BRYAN FERRY - Studio discography in '70...
From his earliest recordings with his group Roxy Music, at the beginning of the 1970s, Bryan Ferry has taken his place as one of the most iconic and innovative singers and lyricists to emerge in popular music. In his music you hear an original vocal brilliance which merges – with effortless, breathtaking elegance – the poise of Sinatra, the charisma of Gainsbourg and the intensity of Johnnie Ray. But then there was something extra – a quality of nuance, verve and performance which seemed so ultra-modern, and so refined, that it seemed to break wholly new ground.
1973 would be a year of extraordinary creativity and punishingly hard work for Bryan Ferry. In addition to his work with Roxy Music, he would record his first solo album ‘These Foolish Things’, which would showcase his founding love of classic rhythm & blues and rock & roll classics, but in a way which was entirely his own. The emotional intensity of Bryan Ferry’s vocal style can be heard to great effect on his epic interpretation of the Bob Dylan classic, ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. This spectacularly theatrical, artistically defining opening track on ‘These Foolish Things’, released in 1973, would introduce what Ferry has described as his ‘ready-mades’; cover versions of recordings by artists whom he admires, which he then interprets in his own style. Like all great singers, he turns the cover version into a form of self portraiture. In the case of ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’, Ferry creates an astonishing fusion of racing energy and high sophistication – turning Dylan’s political allegory into a bravura display of snarling, swaggering cool. Bryan Ferry’s vocal genius lies in his peerless ability to merge musical styles – from French chanson, through classic crooner to hard edged rock – creating that sheen of pure drama which has become his artistic signature. This was the case with his thunderous, pulsing interpretation of the northern soul classic, ‘The In Crowd’, which became a hit for Ferry in 1974. Once again, Ferry takes the existing style of a recording and then creates an amplification of its entire tone and meaning. In this case, the effect of such interpretation is to create a cover version which has the sensuality of pure pop and the emotional sophistication of cinema. Indeed, Ferry’s interpretation of ‘The In Crowd’ has become an iconic statement about high fashion, high society and high living – the mythic soundtrack to the legend of the Jet Set. Bryan Ferry’s second solo album, ‘Another Time, Another Place’ would feature on its sleeve a photograph of the singer taken by Eric Boman. Dressed in a classic white tuxedo, during the blue light of the early evening cocktail hour, against a backdrop of sophisticated party goers gathered beside a swimming pool (one of whom was Ferry’s friend, Manolo Blahnik, the legendary shoe designer), this portrait – a modern update of the mythic glamour of The Great Gatsby – would become one of the defining images of not just Bryan Ferry’s career, but the history of popular culture. Throughout the middle and later years of the 1970s, Bryan Ferry recorded an unbroken series of aggressively modern, intoxicating cover versions – including two of his best loved tracks, ‘Shame Shame Shame’ and Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Stick Together’. Both of these tracks took strength from their pounding, mesmeric beat – which became the perfect chassis for Ferry’s vocal. More than any other singer of his generation, Bryan Ferry performs a song in such a way as to make it entirely his own. His vocal style brings a whole world to life, making each song a dramatic performance. ‘Tokyo Joe’, released in 1977, is a perfect example of Ferry at his most filmic. Inspired by a Hollywood musical from the 1930s, this track maintains a high energy, subterranean night club feel which often distinguishes the potent atmosphere of Ferry’s recordings. As also defined by his work with Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry’s solo work achieves a perfect tension between langour and melodrama, the results of which become a classic definition of high romance. Many of Ferry’s greatest songs describe the fate of the lonely, isolated romantic – always on the outside, even at the heart of the grandest party or the most exotic city. Ferry has said of himself, “I feel always to be on the inside looking out, or the outside looking in…” – the classic situation of the artist.