For Your Pleasure
Warner Bros. 2696
Released: July 1973
Chart Peak: #193
Weeks Charted: 2
Stop doing the stroll, mouse, limbo, eighty-one and peppermint twist. Give the Strand four minutes of your time and you won't think of doing another dance for at least two weeks.
In an album that is remarkably inaccessible, "Do The Strand" strikes with immediate impact. This lead-off number, written by lead singer Bryan Ferry, is the cleverest use of language and rhyme since "I Am the Walrus." "Tired of the tango? Fed up with fandango?... Bored of the beguine? The sambo wasn't your scene?... Wary of the waltz? And mashed potato schmaltz?" By the time the band has taken off on its mid-flight solo, the listener desperately wants to do the Strand, whatever it is. Turns out it isn't anything, which enhances the magic of what is a total performance. Andrew Mackay's wailing saxophone punctuates Ferry's questions, the rest of the band produces a high-powered backing track, and Ferry sounds perfectly nasty when he says, "We like the Strand."
You'll like it, too, and you can be excused for putting the needle back at the beginning, especially if you hear what comes afterwards. Sadly, the British Top Ten hit "Pyjamarama" is not included, and the seven tracks that are here are hard to bite into. There are some worthwhile moments, to be sure. Changing rhythms, Eno's use of synthesizer and tapes, instrumental passages, Ferry's odd vocal styling and the group's sudden endings are all worth hearing, but mainly because they are interesting, not entertaining. The only true highlights are the eerie "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" and the "boys will be boys will be boyoyoyoys" line and Mackay's solo on "Editions Of You."
Side two drones on with a nine-minute instrumental that sounds like a rip-off of the Doors' "Alabama Song." The title tune ends the album, but is it a tune? It sounds like dogs barking repetitively for minutes on end. Maybe it is Eno's genius at work, but if so you've gotta be Mensa level to understand him or be so stoned you still think the drum solo on "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" is a tour de force.
A great deal of the group's appeal is visual, and even staring at the interior gatefold won't communicate that excitement. If "Do The Strand," "Pyjamarama" and "Virginia Plain" were all on a maxi-single it would be one of the buys of the year. But the bulk of For Your Pleasure is either above us, beneath us, or on another plane altogether. You can find out where they register on your individual scale. As for me, I shall continue doing the Strand.
- Paul Gambaccini, Rolling Stone, 7/5/73.
Roxy Music has improved as a band since its last album, but I still find the whole thing to be a put-on, like an Andy Warhol silk-screen of a Brillo Box. The lead singer is deliberately mannered, and the songs and production are of a type that would impress group-therapy alpha-nuts on a rainy Sunday.
There is something nastily exploitative about this band, something contemptuous and hostile. I suppose it is an example of what is called "glitter-rock," which started out to mean a performer or band deliberately trying to recall or satirize the vaudevillian qualities of Fifties rock, but which soon came to mean the portrayal of amorality or sexual deviation. There are those who admire what they see as "communication" between performers -- who flaunt their warped views through "theatrical" stage shows -- and the audience, which is supposed to be getting a "realistic" look at life that allows them to live with their own sexual shakiness.
To say that Roxy Music or Alice Cooper is performing a public service is to say that movie producers who grind out Black exploitation films with pushers and pimps as heroes are contributing to black pride and racial harmony. They're both in it for the money. But this is something to be realized with a bit of maturity and common sense -- something that the audience Roxy Music is playing to is not likely to possess. It therefore becomes a simple case of child abuse.
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 10/73.
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
The second Roxy Music album was an artistic and commercial step forward for the group. A top five hit in Britain, it marked the band's US chart debut, however modest.
No singles were released from this collection, but "Do the Strand" emerged as one of the group's best-loved pieces. The name of the fictitious dance was inspired jointly by the thoroughfare of the same name in London and the British cigarette advertised in the fifties by the famous slogan, recited by David Bowie in Absolute Beginners, "You're never alone with a Strand." Bryan Ferry considered "Do the Strand" "one of the best records we ever made." It was half-heartedly released as a single in 1977 to promote a Greatest Hits collection on which it appeared.
For Your Pleasure marked the final appearance of Brian Eno on a Roxy Music album. "It was time for him to move on because what he could do within the group was too concentrated," Ferry explained. "At the beginning of Roxy he'd been sort of mixing the sound and treating the instruments other people were playing through his synthesizer. Then he became more interested in playing himself." In Ferry's eyes, the split "proved to be the right thing for him and for everyone."
In 1987, For Your Pleasure was chosen by a panel of rock critics and music broadcasters as the #61 rock album of all time.
- Paul Gambaccini, The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time, Harmony Books, 1987.
For Your Pleasure, Roxy's schizophrenic second album, vacillates between campy rockers like "Do the Strand" and "Editions of You" (both UK hits) and creepy mood pieces like "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" (an ode to an inflatable sex doll) and the title cut, which showcases lead singer Bryan Ferry's ghoulish croon over an instrumental track that would work well on Twin Peaks. * * *
- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
For Your Pleasure, the second and final Ferry-Eno collaboration, is even weirder than Roxy's self-titled debut album, and nearly as good. * * * *
- Greg Kot, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
This was the second, and last, Roxy album to feature flamboyant co-founder Brian Eno. Although frontman, singer Bryan Ferry shared a sartorial interest with the more outlandish Brian Eno, by the time of For Your Pleasure's release, Ferry had had enough of Eno's fanatically noisy fans. The synthman stuck around to make sure FYP sounded daringly different for the time, though -- if Roxy were a glam rock group then they were undoubtedly the classiest combo of the entire genre. Of course, that they were even considered a glam band was down to Eno's futuristic dress sense; he'd often appear at gigs and on television dressed like an extra from an episode of Buck Rodgers. For a time, Ferry matched Eno's glam dress excesses, but by late 1973 he had moved into a more familiar, lounge lizard gear (a little later he'd don U.S. Army fatigues and a pencil moustache). The musical tensions matched the sartorial. The show-stopping "Do The Strand" has electronic noises fluidly squeezing in and around Ferry's casually forceful verses and Mackay's honking sax -- an audio contrast enhanced by the stunning, drop-dead ending. The hiccupping, rollercoaster "Editions of You," the flickering "Beauty Queen" and the majestic title track were other vocal highpoints. Side one ends with the shocking "In Every Dream Home A Heartache," where Ferry's stumbling voice leads us through an attack on the vacousness at the centre of the Playboy dream. After Eno's exit, Roxy continued to produce fine recordings, but none were ever quite so patently "for our pleasure."
- Collins Gem Classic Albums, 1999.
Following their eponymous debut, this sophomore outing was a true winner: Ferry's singing is miraculously good, Eno's cutting-edge, avant-garde synths are strange and wonderful and the drumming of the great Paul Thompson is, well, great. The art deco of rock, the trailblazing album was radically different than anything else and 10 years ahead of its time -- after hearing it, everyone wanted to "Do the Strand." * * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
Keyboardist Brian Eno's last album with Roxy Music is the pop equivalent of Ultrasuede: highly stylish, abstract-leaning art rock. The collision of Eno's and singer Bryan Ferry's clashing visions gives For Your Pleasure a wild, tense charm -- especially on the driving "Editions of You" and "Do the Strand."
For Your Pleasure was chosen as the 394th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
Bryan Ferry wanted to be beautiful. Brian Eno wanted to be wild. And, for two albums in the early 1970s, Roxy Music managed to be both. However, it was not without cost. Enraged by Ferry's reluctance to record his songs, Eno called it quits after 1973's For Your Pleasure and the band was never the same again.
However, it was exactly that artistic tug-of-war that fueled their great eponymous debut and pushed ...Pleasure to even greater heights. When a compromise between the two giants was reached, such as on the decadently avant-garde pop single "Do The Strand," the results were glorious. By stark contrast, a track like "In Every Dream Home A Heartache," apparently an ode to an inflatable sex doll, was just plain ponderous. Fortunately, ...Pleasure features far more of the former.
"Do The Strand" is one of the most uproarious rock numbers Roxy Music ever recorded. Ferry takes over for the haunting goodbye "Beauty Queen" and showcases his raising falsetto on "Strictly Confidential." Eno's robotic keyboards are the perfect counterpoint to Phil Manzanera's soaring guitar in "Editions Of You."
...Pleasure was another Top Ten hit for Roxy Music in the UK and the follow-up, Stranded, released at the tail end of 1973, became the band's first No. 1 in its homeland, though Americans did not latch on to Roxy Music until Ferry replaced the artsy experimentation with an equally appealing soul-pop sound, perhaps to best effect on 1982's Avalon, the group's lone gold record Stateside.
- Jim Harrington, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
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