Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Love Is the Drug" (1976)

99. Roxy Music, "Love Is the Drug" (Feb. 26, 1976, #30)

In the halcyon era of Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Bryan Ferry and his fellow travelers get their gigolo on and troll downtown the red light place. It's not entirely believable but the oozy seductiveness remains persuasive enough, for reasons good and bad, and how they managed to pilfer this onto the U.S. charts has to be taken strictly as a matter of historical context. Or, "It's the '70s, Jake." Which doesn't change the fact that it endures to this day for us to marvel at, enjoy, thrill to in its snaky, skanky glory, all enunciated quite clearly. "Late that night I park my car / Stake my place in the singles bar / Face to face, toe to toe / Heart to heart as we hit the floor / Lumber up, limbo down / The locked embrace, the stumble round / I say go, she say yes / Dim the lights, you can guess the rest." Now wait a cotton picking minute, that's sexual addiction you're talking about, isn't it? Well, if it's convincing enough Roxy Music—co-writer Andy Mackay squawks away on his sax, Paul Thompson hits those drums hard, and Ferry of course is unmistakable, in tone and sensibility—it's still so blatant and obvious about itself that it's hard not take as calculated. But who, even in the '70s, would ever imagine that a sleazy workout about pickup sex had broadcast commercial potential? We know the answer to that now. This may not be the best thing Roxy Music ever did by a far sight, but it's the only one that managed to distinguish itself as a U.S. hit. That alone makes it something special, even now. Especially now.

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