Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Roxy Music, "Mother of Pearl" (1973)


This wonderful rambling exercise runs nearly seven minutes, splitting into unrelated parts, with a furious rocking overture that devolves into an atmospheric and wheedling showcase for a Bryan Ferry stream of consciousness. It builds to a glorious climax before finally ending on a whimper. The slow-burn churn remains one of the great Roxy Music moments from their early period, following the departure of Brian Eno—it's a fact that Roxy Music has undergone quite a number of convulsive changes. To show what a good sport he is, Eno has identified Stranded, the home of "Mother of Pearl," as the band's best album. "Mother of Pearl" is about as good as it gets, among other things presenting a nice profile of Bryan Ferry's superficial yet penetrating artsy playboy aesthetic abstracted—brooding, comical, ultra-poised all at once. Ferry is so convincing, in fact, that I have to wonder if he was wearing a dinner jacket in the studio when this was recorded. Now I'm not sure I agree with Eno that Stranded is Roxy's best album (I'm still partial to the severe cabaret that makes up Country Life), but it sure as hell is good and this song is too. Let's peer in a moment at what's on Ferry's mind, as the tumbling weird words make this as much as anything: "Then I step back thinking / Of life's inner meaning / And my latest fling … If you're looking for love / In a looking glass world / It's pretty hard to find … Thus: even Zarathustra / Another-time-loser / Could believe in you / With every goddess a letdown / Every idol a bring down / It gets you down … Take refuge in pleasure / Just give me your future / We'll forget your past." Sounds like love!

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