than Roxy Music, In Your Mind nevertheless included several gems such as “This Is Tomorrow,” “Tokyo Joe,” “Party Doll,” “Love Me Madly Again,” and the title track, therefore, it remains my favorite of Ferry’s solo efforts and actually rates higher in my opinion that any of the material Roxy Music released once it reformed for the Manifesto album.

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