on October 27, 2010
I've been listening to Bryan Ferry since I bought For Your Pleasure on vinyl in the 1973. I think some of the reviewers miss the point. This is not Roxy Music circa 1973. This is an absolutely beautiful record. Reason or Rhyme and Me Oh My are two his very best songs in years. This is his best solo record since The Bride Stripped Bare. The production values on this record are stunning. It's one of the most complex headphone listening records I own. Admittedly you will get more out of this record on a very good stereo or listening to it through a high quality set of headphones. I'm not sure this is Ipod music. Highly recommended but not for people on a nostalgia trip or can't stand an artist who doesn't repeat the same thing he did 35 years ago. In comparison to a lot of artists who I listened to in the 70's Bryan Ferry still sounds like he actually enjoys what he does. I can't say the same thing for David Bowie or the Rolling Stones to name two. Interesting enough, I played this for some younger people (in their 20's) who had no idea who Bryan Ferry was. They loved it. They were quite surprised when I told them how old he was. Bryan Ferry and Nick Cave are proof positive that rock can still be relevant when played by 50+ year olds.
on October 25, 2010
This is a review of Bryan Ferry "Olympia" CD/DVD Deluxe Edition. This review is meant to summarize the Deluxe Edition of the album. Hope it helps you decide which edition to get. It doesn't do a track by track analysis because that is really for the listener to experience. But, I will tell you the song titled "BF Bass" basically means Bryan Ferry Bass (just in case you were wondering...I was)...j/k. Now as far as the deluxe edition is concerned: the content is packaged in a nice case with binding similar to a book. The book is a hardcover with a slipcase on the front and back that is glued to the book. Certain to create nice little scuff marks on the discs during frequent use. You may need to bring your own jewel cases to this set. A good example that springs to mind (as far as the "book" presentation) would be the recent Kylie Minogue Deluxe edition of "Aprodite." Inside the book contains the lyrics to the songs, pictures of Kate Moss, a brief two page description of the album that recounts Ferry past/present/future written by Richard Williams (I wasn't too big on the style this was written but whatever, some will think it is cool, it kinda is), and a nice photo of Bryan Ferry by Anton Corbijn. The DVD contained is Region Free NTSC that provides an excellent 27 minute behind the scenes of the making of the album. Shows the cast that made this album come to life. This album has a nice amount guest stars. For those interested in buying this because of guest stars on the DVD. The DVD does show David Gilmour but, no interview. Flea is shown and a very brief interview. Brian Eno is talked about but, not shown or interviewed. Steve Nieve is talked about but not seen. Good footage and interview snippets of Nile Rodgers and Jake Shears and Babydaddy. A brief interview of Groove Armada. Phil Manzanera is on many songs but, not on the DVD same with Dave Stewart. Nice interview of producer Johnson Somerset. Lots of Bryan Ferry interview and footage. Also a nice tribute to guitar player David Williams. Also nice footage of young guitar player Oliver Thompson (whom I wasn't famalair with) and Bryan Ferry's son Tara on drums with Andy Newmark. The DVD is directed by Ferry's other son Isaac Ferry. All in all the DVD is shot with beautiful lighting and really brings the album to life. Also included is the video for "You Can Dance."
Now for the music aspect. It must be known there is a more expensive version of this album coming out at the beginning of November called "The Immersion Edition," with a bigger book and an extra disc of six remixes and one instrumental. So yeah, this package does lack the remixes but, that set is almost as much as a cheap suit.
The CD included in this package is amazing. The music is pure Bryan Ferry. I liked "Frantic" but this is no "Frantic-era" Ferry. This album reminds me of the Bryan Ferry of the Avalon-Boys and Girls era. Words don't do the music justice but, it sounds like the Bryan Ferry of the 80's sting by a bumble-bee of 2010. Every song on this album is really incredible. It's not necessarily the type of album to sample on sound snippets but, really needs to be experienced in full. The regular CD ends with a song called "Tender is the Night" which is an excellent conclusion to the album and really acts a dimly lit candle burning out beautifully. The Deluxe edition CD has two bonus tracks: a John Lennon cover of "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" which is sung and arranged wonderfully and a Smiley Lewis cover (Elvis often sang live) of "One Night" which is sung well too. Both of these songs would have fit well during the album perhaps they were left off to focus more on the Ferry-penned material. The regular CD already has one excellent cover of the Traffic song "No Face No Name No Number" and a cover of the Tim Buckley song "Song to the Siren." The "Song to the Siren" bears little resemblence to the Tim Buckley original nor the This Mortal Coil cover. It sounds like if "Song to the Siren" was thrown into the Avalon-era Roxy Music Bizarro time warp complete but this time with Brian Eno on keyboards and even whale noises.
For the extra few dollars I highly recommend this package. The DVD is top notch (and works on US DVD players) the two extra tracks are not essential to the album but, a nice touch. If you have never liked the style of Bryan Ferry solo or Avalon-era Roxy I don't think you'll be liking this CD. If you only like early experimental Roxy Music you may not be too big on this CD. I was disappointed when I first heard he was making another solo album and not another Roxy Music album. My feelings have since changed because I think this is probably the best CD he has put out post Roxy and one of the coolest CD's of 2010 thus far. Buy it if want something just plain cool.
on November 11, 2010
The Golden Voice is back.
In a year when big names have reappeared after search parties had long given up hope, only to deliver the worst album of their respective careers (Sade, Peter Gabriel), Bryan Ferry's first album of new material in eight years shows that he's as fresh and relevant as ever.
While rumors of this album swirled like so many of the dizzying performances of the several guitarists who would eventually play on it, there seemed reason for concern. Ferry started courting the European club crowd, and in 2009 he was the lead vocalist on an endless ten minute European "club hit" by DJ Hell. And then word came that he'd also soon be working with Groove Armada, Scissor Sisters, Flea, Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood. There was a whiff of desperation. One wondered if Ferry were trying too hard. And if so, why should he have to? It's often been a head-scratcher as to why Ferry isn't a household name in the States, much less inducted in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame (which remains doubly insipid without him in it). It's long been music's Golden Ticket just to be asked to appear on a Ferry album; Bete Noire, his final album of the 1980s featured over forty musicians (but in the 1980s Ferry was a man whose every move was written about in all caps).
The star-studded Olympia (even Kate Moss has a role as a femme fatale on the album cover) opens up with the unmistakable first seven seconds of Roxy Music's gorgeous swan song, "True to Life." But that elegiac tone is quickly disposed of and "You Can Dance" digs right in, trying to force its way into your head. This is new ground, because Ferry's music--like the man himself--has always made inroads with nothing but grace and élan. The insistence of the song is a bit jarring at first, but patience is rewarded. The groove is so thick and layered that this song becomes the best piece of black clothing in your wardrobe.
The next track, "Alphaville," is vintage Ferry through and through. From the faint female dialogue at the start, to the swirling Eno orchestration of the song, and of course that voice--that iconic, quivering, wavering, tapered voice--that loves tracks full of mysteries and insinuations, all in the service of lines like "I'm hungry for your lies/Your screams and whispers."
The much-talked about collaboration with Scissor Sisters, "Heartache By Numbers," has a lighter canvas than one is used to in Ferry's later work. But it's also got a lovely thumping beat and only the bridge toward song's end is a misstep; it goes for pop when it should have gone for nocturne.
"Me Oh My," is emblematic twilight Ferry; smoldering and hesitating, it's a bedraggled lothario trawling the night for one last fix. Love, we all know by now, is Ferry's drug. The cliché fits because as much as Presley owned the hip shake, Jagger owns the prance, Dylan owns the mumble, and Cohen owns the dark humor, Ferry owns the persona of the handsome stranger, left outside of too many of life's more decadent obligations. He is after all the man responsible for one of the greatest lines in music, 1973's purr to an inflatable doll: "I blew up your body/But you blew my mind."
The club-friendly Groove Armada collaboration, "Shameless," has a shimmer and a bravado that gives the record another jolt of exuberance. And it's a nice lift before the second act which begins with a cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren." In addition to guitar work from the wisely-chosen Nile Rodgers and Oliver Thompson, the three other guitarists on this one track--David Gilmour, Phil Manzanera, and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood--all combine to create a near-trance inducing ode to . . . a Roxy Music album? One can't listen to this song without thinking of 1975's Siren. It is a triumphant instruction on how to cover someone else's work. The loveliness of the song is so incantatory, that it carries the listener over the next two tracks: the slighty-lazy AM-radio-friendly cover of Traffic's "No Face, No Name, No Number," and the funk desires of the album's real clunker, "BF Bass (Ode to Olympia)." The title alone of the latter track makes one suspect Ferry of trying a bit too hard, and then the passing reference to Facebook, and the insistent chorus of "Love, love, you fit me like a glove" only confirms as much.
But Ferry, is of course, an artist of the highest order; he would never end an album on a reaching note. For Roxy Music's legendary final album, Avalon, he famously took the trademark starlet pin-up down from the cover, draped heavy velvets over every inch of her exposed flesh before having her turn her back to the camera while Ferry himself orchestrated the album's funereal fadeout, "Tara." And three years later, in his masterpiece Boys and Girls he ended with the title track's final rip of the drum, letting it echo through the empty streets at nighttime, searching for those last two lovers who had strolled the shimmering sidewalks but had yet to succumb to Ferry's curfew of bedrooms and hotel suites.
"Olympia" offers as fine a closing one-two punch as anything since Kate Bush's "Nocturn" and "Aerial" roared into Aerial's ether in 2005. "Reason or Rhyme" is Ferry at his most touching and ethereal. Its sparse lyric and dreamy atmospherics reminds one of Avalon's "The Space Between." The difference now is that Ferry is sixty-five and when he sings "Why must you shed such tender tears/In the evening of your years?" the question is urgent, the voice is vulnerable, the answer necessary. It is a gorgeous trance-inducing seven minutes that, in a strange way, resets the tone of the album and lays out the carpet for the F. Scott Fitzgerald finale, "Tender is the Night."
This quiet, gorgeous ballad starts with the smooth buzz of a dial spanning the frequency spectrum of an old radio. A piano soon takes over and the hushed immediacy of Ferry's vocals reminds you that it's as great a musical instrument as we have across the musical landscape. The song has a decadent whiff of nostalgia to it, as if the song itself is proof that grown men do in fact spend summers along the east coast, the grassy hillocks tinting their bare feet green; that these characters are real and not just the imaginings of an elegantly choreographed photo shoot for a preppy summer line of an eponymous brand of clothing. "It makes no sense," Ferry sings, "you think of me/out of place/in your society/I wanna be where strangers meet/I wanna hold you at the dark end of the street." And so the genius again has hit his marks. He's earned the Fitzgeraldian title of the song as he paints as fine an image possible of the struggle of love among society's clashing social circles. The song is so hypnotic in its movement, that the listener is able to conjure the Shakespearean moths, the bothery mosquitoes, and the once-envious fireflies as they form their exodus from the "dark end of the street" where a couple is locked in an embrace, the street quiet and tender, the only movement is the slow sway of the glass casing of the streetlight that has been left open while its removed bulb is cradled for the moment in the woman's purse.
on November 2, 2010
I'm a big Bryan Ferry Fan.. I think Boys and Girls and Bete Noire are my favorite things he's done. I was happy to hear some
material on Olympia that reminded me of those works and I'd say about half the CD works for me. There's a handful of tracks that
just seem trite and the lyrics seem like they wrote a song around a semi-clever title they liked, but the writing is uninspired.
Most of all I'm highly disappointed by the production and mixing on this CD. It's flat sounding, no dynamics, the clarity and punch just isn't there. And his voice is buried in the mix. There's no excuse for this given the tools they have today as well as the talent Bryan has at his disposal. Older CDs like Boys and Girls blow this CD sonically out of the water when I play them next to each other.
I'm still a big fan and this overall is one of my favorite CDs he's put out in a while. I just wish the production, recording and mixing wasn't so... blah.
Nevertheless, I still recommend the CD because if you like Bryan's music, there's no substitute. Just like Sade.. there's only one of them doing what they do and nobody else sounds like them. Rock on Bryan :-)
on October 25, 2010
I just listened to the new Bryan Ferry album OLYMPIA. This album is the perfect match to 2002's FRANTIC. Not to put down 2007's DYLANESQUE but this album puts Bryan back in top form. We begin with the song YOU CAN DANCE, which is groove oriented track that can close down any nightclub. It's sultry nature harkens back to the BETE NOIR album. It's a killer track that uses a keyboard sample from the song TRUE TO LIFE from ROXY MUSIC's AVALON album.
The second song is ALPHAVILLE, which any die-hard fan knows that the song was to be the title track for an album entitled ALPHAVILLE which either got shelved or never came to fruition. It is a modest rocker with some really decent guitar hooks. It was co-written by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics who has produced Bryan in previous efforts.
On to my favorite song... ME OH MY, I can't properly describe this song other than it's AWESOME! I love the vocal arrangements, the piano, the guitars everything. It has a melody that that makes you hit the repeat button often. In my opinion it's easily the best song on the album.
SHAMELESS is a collaboration with GROOVE ARMADA and was released earlier this year. It is a pure club song of which I'm glad that Bryan is going back to those kinds of songs. He has an inate ability to find grooves that really hold up and the collaboration with Groove Armada enhances that experience, which allows for re-mixes.
SONG TO THE SIREN is a TIM BUCKLEY (late singer/songwriter and father of the late singer/songwriter JEFF BUCKLEY : see my review of Jeff's album GRACE ) remake that sounds like a Ferry original. Ferry has a knack for turning other people's material into standards that are better than the original artist(s). NO FACE, NO NAME, NO NUMBER is another re-make of an old TRAFFIC song that sounds better than the original. Ferry's vocals are effortless and smooth on this track, an absolute gem.
BF BASS ( Ode to Olympia ) is co-written by ROXY MUSIC bandmate PHIL MANZANERA and feels like a track off of Ferry's 1993 album TAXI. It's a decent track but I feel the weakest.
HEARTACHE BY NUMBERS is reminiscent of a track off 2002's FRANTIC and has a shimery chorus that leaves the listener chanting the title of the song over and over. A really good track.
REASON OR RHYME is a Ferry original that sounds like it could have been a track for the new ROXY MUSIC record. It clocks in at 6:52 and harkens back to when ROXY MUSIC had those mini opus tracks from the SIREN era. It has an interesting chorus and hook but too long.
TENDER IS THE NIGHT is the final song on the standard version of OLYMPIA and is co-written by DAVE STEWART and feels like an ELVIS ballad to me or maybe a track from FRANTIC. A soft and gentle track that is appropriate for a closer.
The extended version includes 2 additional tracks: JOHN LENNON's WHATEVER GETS YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT and a ELVIS PRESELY standard ONE NIGHT.
This album is sulky and sexy and show's that BRYAN FERRY IS BACK AND IN HIS TRUE FORM.
BRIAN ENO's sonics and undercurrents are everywhere on this record. It's stacked full of talent from FLEA of the RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS, Bass player MARCUS MILLER, Super Producer NILE RODGERS on guitar, DAVID GILMOUR from PINK FLOYD, PHIL MANZANERA, ANDY MACKAY, PAUL THOMPSON, TARA FERRY and on and on THIS IS A GREAT RECORD. Not to mention a cover to kill for with the lovely KATE MOSS as the cover model. GREAT! GREAT! GREAT!
Reviewing other reviews is probably a bit esoteric, but I am amused by some of the negative sentiments from people who seem shocked...SHOCKED that this doesn't sound exactly like a 1970's Roxy Music disc. Well, duh, Bryan Ferry has sort of been there and done that. This is really great material, well executed, well produced and well recorded. The songs are really enjoyable, and my first impulse after listening to it in my car was to play it again. I liked his Dylan phase, but I am really pleased to see him back to doing his own stuff again (and a cover of "Song to the Siren"). And, as others have noted, it is really heartwarming to see him teamed up with all the core members of Roxy again. There were some bad feelings between those boys for awhile (Eno seemed particularly pissed off right after he left; if you don't believe me, listen to the scathing lyrics and unflattering impersonation he does in the song "Dead Finks Don't Talk"). But Eno has appeared on a few Ferry discs now, and with the appearance on this one of him, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, well, it just feels like a happy family reunion. If you like Ferry's singing and sensibility as an artist, don't be put off by the naysayers: this is a solid record and I think you'll enjoy it.
on November 8, 2010
This is an awesome album. The thing hasn't come out of my CD player in two weeks. I love it. Like Little Brother says "I listen to the whole joint, cause I like to get the whole point." Just a clean, classy, well-made album from beginning to end. La Dolce Vita baby!
on January 14, 2013
Like T.Rex is Marc Bolan, Roxy Music is Brian Ferry. But for some reason I never figured out, Brian Ferry is at his best when he's part of Roxy Music. His solo albums are great, but never reach the perfection of Avalon or Stranded, my two favourite Roxy Music albums.
Olympia is almost a Roxy Music album: The jacket reminds us of the very first album, the intro of "You can dance" is taken directly from Avalon's "True to life", three members of Roxy Music are one some tracks (MacKay, Manzanera, Brian Eno) and we can sometimes feel the spirit of the later edition of Roxy Music, say, from Manifesto.
But it is not a Roxy Music album. Most tracks are good, but they will wear out after a while. I don't think I'll revisit Olympia in 10 years from now. But I will still be listening to Roxy Music.
Brian Ferry, we love you but, for our pleasure, stick with Roxy Music. Your old pals know your the boss, but boy, do they know how to extract the best of you.
That said, Olympia is still way above the crowd, well worth one's attention.
on May 8, 2014
Some of my favorite records are the Roxy and Ferry LPs of the 80s: Avalon, Bette Noir, etc etc, usually those produced by Rhett Davies. Seems like in later years the sonic layering piled on exponentially and he got harder to understand. I'd wonder, why write lyrics when the vocals sound like mud? OK, to the present. I like some of the cuts on this disc as much as those from the past: he's great when collaborating with Eno, Phil and his buds from the golden days. "Song to the Siren" is such a great tune for him to cover, it sounds like it's one of his own. Bryan, I want a full-blown Roxy disc right now and listen to your friends when they input. It makes you better.
on April 10, 2011
Let's get this out of the way, off the top. I love Bryan Ferry. Roxy Music's Avalon is one of my all-time favourite albums. The solo records Boys and Girls and Bête Noire are terrific, with Frantic a much under-appreciated gem. I actually wore my Bête Noire concert t-shirt yesterday. And, it still fits -- although like a glove :( Getting to Olympia, I'm afraid the new Bryan Ferry album is not up to snuff. Sure it exudes the trademark Ferry cool. The voice is still strong and Olympia is well-produced with Rhett Davies on board again. But to these ears Olympia just sounds too calculated, too safe. The songs are just OK. It's the textures and the occasional neat David Gilmour or Phil Manzenera riff that rescues Olympia from certain disaster. However, the track Shameless with Groove Amanda is a train-wreck, which ruins a pretty decent start with You Can Dance, Alphaville, Heartache by Numbers. The cover art of Kate Moss is nothing special either. And in that respect, any album that lists "hair" and "make-up" in the art credits next to a listing of musicians is probably all sheen and gloss veneer. In the final analysis, Olympia is an album that you will play every so often because it is the latest Ferry. It's decent, but ultimately disappointing.