Uncut: The 100 Greatest Debut Albums (2006) (number: 9)
Art and rock; what a thrilling concept. It is sometimes hard to believe as they now seem so much part of the establishment, just how dramatic an inroad Roxy Music (their very name a pun on 'rock' as well as music to evoke the glamour of the cinema) made as they seemingly emerged fully-formed in 1972 with the single "Virginia Plain" and this, their debut album. Although coming from art school was nothing new in pop, leader Bryan Ferry, a man who had sung soul standards in a north east band, had studied under pop artist Richard Hamilton. He was determined to bring this style and detachment into his new band. With incredibly talented musicians Andy MacKay and, finally Phil Manzanera and the addition of MacKay's friend, non-musician Brian Eno, the band had a remarkable style and musical offering: scintillating post-modernism, a blazing trail of the future and the past.
Emerging out of the milieu of a cocktail party, the rocking rumble of "Re-Make/Re-Model", a love song likening a car ('CPL 593H') to a woman, smashes in. All the band work through their party pieces, there's drum solos and everything, it references rock and roll, but it still sounds like the future. And that's before other dense and varied works such as "2 H.B" (that's Humphrey Bogart), "Ladytron" and "If There Is Something". The band established themselves as the most interesting thing to emerge on the UK scene since David Bowie. The magazine Phonograph Record went further. In block capitals it spelt out "THIS IS IT. THIS IS WHAT YOU'VE BEEN MOANING FOR SINCE 69 AND IT'S HERE NOW SO DON'T BLOW IT." Roxy Music couldn't sustain this incredible level of innovation for long, but the souvenirs of when they were ahead of the curve are as thrilling and essential as they were in 1972/73.