Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let's Stick Together (1976)

This sounds pretty much like what it is, a grab bag of one-offs and B-sides from Bryan Ferry at an uncertain point in his career. It came right on the heels of the first dissolution of Roxy Music—it even seems to have half a foot still stuck back there, with alternate but not that different versions of "2HB," "Sea Breezes," and "Re-Make/Re-Model," all of whose originals appeared on the first Roxy Music album. There are also artifacts of the first phase of Bryan Ferry's solo career (as the crazy covers guy, personally my favorite of his many phases, followed closely by the Big Ripe Sigh of Avalon): "The Price of Love," an Everly Brothers song, "It's Only Love," a Beatles song, the standard "You Go to My Head." What saves this mess is the title song, which is also the first song and grabs hold tight right off the bat, in which Ferry is on the inspired attack with a scorching hot rhythm and blues band that is really something. I think the version here of "Let's Stick Together" stands up just fine to the Wilbert Harrison original or any of the other covers (by Canned Heat, Bob Dylan, Dwight Yoakam, George Thorogood, Nina Simone, etc., a number of big names). There's also a nice treatment of the Jimmy Reed song "Shame, Shame, Shame," full-on horns, harp, chick singers, whomping bottom, and needling guitar. So the essays in this direction do make the album worth checking out. Ferry would take it to some interesting places in at least one other solo, The Bride Stripped Bare, but I think its best expressions are found here. Still, in its totality the album is not that remarkable. The Roxy Music redos made and still make Ferry look a bit exhausted (if not desperate) on the ideas front. And I like the covers fine—as I say, I think especially These Foolish Things is terrific, on some days I'm even pretty sure it's the best thing he ever did in or out of Roxy Music. But these really sound like dregs and barrel scrapings, especially this second attempt at a Rubber Soul cover, which didn't even go that well the first time ("You Won't See Me," one of the few lowlights from that first solo). I wish I knew that next Bryan Ferry solo a little better, In Your Mind, because I know for sure by The Bride Stripped Bare he had some pretty interesting things going for him. Here it's limited to "Let's Stick Together," which is essential but quite possibly the only thing here that is.

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