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4.5 out of 5 stars
Country Life
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 1998
Format: Audio CD
For my money the finest period in the stellar career of Roxy Music is the middle one, sandwiched between their Eno-infused art rock origins and the more pop-oriented later years. This era began with the brilliant, brooding masterpiece Stranded and concluded with the catchy though uneven Siren. Between them lay the band's classic rocker Country Life. Probably best known for its controversial album cover, Country Life nevertheless delivers a steady stream of unabashed rock 'n roll that represents the band's musical virtuosity at its finest. Phil Manzanera's hot guitar licks and Bryan Ferry's cool crooning perfectly offset one another while Andy Mackay's chunky riffs on oboe and sax, Eddie Jobson's stylish keyboards and Paul Thompson's steady thumping keep the tempo offbeat in typical Roxy fashion.
From the opening soaring strains of "The Thrill of it All", Country Life sets off with a soaring energy the band rarely displayed before or after this release. Even when the pace slows, as it does for the hypnotic "Bitter-Sweet", you can cut the group's creative tension with a knife. Country Life is not merely for the highbrow art-rock set, either. I've turned folks who wouldn't know the Velvet Underground from Velveeta onto this record, and it's due mostly to the hard-driving rock standards such as "Out of the Blue", "All I Want is You" and "If It Takes All Night". One for the ages.
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78 of 87 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
This is Roxy Music's most overtly "rock" album. Part of the reason for this is that the group was writing less complex material. Whether this was as a reaction to their prior art-rock leanings, an attempt to become more commercial, or because Bryan Ferry was hearkening back to his soul and pop roots is immaterial; it's probably a little of all the above.
Another factor in this was that the band, at this point, had a very strong power trio at its core. Guitarist Phil Manzanera and drummer Paul Thompson (who is not called "The Great Paul Thompson" by fans for nothing!) were joined by studio bassist John Gustafson. His heavy, muscular bass playing seems to drive Manzanera and Thompson to new heights, especially on "The Thrill of it All," "All I Want is You," "Casanova" and "Bittersweet."
Musically the album is a fairly varied affair, ranging from hard rock to swirling psychedelia ("Out of the Blue" with Eddie Jobson's flanged violin/keyboards, is classic) to more-or-less straight blues and almost-country stylings. All of it works, even the odd "Triptych," which seems to be Ferry's attempt at writing a hymn.
One of the more interesting things about this record is that it is one of the most ripped-off of all Roxy Music albums. For example, Duran Duran built their entire career around rewriting "The Thrill of it All." And the creepy "Bittersweet," with its deliberately maudlin Brecht/Weill opening and the jarring 1930s-Berlin-on-acid section, was stolen lock, stock and barrel by Roger Waters (and bloated beyond endurance) to create the last quarter of the Pink Floyd's "pity-me" epic, "The Wall." As in most cases, the original leaves the imitators looking pale. And whether he means to or not, Ferry out-Elton Johns Elton John with "A Really Good Time," which probably should have been a hit in America. Not to mention "All I Want is You," which is one of the great lost power-pop gems from a band that nobody would suspect of power-pop.
All in all this is a grand record. It's stylish, smart, sharp, and yet has a heart. In an era where rock was often bloated, dunderheaded blues jams played by shaggy guys who hadn't bathed in a while and wore dirty jeans onstage in an attempt to appear "authentic," this record (like all Roxy's records) stood out. And to this day it doesn't sound dated at all. A great accomplishment and still one of the best Roxy Music albums.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 1999
Format: Audio CD
If you didn't know anything about Roxy Music in 1974 & by chance walked into a concert on the Country Life tour, you would have thought these guys were one of the best straight-ahead hard-rocking bands in the world. Unfortunately, the buzz Roxy got in the U.S. effectively convinced most folks that Roxy was some artsy, difficult band that should play in conservatories instead of arenas. As a result, NO ONE HEARD THEM HERE!
Well, almost no one. I caught them in Boston at a small hall that was mostly empty. You could tell they were not real happy about the size of the crowd, but they proceeded to rip through most of Country Life and some of their beloved uptempo early stuff. Rockers like "The Thrill Of It All," "All I Want Is You," & "Prairie Rose" with barely a trace of irony. All at a loud & breakneck pace that bordered on frightening.
Since that Roxy never resurfaced after Country Life, this album is all the more essential. The predominant mood here is set by the pounding drums of Paul Thompson & Phil Manzanera's guitar work. Incredibly, there is even a straight-up blues ("If It Takes All Night") with Bryan Ferry blowing a credible harp solo. It also has one of the very best Roxy songs ever, "Out Of The Blue," perhaps the only song featuring violin & oboe that is capable of taking your head off at high volume levels. A great, great album.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2004
Format: Audio CD
For anyone who doubts and scoffs at the thought of post-Eno Roxy Music, this album is bound to put a deafening end to anyone's complaining. Roxy, simply put, rocks on this album.

The Thrill Of It All: Beginning with a heavy guitar by Mazanera, this opener is a fantastic rush into the world Roxy has created on Country Life. Leaving behind the keyboard driven sound Roxy often had with Eno, this song rips into full blown guitar-driven rock, followed by the delightful and unique sound of the electric violin. The electric aspect of the violin sums up the electrifying sounds the album has to offer.

Three And Nine: A slower, more melody driven tune that might seem a bit dull compared to the opener, but the song is just so pleasant and mysterious that one can't help but like it. It has a playful seductive quality, as if one can imagine Ferry winking suggestively while he sings.

All I Want Is You: The song that brings down the house on the album. A pure rush of lust and love, this song has the guitars driving just as crazily as the object of Bryan's affection must have been driving him. Just a classic rock n' roll song, with a fresh new sound! The best thing about Roxy's music during this era is that it so heavily steeped in rock n' roll, but doesn't have that droning 1970s feel that its contemporaries do. It's a fresh, new experience into the sound, and an exhilarating one at that.

Out Of The Blue: This song swirls in, right out of the previous one, and takes you on a fabulous ride. The time changes make it a truly unique experience, and one that is never boring, no matter how many times you hear it.

If It Takes All Night: The classic 1950s, rockabilly homage song that reflects those on their previous albums. What is so great about Roxy Music is that they don't cover their influences songs, but rather invent their own based on what their heroes' music sounded like, and in turn create modern-day classics.

Bitter Sweet: Like the song that precedes it, Bitter Sweet is an homage song to the style of the notorious Kurt Weill. Ferry not only pays homage the sound, but pushes the envelope of inventive rock with this epic and chilling tune. It works so well because of its originality, highlighting the hallmarks of a Weill tune while also exemplifying Ferry's disenchanted playboy persona.

Triptych: To me, this is the albums shining jewel achievement. For people skeptical about Roxy's innovative and experimental qualities without Eno, this track with certainly change their minds. Filled to the brim with religious imagery, the song is structured in three parts of nothing but pure harpsichord and harmony. Sounding like something of a medieval chant under the influence, the song might catch one off guard at first. However, upon multiple listening, the perfectly suited structure and divine lyrics make the song an absolute hallmark of Roxy's brilliance as a rock band unafraid of any territory in music, including harmonious and baroque epics of religious subject.

Casanova: For those who think Bryan Ferry incapable of writing a song with truly biting lyrics, this will change your mind. Nothing but a string of insults, the song is reputed to be inspired by none other than former band mate Brian Eno. With an intoxicated guitar and violin, Ferry lets the songs subject know just exactly what he feels about the said casanova, ending with bitter result and one of Ferry's most cynical songs.

A Really Good Time: A sort of 'All Tomorrow's Parties' of Roxy, this song assures us that though Bryan has his hatred, he's still a guy with a heart. A typical Ferry ballad, it shows the more optimistic side of Bryan, yet he remains distant, only to assure us that it is someone else who'll be having all the fun rather than himself.

Prairie Rose: One hell of an ending, this song let's us know that Roxy is going out with a BANG. Inspired by the long, tall Texan Bryan was dating at the time, Jerry Hall, the song draws on its rockabilly and Western influences and produces a thrilling trip about the gorgeous land and lady that capture Bryan's attentions. Once again, this song proves Roxy's flexibility and utter eclecticism that makes Roxy, to me, the best rock n' roll band of the post-Beatles era.

I can only say so much about how good this album is. For anyone who is skeptical about it due to the lack of Eno, or perhaps the half-naked babes on the cover, I think the music speaks for itself. Bryan and the band had pushed themselves to a new level or experimentation and all around uniqueness that the band never captured quite so well as they did here. Truly thrilling, exciting, and never a dull moment, this album will appeal to anyone looking for that extra kick, seeking a sound fretted with the rocking quality that puts the 'rock' in 'rock n' roll'.

So, if you'll excuse Bryan for his grandiose ideas of a country life filled with goregous German women, the music will take you to a place so grand that even the cover might seem dull by comparision.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Although they would continue to develop and produce albums just as good as this, COUNTRY LIFE became Roxy's most accomplished and mature album. The songs are terrific and the few weak ones are ably supported by great band arrangements & playing.
This is the album where Roxy fans began to really appreciate Paul Thompson's powerful drumming. Manzanera's guitar playing is both masterful and inventive.
COUNTRY LIFE is certainly one of the best albums of the 70's and, despite misguided critical observations about SIREN, their best effort.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This album is everything that is good about Roxy Music. It's hard to imagine any album that so perfectly encompasses what they're all about. Don't let the racy sleeve make you think this album is trying to sell itself on that. It rocks all the way through, and it just sounds like a great exercise in how to sound stylish and not at all boring.

Roxy Music weren't actors - they lived the songs. So if you like slightly quirky old-fashioned style rock and having a great time, do yourself a favour and buy yourself this great album. Bryan Ferry has a real natural talent for making music.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2008
Format: Audio CD
After reading a few ho hum reviews about this album, I scrolled up and looked at the songs again. Not a loser in the bunch. I have owned at least 5 versions of this as an LP, cassette or cd and this is absolutely the one to buy if you want to experience Roxy Music at it's best. The lineup is incredible and each song is a unique experience. If this music doesn't get you up and moving, you must be dead.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It is 1930's Germany and you are ensconced in the cold and bleak Black Forest...

Distant sounds draw you to a strange yet inviting tavern. You enter, to be immediately bombarded with a futuristic electric wall of sound. Its familiar - yet combines the past and the future. Phil Spector will create similar...but this is a sleazy, decadent version that aggrandizes drug taking, narcissism and hedonism.

The "folk" inside are clad in leather, fishnets, military uniforms or nothing! Intoxicating substances abound...
The soundtrack is Roxy Music's Country Life and these are the images and atmosphere it conjures. And the two semi-clad German femme-fatales in foliage on the cover truly epitomise this decadent world.

It is my opinion that Roxy's fourth album is the pinnacle of their career. The stylish London band had aural singular jewels like Mother of Pearl, In Every Dream Home Heartache and Ladytron on previous albums - but this entire CD has a soundscape that is unrelenting, lush and melodic. Indeed, Suede, Placebo, Ultravox and Pulp would try and fail to emulate this 70s rock masterpiece.

It commences and finishes with the incendiary guitar of Phil Manzanera, and in between throws up gems such as The Thrill of It All: its syncopated drum, lead guitar and piano offer Bryan Ferry a platform to deliver his SS Officer's like vocal delivery.

The string tinged Three and Nine melodiously praises that great year of cinema. All I Want Is You is Ferry's most straight forward song - boy adores girl lyric, with accessible back-beat. It would be the only single from the album.

Out Of The Blue features a soaring violin solo, which is underpinned by the Great Paul Thompson on drums. An R'N'B number, If It Takes All Night is Roxy playing for fun. Casanova is a venomous concoction about an anti-hero who flirts with drugs, and is probably the album's centre-piece: complete with swirling, almost heavy rock production. A Really Good Time utilises Eddie Jobson's violin and piano to underscore a memorable and haunting refrain.

Finally, the piece-de-resistance: Prairie Rose - my all-time favourite number! Ferry sings exuberantly and Roxy play with great gusto and passion. It's his ode to Texan flame and former Jagger beau, Jerry Hall, and it's not hard to note the unrestrained joy in El Ferrari's voice. Andy Mackay's sax blows up a storm and Manzanera's jingle-jangle coda lingers long after its fadeout.

Overall, this is my favourite seventies album because of the tunes, playing and production. The HDCD version greatly improves the sound quality of this lush production as individual instruments can be distinguished, and this was the last time that Ferry, with Roxy, delivered a half-spoken, half- sung style that I prefer.

Country Life is influential to the point of plagiarism for many later English bands. It is quite simply Roxy's magnum opus.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This album is by far the best of Roxy's catalogue (I own all their albums except Heart Still Beating and Live 2001). It deserves 10 STARS! If you buy only one Roxy studio album (hard not to, they're all bloody brilliant, even a few tracks of Manifesto), this must be it! Here are my opinions on the tracks:

1. The Thrill Of It All 10/10- What a brilliant way to start the album, Bryan Ferry's lyrics and Phil Manzanera's guitar are an excellent combination and this song could be released today and not sound dated one bit!

2. Three And Nine 15/10- Sweet acoustic guitar driven song with some sonic textures and some excellent sax and harmonica work

3. All I Want Is You 10/10- The most recognised song off this album, again excellent guitar rock and lyrics!

4. Out Of The Blue 13/10- The standouts just keep rolling here, this is Eddie Jobson's moment with his violin solo- there will NEVER be anything in rock music like this AGAIN!

5. If It Takes All Night 8/10- 50s doowop parody, the weakest track here but still 8/10!

6. Bitter-Sweet 9/10- A ballad and 'elephant march' in one song, great German chorus too

7. Triptych 9/10- This song should have been in Monty Python And The Holy Grail, which coincidentally was being made at the same time as this album

8. Casanova 10/10- Another killer track with creepy organ and sax solos

9. A Really Good Time 10/10- Sweet piano and violin ballad, sweet lyrics too and is the only real soft song here

10. Prairie Rose 9/10- What a brilliant way to close this magnificent masterpiece with an ode to Texas!

Overall 12/10

PS- This album is worth the sticker price for the sleeve alone (ESPECIALLY THE VINYL VERSION!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Took me a long long time to get past that album cover (20 y/o testosterone, and all that) - but 2 of my favorite Roxy songs are on here. 1) "Bittersweet," the concluding chorus to which, Ferry sounds like he's being carried away by Hitler's troups (although a 2 hour glance thru a German textbook belonging to my wife, revealed that Ferry's just really bellowing, "NO, IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, I THINK I'LL JUST SIT HERE AND DRINK!") And 2) "If It Takes All Night" - about the closest thing Roxy ever did to a regular 12-bar/3 chord song. But those are MY faves, not a bad song on the album at all. And, yes, the word to keep in mind, while experiencing "Street Life," is, of course, DECADANCE.
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