Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bryan Ferry - Olympia

I’m straight-up hetero, but there’s part of me that believes Bryan Ferry could pitch enough woo to successfully get me to drop my trousers like an uglier, hairier Country Life model.

The ban from Wal-Mart would be justifiable and necessarily swift.

Olympia does much to get my naughty parts tingly, mainly prompted by the record’s unabashed nod to Roxy’s quintessential soundtrack for gettin’ it on, Avalon. Like a found bottle of Hai Karate, Olympia brings back a lot of the same sound and textures, making it a no-brainer for any fan of that Roxy Music album.

And the gangs all here too: Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay-hell, even Brian Eno shows up-making this record as close to an Avalon follow-up as you could ever have.

What makes it more of an Avalon or solo-Ferry effort than-sigh-a For Your Pleasure follow-up is that he’s made a career out of this sort of pillow talk cool to ever want to return to his art-school youth.

Besides, models are easier than the Camus-welding sect, and they call for a driver to pick them up in the morning.

The guest list isn’t just restricted to Roxy-alumni and cover girls (this time it’s Kate Moss).  That suave fuck Ferry managed to melt the hearts of David Gilmour, Johnny Greenwood, Nile Rodgers, and Flea to help him give his new label’s promotional department with an enviable amount of co-stars for the press release.

What you won’t read in the factoids is how two of Olympia’s tracks, “Alphaville” and “You Can Dance,” are leftovers from an aborted Ferry album from the 90’s produced with Dave Stewart. The project was tentatively titled Alphaville, and these re-worked versions here are much more sonically pleasing than Stewart’s dated production values on the original, particularly on the opener “You Can Dance.”

It could have easily been titled “True To Life.” like it was originally known when it was first released on Avalon.

Thankfully, there are enough examples of modern-day lushness to not put Olympia entirely on the New Romantic revival bandwagon. You’ll hear moments of weird electronics that pop in an out of the mix and small bits of dialogue creep behind the layers of guitar, synthesizers, and perennial soulful female backing vocals.

When he tackles Tim Buckley’s “Song To The Siren,” I’m weak in the knees; there’s little within his version that can convince me otherwise that Ferry is one of the best song interpreters in the business today.

By “Reason Or Rhyme,” Ferry’s voice displays toils from age as he pleads, “Wherever you are/Whenever you speak/These are the moments in my life/That I seek.”  Yes, even when groveling in front of love like a desperate, aged bachelor, he sounds positively passionate in his sincerity.

Be still my beating heart.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

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