Alive and kicking! Bryan Ferry, London Palladium, 22nd April 2016

Somewhat slightly dazed – as David B. would say – by the sad news of Prince Roger Nelson’s passing the previous day, I was still pretty much excited to attend and see again Bryan Ferry on stage. Firstly because he is always excellent on stage but main also for the reason there will not be so many opportunities to hear live all those amazing Roxy Music tracks performed and sung by the original voice.


That was also my first time at the London Palladium, situated in the very central part of London (literally 100 yards from the Oxford Circus underground exit) and one of the more famous West End theatres). Your blog host has been now in this great city for a few months and cannot be nothing but astonished by the number of places to see gigs.

Last time I tried to watch the man from Newcastle was last year at the Royal Albert Hall but the concert had been cancelled at the last minute due to a medical issue so I was hoping to get a less frustrating night. Mission accomplished I must say as apart from the Roxy Music reunion at Rock en Seine festival in 2010, I think I had never seen such a great Bryan Ferry gig.


Surrounded on stage by eight superb musicians with a special mention to Jorja Chalmers on saxophones and keyboards, he played and sang a perfect setlist, mixing tracks from both Roxy Music periods, his solo career and the fantastic covers he has been known for as well.

I know this is probably an obsession on my side as I have been writing it many times on this blog but the music and songs Roxy Music did from 1971 to 1975 really do not sound like nothing else on earth with their mix of melodies, powerful instrumental performance and a sort of weirdness never heard before or after.

So if not clear yet… Viva Roxy and Ferry!


Bryan Ferry – Paris, la Villette – 3th September 2013

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (14)

I know… Roxy MusicBryan Ferry… always blogging about my musical obsessions as if you did not get it yet… I swear I did not want to do any review on Bryan Ferry’s last show ! He was opening the excellent current “Jazz à la Villette” festival and I was even relieved to hear strict announcements from the logistics staff not to take any picture of any sort, thinking I would enjoy the show in the old-fashioned way, without any need to tell the world if it was great, ok or bad.

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (4)

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (16)

The thing is that there was such an atmosphere throughout the show and the theatre that a huge part of the crowd left their seats, went on dancing in front of the stage, taking pictures and all so I could not resist!

The show started weirdly with ten old (or even very old) jazz musicians revisiting Roxy Music classics, as described by the leader of the band. Interesting way of hearing with fresh ears amazing songs such as “Do the Strand” or “The Bogus Man” played in a 20’s jazz style by the Betty Boop Orch…no sorry, they were called the Bryan Ferry Orchestra. I am not saying I did not enjoy it as the songs were really arranged with taste and subtlety but it started to get thin after 20 minutes, which was exactly the moment Bryan Ferry got on stage with two great chorus singers for a splendid version of “Love is the Drug”. But for me, the show really got full ignition when arrived two fantastic musicians on stage : Cherisse Osei on drums and moreover Olivier Thompson on guitar (the guy is 25-year old but has been playing with Bryan Ferry since 2006!). I have read afterwards a few reviews criticising their arrival on stage but for me they allowed the show to keep on going forward. Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (11)

The great man himself was as elegant as ever and nobody in the audience really felt watching a 67-year old man on stage such his voice and his skills are as good as ever. The setlist was fantastic with many songs from his solo career, a lot of covers (Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Sam & Dave) but the real star songs of the show were as very often the Roxy Music ones. The set ended with a beautiful performance of “Editions of You” from the 1973 LP “For Your Pleasure“. A great evening !

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (21)

TOP 100 Artists/Bands of all Times : 2-5

5. The Beach Boys

from : Hawthorne,California, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : teenage symphonies / essential albums : Pet Sounds (1966) , Smiley Smile (1967), Wild Honey (1967), Surf’s Up (1971), Holland (1973), The Smile Sessions (2011) / Click to read more in the blog

My Top 5 should not be much surprise for those who know my musical tastes, starting with the Beach Boys and their genius leader Brian Wilson. I would not talk about the fact that their music has to be discovered beyond the nice pop-surf songs as this is now a known and agreed fact. “Pet Sounds” in particular has often been recognized as one of the best albums ever made and it is true that its richness and subtlety is not something you get blasé about. Even though Brian Wilson burnt his brain when doing “Smile” and never really got over it, there has been amazing songs throughout their career. The way Carl, Brian, Dennis, Mike and Al mixed their voices one with another has been for me one of the mysteries of life and I must say I always feel the same emotion when I hear such perfection.

4. Stevie Wonder

a7406fea0c9ca358b703515589ab82c1 from : Saginaw, MI, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : music of his mind / essential albums : Music of my Mind (1972), Talking Book (1972), Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974), Songs in the Key of Life (1976) / Click to read more in the blog

Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions is my favourite album ever so it might sound weird to find its creator “only” at rank number 4… I guess I wrote everything I wanted to share regarding the early 70’s for Stevie and his tremendous range of five fantastic albums in a row (please click on link above). The sounds, the melodies, the creativity, the voice, the themes,….everything good in life can be found in these albums. The man is still on top on stage as was for instance his amazing performance at Austin City Limits Festival in 2011.

3. Roxy Music

 from : London, England / first great sounds : 70’s / style : glamour rock / essential albums : Roxy Music (1972), For Your Pleasure (1973), Stranded (1973), Country Life (1974), Siren (1975) / Click to read more in the blog

Another weird ranking as Roxy Music is for sure my favourite band but I guess the artists ranked #2 are more than a band. I think I wrote as well the essence of what this band represents for me in a former post (please click above). I would only insist once again that their first 5 LP’s are absolutely indispensable and not only for the covers ! As in all strong artistic adventures, this band lived so many things in such a short time that this sounds almost unbelievable today. And with Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera and Andy McKay, you have four musicians who literally changed the way music is now.

2. The Beatles

154 from : Liverpool, England / first great sounds : 60’s / style : genius / essential albums : A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), Magical Mystery Tour (1967), The White Album (1968), Abbey Road (1969) / Click to read more in the blog

Another weird ranking as you generally either do not really like this band or you breathe through their music, consider them as Gods and put them number 1 in front of any other bands. Well, I must admit I had lots of second thoughts between the first 3 of my TOP 100. However, the Beatles are crucial for many music lovers as I was amongst the people who grew up having their records as first lovers. I remember very well saving money and buying their LP’s one by one and discovering every time an amazing universe. I have probably read around 15 books about this band and always discover new facts. What is the most amazing is what they lived in such a short period of time : music innovation, movies, travels, studio time, changes in their personal lives, etc… These guys lived forty years in ten. I hope their songs will be sung forever.

Best of 2012 : Top 20 !

This is already festive season time and our worldwide-famous best of 20 of the year. No smart words to write down this year as an introduction except that no excuse not to be interested in music in 2012 as choice and diversity are here more than ever.


 Channel Orange

Album of the Year – Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE”. Frank Ocean had been around for a few years either in the collective Odd Future or  as being one of the guests of last year shared album between Kanye West and Jay Z…but really nothing was preparing us for such a beauty. A tremendous record which one can really identify as being part of the 2012 culture and themes but bearing at the same time a sense of history. The music is a mix of soul, hip-hop, R’n’B, pop, rock with a beautiful voice reminding the greats such as Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder. I particularly liked as well as the interludes within the LP that make you feel this is more than one simple record. Album of the year

Animal Joy

My number 2 – ShearwaterAnimal Joy”. Once more and as in previous years, an excellent record from Shearwater, the Austin, TX based band. I had the pleasure in seeing them live twice in Paris this year (first one in La Maroquinerie with a great talk with their singer Jonathan Meiburg and the second one in La Boule Noire this time having a talk with the great rock critic Michka Assayas). I take the risk of repeating myself but this band is really amongst the best we have either for the intensity of the music or the class of the songs and I do not understand why they are not more famous. If you never heard a Shearwater record before, start with this one.


My number 3 – Paul Buchanan “Mid Air”. 2012 has been a kind of old-guys-being-back list and Paul Buchanan is the first example. This is the first solo LP of the singer of The Blue Nile and this is an album not to share but to listen to on your own very late at night. Based almost only on piano and voice, this record seems so fragile and strong simultaneously, bringing a sense of sadness and serenity complicated to explain with words.

One Day I'm Going to Soar

My number 4 – DexysOne Day I’m Going To Soar”. Talking about come back, this one was probably the most incredible and unexpected one of all times. This blog has been a huge fan of Dexys Midnight Runners (their 1985 LP “Don’t Stand Me Down” being a masterpiece as far as I am concerned). The issue is that band leader Kevin Rowland had lost himself in a perfectionism will and that apart from two weird solo LP’s, the name Dexys had been buried for 27 years…. Built with the help of former Style Council man Billy Talbot, this is as if Dexys had never left the music scene, with this fantastic white soul style. A very moving return.


My number 5 – Benjamin Biolay “Vengeance”. Vive la France ! Hyperactive Benjamin Biolay has returned again with a great LP, mixing very different styles and guests (including Carl Barat from the Libertines and French rapper Oxmo Puccino). Fewer ballads than usual but always that emotion one can feel I guess even if they do not understand the lyrics. Looking forward to seeing him on stage in 2013.

Other great records of my top 20 (by alphabetical order)

 Alabama Shakes “Boys & Girls”. Debut album from the Athens, Alabama, soul and southern rock oriented band. This record could have been out forty years ago but is really fresh as well. Click on les Inrocks Festival review to get a better flavour of the band.

  Fiona Apple “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do ” Tiny American chanteuse back with her leaner album in terms of instrumentation, with songs that directly go under your skin.

  Cloud Nothings “Attack On Memory”. Nothing revolutionary in leader Dylan Baldi’s music but such a pleasure to hear a pure guitar-band, influenced by Nirvana and by German repetitive rock at the same time. Pitchfork Festival review available when clicking.

 Hot Chip “In Our Heads”. London dance band Hot Chip’s 2012 LP might be their best. If you like your classic New Order dance period and beautiful nostalgic melodies…

  Howlin Rain “The Russian Wilds”. Every year, a psychedelic rock record gives me shivers down the spine. Last year was Jonathan Wilson, this year this is Ethan Miller’s band new LP.

  JapandroidsCelebration Rock”. Two crazy motherf*****s from Canada on guitar and drums making noise as if they were ten on stage (as seen at the Paris Pitchfork Festival) but with a “je ne sais quoi” of nostalgia that makes them one of the current bands to get interested in.

  Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city”. This, the official debut from young L.A., California, M.C. Kendrick Lamar is my favourite traditional hip-hop record in a very good year for the genre. Produced partly by Dr. Dre, this narrates the story of an 25-year old guy hanging out in Compton and has the best beats and samplings (hello Beach House) I have heard in a long time.

  Bob Mould “Silver Age”. Good old Bob… In a year when the three Sugar albums have been reissued and when he played “Copper Blue” on stage, Bob Mould took the time to give us this new LP, finding back the muscular guitar oriented sound of these first Sugar records. An important and appealing personality, Bob Mould is more relevant than ever.

  SpiritualizedSweet Heart, Sweet Light”. Talking about classic bands, here is another one. And this is probably one of the best records in Jason Pierce’s long career started in the 80′ with the Spacemen 3. If you like your gospel melodies with repetitive mantra, this record is for you (click for Festival les Inrocks review)

 Tame Impala “Lonerism”. Kevin Parker, leader of this Australian band, is simultaneously a complicated young man and a huge music lover, both qualities that created a monster of a modern psychedelic record. This is probably the album in our list that requires the most listening as their music is very rich and hides many beauties.

  The Walkmen “Heaven”. Like for instance Spoon, The National or Shearwater, The Walkmen are part of these great American middle-aged bands whose punch and melodies know-how is to cherish. What is difficult with these bands is distinguish an album from another as they are all excellent. I found a very moving maturity in “Heaven” and the songs were perfect for live shows.

 Paul Weller “Sonik Kicks”. Our all-time favourite non-smiling British citizen, Paul Weller has once again delivered the goods mixing his beautiful melodies with a rejuvenated interested in repetitive Krautrock. This guy should really be a model for all young musicians as his never-ending enthusiasm is something to cherish (as seen on stage).

  Jack White “Blunderbuss”. This is probably the most beautiful cover of all year (hello blue, goodbye red) but this is not the reason why Jack White is here. Amazing first solo record, mixing soul, retro rock, ballads and even…hip-hop influences. We do love values of hard work in this blog and this is not a coincidence to find musicians such as Jack White (and Paul Weller and Benjamin Biolay…) in our end of the year list. Tremendous shows as well all year-long for Jack White!

  Yeti Lane “The Echo Show”.  This is the second LP of this French band and one of the most enjoyable LP’s of the year. I must say this is the ideal target for our blog as we like melodic repetitive music here! I had the pleasure in seeing them live as well at the Rock en Seine festival and they are very good on stage.

 Neil Young with Crazy Horse “Psychedelic Pill”. Last but not least, 2012 was also the year of our beloved Canadian with no less than two records done with the beautiful Crazy Horse and one biography (“Waging Heavy Piece”). Fantastic long songs with lots of feedback ; keep on rocking in the free world, Neil!

Other top 5’s (Frank Ocean and Tame Impala everywhere!) :

  • New Musical Express (UK weekly mag.): 1. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 2. Grimes “Visions3. Frank Ocean ”channel ORANGE 4. Crystal Castles “(iii)” 5. Alt-J “An Awesome Wave
  • Uncut (UK monthly mag.): 1. Leonard Cohen “Old Ideas” 2. Bob Dylan “Tempest” 3. Jack White “Blunderbuss” 4. Dr John “Locked Down” 5. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE”
  • Mojo (UK monthly mag.): 1. Jack White “Blunderbuss2. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE 3. Bill Fay “Life Is People” 4. Leonard Cohen “Old Ideas” 5. Dexys “One Day I’m Going To Soar”
  • Paste (US web mag.): 1. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE” 2. Father John Misty “Fear Fun” 3. Titus Andronicus “Local Business” 4. Fiona Apple “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do ” 5. Sharon Van Etten “Tramp”
  • Pitchfork  (US website): 1. Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city2. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE3. Fiona Apple “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do ” 4. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 5. Swans “The Seer”
  • Les Inrockuptibles (French weekly mag.): 1. Alt-J “An Awesome Wave” 2. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 3. Liars “WIXIW” 4. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE” 5. Django Django “Django Django” Their “best of 2012 Hors-Série” is as usual recommended as still excellent and coming with a CD of their prefered tracks of the year.
  • Magic rpm (French monthly mag.): 1. Chromatics “Kill For Love” 2. Chris Cohen “Overgrown Path” 3. Kindness “World, You Need A Change Of Mind” 4. Grizzly Bear “Shields” 5. Dominique A “Vers Les Lueurs”
  • New Noise (French bimester mag.): 1. Electric Electric “Discipline” 2. Dinosaur Jr. “I Bet On Sky” 3. OM “Advaitic Songs” 4. Mark Lanegan Band “Blues Funeral” 5. Cloud Nothings “Attack On Memory
  • Sound Opinions (US music podcast)   Greg Kot’s 1. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE” 2. Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” 3. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 4. Killer Mike “R.A.P. Music” 5. Kelly Hogan “I Like To Keep Myself in Pain”     Jim DeRogatis’ 1. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 2. Kelly Hogan “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain” 3. Frank Ocean “Channel ORANGE” 4. Melody’s Echo Chamber “Melody’s Echo Chamber” 5. Spiritualized “Sweet Heart, Sweet Light”
  • Fargo (Paris records store): Top 2012 records in no particular order (4 records in common)
  • Ground Zero (Paris records store): Top 10 – not available yet.
  • Other Music (NY records store): 1. Andy Stott “Luxury Problems” 2. Frkwys Vol. 9 Sun Arraw & M. Geddes Gengras Meets The Congos “Icon Give Thank” 3. Actress “R.I.P.” 4. Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” 5. Daughn GibsonAll Hell”

Box Sets and Reissues

Many fantastic reissues this year (The Blue Nile, Sugar, Everything But The Girl, The Beat, Can, etc…) but if I had to choose three of them, no hesitation :

Blur “21”  Yes, you read well, 21 records (well, actually 18 CD’s and 3 DVD’s…) summarizing Blur’s career. They went back on tour as well and found time to play together between Damon Albarn’s numerous side-projects and Graham Coxon’s solo records and probably published the Single of the Year for me (“Under the Westway“). Beautiful box in which to dig every other day.

The Beatles “Vinyl Box Set”  Expensive indeed but having the complete works of this quite famous band remastered in a nice box with a beautiful book might be priceless. (re)discover if need be…

Roxy Music “The Complete Studio Recordings” Jump on it ; very cheap and indispensable CD Box Set if you want your place to look like home. Best band ever?

DVD’s and Blue Rays

Experiencing Blue Ray for movies is like doing the same when you have your first automatic gear-box for cars ; very difficult to give up when you have such a degree of quality definition in pictures and sounds. I therefore warmly recommend the two following extraordinary movies in this format :

LCD Soundsystem ” Shut Up And Play The Hits” 3-Disc set with on one side the full last ever show shot in 2011 at the Madison Square Garden with guest such as Arcade Fire and on the other side the melancholic documentary about leader James Murphy future life. Basically, what will be your life when you split a music band at the height of their powers?

Led Zeppelin “Celebration Day” This is the famous 2007 one-shot concert with Jason Bonham (John’s son) on drums. 20 million people (including me) had applied on the internet to see that show and one can see why here : one of the best songs ever written played by these great men.

That’s it for 2012. Please surf on the blog as there is plenty to watch and read and see you in 2013 for the follow-up of our Top 100 bands/artists of all times!

Everyone should own Roxy Music first five records / Roxy Music Rock en Seine Festival, August 2010, Saint Cloud / Bryan Ferry, 13th June 2011, Olympia, Paris.

Ladies and Gents, I envy you. Why? Because you either do not know at all Roxy Music or have a vague idea of tracks such as “More Than This” or “Dance Away” and will now enter a new music world! Early Roxy Music is to rock music what “Lost” or “Twin Peaks” are to series, that is to say a source of constant and never-ending joy.

It all began in the late 60’s/early 70’s where a young art student/music fan formed a band with the ambition of doing something traditional and new at the same time. There have been many different musicians in the band (what about the bass players that made them go away regularly?) but the legendary core members are : Andy Mackay (saxophone), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Paul Thompson (drums), Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, more commonly known as Brian Eno (keyboards) and of course Bryan Ferry as singer and leader.

The history of Roxy Music is quite simple to decipher: five A-MA-ZING records from 1972 to 1975, a three-year break that most fans thought as definite at the time and then three polished but nice to hear adult dance rock records from 1979 to 1982, a definite split in 1983 and a few reunion shows since the start of the 21st century.

Cover (Roxy Music:Roxy Music) Cover (For Your Pleasure:Roxy Music) Cover (Stranded:Roxy Music) Cover (Country Life:Roxy Music) Cover (Siren:Roxy Music) 

What makes these five 1972-1975 records so great?

  • The songs: Re-Make/Re-Model, Ladytron, Sea Breezes from “Roxy Music” (1972), Do The Strand, In Every Dream Home A Heartache, The Bogus Man from “For Your Pleasure” (1973), Just Like You, A Song For Europe, Mother of Pearl from “Stranded” (1973), The Thrill Of It All, All I Want Is You, Out Of The Blue from “Country Life” (1974) and Love Is The Drug, Both Ends Burning, Just Another High from “Siren” (1975). But believe me, it could be all of them as every song is a killer. 10/10 for the first three LP’s and 9.5/10 for the next two ones.
  • The musicians: with Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, Andy Mackay is for me the only other saxophone player able to integrate the instrument as a real component of a rock band like for instance guitar and the drums and not like an awful Adult Oriented Rock kind of thing. Phil Manzanera is a very inventive guitar player too but the real strength of the band has been the creation and tension between Bryan Ferry on voice and lyrics and Brian Eno on noise and keyboards. Brian Eno has always said that people put too much importance about his period in Roxy Music, that he only stayed for a couple of years (the first two LP’s) and that this was Bryan Ferry’s band overall. Probably but he brought to them and to the world of music in his subsequent role as producer a weirdness with sounds that was really new at the time (and still is…). And what a leader Bryan Ferry was: fantastic lyrics and such a voice, quite different from the crooner’s voice  described later by lazy critics.
  • The clothes, the looks, the glamorous side of the covers! I bought back in vinyls all LP’s to get these great ladies covers (Amanda Lear, Jerry Hall,…). For more about all these clothes, covers stories and the intense Roxy Music story, I strongly recommend the “More than this” DVD.

As all things eventually come for those who wait, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Roxy Music last year in Rock en Seine festival near Paris. Even though I had read good reviews of previous shows, I was of course a bit scary to see how they would play all these great songs live (and would they play them and not concentrate on the more famous late period for the French audience?). I must say that even with a few more wrinkles, Ferry/Manzanera/Mackay were on top form and on stage with younger musicians, therefore giving a great energy to the show.

Bryan Ferry did a very good solo album last year as well with many former Roxy Music partners, “Olympia” (8/10) and played the Olympia in Paris tonight amongst nine other musicians (including his son as one of the two drummers). Excellent show, with a good balance between “Olympia” tracks (You can dance, Alphaville), his elegant and classy late-night music (Slave to love, Boys and Girls, Don’t Stop the Dance), great covers (Like a Hurricane, I put a spell on you, What goes on) and rewarding us with a few Roxy Music songs (If there is a something, Love is the Drug). Here are a few pictures of both shows:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.