Thursday, February 09, 2017

BOOK REVIEW! REMAKE/REMODEL, BECOMING ROXY MUSIC by Michael Bracewell (Da Capo Press, 2007)

I'm sure that after the reams of comic strip and book collection reviews you have been reading in what ostensibly is supposed to be a "rock 'n roll blog" you might be surprised to find a book such as this up on the critical appraisal chopping block. Well yeah, I will admit that there are some books dedicated to the musical form floating about out there that are worthy of scrutiny here at BTC, and this particular read is one of the few I've come across as of late that deserves exposure to a wider audience. And that's even if the darn thing is nigh on ten years old (and now available cheap...why'd'ja think I picked it up inna first place???) but you do need to be made aware of it.

Sure there have been many a book dedicated to Roxy Music and I'll bet some of them are even good reading goin' beyond the usual Bryan Ferry's favorite color cheap teenybop coverage that one used to see in adolescent-girl-aimed mags world-wide. Well, at least until the brave souls at ROLLING STONE created rock journalism and we eventually got to find out what Bryan Ferry's favorite sex device was! But how many books really delved into the roots of Roxy, discussing the influences and kultural/artistic backgrounds that made the group what is was at least to a whole slew of backwards suburban slob mid-teens deprived of rock energy so much that the local record shop became like a meeting place for those who wanted to scam at least a li'l high energy in their otherwise drab lives.

REMAKE/REMODEL is remarkable enough in this respect...I mean for years we've heard about the art school backgrounds of Ferry along with Andy Mackay and Eno but this portion of the chaps' lives were always passed over in favor of the big fame days. Well, this book remedies that great hunka missing gap inna Roxy saga, starting with the early upbringings of the boys inna band (well at least the major ones...Paul Thompson is ignored as usual) well into their coming of age edjamacation days when they were soaking up all of the hip new moves in art and music which, combined with the head-on pop and rock of the day, eventually made the Roxy Music machine the most hotcha musical move of the early and mid-seventies that it most certainly was!

Monikers familiar and not like pioneering multi-media artist Richard Hamilton and avant garde composer Cornelius Cardew pop into the mix along with the various artist cliques that had surrounded these fellows during one of the more fruitful times in art as energy. And true, there are some points that have been written about into the ground are covered and I wouldn't have minded more info regarding Eno's tenure with the Scratch Orchestra amongst other details, but there's still a whole lotta info regarding those early days that's thankfully delved into bound to sate even a crazed nitpicker such as I.

Surprisingly enough there's a whole lotta history and insight that I never knew about before brought up here that in no way ever thought would be disseminated to the public and really, if you were one of those boys who used to leer at the cover of COUNTRY LIFE at the record shop starin' at them gals' see-through undies and bellybuttons then man, this is the kinda book you sure wish you had back '75 way!

Not only that but it's got a whole slewfulla good snaps not only of some of the Roxys themselves during their up-and-coming art school days but those of their mentors and their definitely Warhol/Rauschenberg-inspired pop-art productions. Unfortunately the oft talked about but never seen snap of Ferry posing by his Studebaker (the same one mentioned in "Virginia Plain") is not here, but somehow I get the impression that we'll never get to see that 'un! Also there's no mention of the Scratch Orchestra spinoff COMET who preceded Roxy as far as electronic Velvetisms go, but then again I get the feeling that their material's gonna come out the day I die which would be typical timing considering the life I've led!

But if you of those guys who ears perked up back when those old albums were coming out and perhaps picked up some beat up John Cage album or old library art book to get a li'l more background on it all then well,  you might just like it.


diskojoe said...

"Unfortunately the oft talked about but never seen snap of Ferry posing by his Studebaker (the same one mentioned in "Virginia Plain") is not here, but somehow I get the impression that we'll never get to see that 'un!"

Could this be the piccy?:

Christopher Stigliano said...

Could be.

diskojoe said...

By the way, the Stude that Mr. Ferry is modeling with is probably a 1955, which had that ugly front grille that kinda disfigured the original lines of the 1953 Raymond Lowy design. I'm currently reading the book, which I found @ the library I'm working in, on your say-so, & I'm liking it