I saw a BBC 4 documentary about Roxy Music a few months ago, and it was fascinating to see the drift from glam intelligentsia to disco stylists through to smoother-than-silk lounge lizards, and to watch Brian Eno politely distancing himself from everything that came after his pivotal contributions. They were a very different beast by this point – clearly Bryan Ferry’s plaything – and although they’d always led from the front, notionally ahead of prevailing fashions, 1978’s Manifesto album was drenched in disco. Too late? Or an early example of what every other “rock” group was about to do anyway?
No matter whether Roxy were leading or following – ‘Dance Away’ and the more obviously discofied sister single ‘Angel Eyes’ were pure-spun class. I’m not as familiar with the earlier albums as I should be – they’re always on my list for a Fopp splurge – but there’s an effortless freshness to the RM sound that belies its age. ‘Dance Away’ is clearly the work of a craftsman, beautifully arranged, no note wasted etc., and in fabulous couplets like “She’s dressed to kill/And guess who’s dying?” it straddles the pithy/corny line that would become so familiar to Roxy Music in their twilight years.
Their reputation even seems to reach the pre-schoolers, with Junior asserting “I like Loxy Music” when I told her what was going in the tray. I don’t suppose she has much heartache to dance away, but she shook her hips and wrenched her sister’s arms from her sockets as per. “I like it; play it again.”