Losing The Lyrics, Keeping The (Roxy) Music
Just like they always said, the child is father to the man. Bryan Ferry remembers listening to Louis Armstrong in the family living room way back when he was nine years old in a mining town in the North of England. Now, after a four-decade career that helped stretch rock music into elegantly radical new shapes, Ferry has returned to the sound of Satchmo for his new album The Jazz Age. Under the rubric of The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, the singer revisits a lucky 13 of his own golden oldies from both Roxy Music and his solo releases without—shock!—one solitary lick of his inimitable vocalizing.
At the launch party hosted by The Vinyl Factory and Johnnie Walker Blue at Annabel’s the other night, Ferry insisted it was all about spotlighting, once and for all, the melodies he’s written over the years. Ardent fans might blanch at the prospect. How, for example, can you possibly divorce a song such as “Just Like You” from a lyric which is as worthy of adoration as the finest love poem ever penned by John Donne? Maybe that’s why, during dinner, Ferry weakened and sang a couple of numbers with his orchestra. But otherwise, listeners were treated to ragtime-, big-band-, or twenties-tango-inflected versions of classics like “Do the Strand,” “Virginia Plain,” and “Slave to Love.” (Click below for the party video, debuting exclusively here on Style.com.)
Too bad Baz Luhrmann has apparently gone all Kanye and Gaga for his Gatsby soundtrack, because Ferry’s revisionist approach to his old material sounded like an ideal aural backdrop for the world that F. Scott Fitzgerald created. Maybe too literal for Baz, but Ferry’s original self-invention was quite the match of Jay Gatsby’s, and the guest list at Annabel’s reflected his usual wide-ranging retinue of artists, aristos, fashionettes, pretty young things, and money old and new. The Roxy Woman defined glamour for a few generations. Bryan’s wife, Amanda, gloriously embodied the tradition (and the evening’s theme) in her Gucci flapper dress. But as far as Ferry’s legendary sartorialism went, filmmaker Baillie Walsh was giving him a run for his money. Tom Ford made dozens of suits for 007, Daniel Craig is one of Walsh’s best friends, they’re the same size…now, who in their right manly mind wouldn’t play swapsies with James Bond?