Roxy Music : Debut Album Review – Box Set and Memories

Video Review and memories
Roxy Music : Roxy Music 1972

Featured in the video

  • Bryan Ferry : The In Crowd / Chance Meeting : 1974
  • Bryan Ferry : Let’s Stick Together : 1976
  • Roxy Music : Virginia Plain / / Pyjamarama : 1977
  • Roxy Music : Remaster 1999
  • Roxy Music : Vinyl : Island Records: 1972
  • Roxy Music : From Complete Studio Albums Box Set : 2014
  • Roxy Music : 2CD Deluxe Edition: 2018
  • Roxy Music : Super Deluxe Edition: 3CD / DVD Box Set : 2018

Rather than just do a review, although I will show you different kind of releases featuring this album, I wanted to talk about my personal kind of journey and how I kind of ended up with so many copies and how I discovered it in the first place.

The album came out in 1972 and I did not buy it then. My mind was too entrenched in Slade, T-Rex, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and all the rest of them. The early ’70s was a fantastic time for innovative music and Roxy Music I kind of filed away under pop but as I got older and went back through the back catalog I realised just how advanced and original they were.

The first exposure I had to any track from the album, by of course Virginia Plain the single, was Chance Meeting, which is the B-side of The In Crowd by Bryan Ferry. I loved that track Chance Meeting.

When I did eventually realise it was on the first Roxy Music album it was a bit of a surprise to realise it was a different cut. I actually thought that I had seen it on this single, this must be the same version. Of course, it wasn’t. Chance Meeting from the Bryan Ferry one is actually from this album, which he did where he also recorded some of the older Roxy tracks as well called Let’s Stick Together.

The first time I actually owned anything from this album was when this came out in actually 1977, which was Virginia Plain when it was coupled with Pyjamarama in 1977. 1977 was when punk exploded and a lot of singles started to have picture sleeves. Before then you didn’t really see a picture sleeve. I know in European countries and elsewhere in the world, especially Japan, picture sleeves were very, very common but in the UK they weren’t.

In ‘1977, I was 18 and I would go on the Friday afternoon after I got paid I would go to the local record shop and look for anything that came with a picture sleeve and this was one of them.

Record companies back in those days would remix tracks for whatever reason, maybe for a Greatest Hits or a Best Of that’s coming out, and they remixed Pyjamarama but never announced they were. Now of course it’s something being remixed or slightly different version is what they stick on the front cover of a CD to make you buy it yet again but then they didn’t do that. The version of Pyjamarama actually on this is very different from the original single. Anyway, I’m digressing.

That was my kind of first kind of thing I owned from the first Roxy album itself. Now we have to go forward many years to the ‘1990s actually when I found this for a massive £4.99 on something called HDCD then, which I’m not quite sure what the definition of that was. It’s giving you the idea it was like super duper CD.

The artwork on this is a little bit bleached but it did come with the lyrics and the inner sleeve was also reproduced. Not a bad thing. To be honest, they have not tweaked it, remastered it, since the one they did here, which is I think 1999 on the Virgin label.

My next kind of journey to find it was when this box set came out, which was the complete studio recordings of Roxy Music. A wonderful glossy box. In here they reproduced it in like a mini LP sleeve with the same thing and very nicely color-coordinated inner sleeve as well.

This is when I started to really … Obviously buying that box set I was really getting into Roxy Music by this stage.
Then minding my own business, as you do walking around Penzance in Cornwall where I live, I went into a secondhand furniture shop that also sells records every so often, and found the original vinyl album for a whopping six pounds. It’s in absolutely mint condition, that’s the gatefold sleeve and this is the one that was released on vinyl with a pink rim for any train spotters amongst us.

The thing I’d like to say while I’m putting this back is that Virginia Plain was the single but it wasn’t actually on the album. All the CD versions that came out afterwards put Virginia Plain as track number four but when the album came out it wasn’t included at all. If you’ve recently bought the CD or this is how you got to know Roxy Music that’d be quite a surprise.

Then next that came up was the news that there was going to be a super deluxe edition, a massive box set, coming out at a whopping £130. The incentive for a lot of people to even think about this was the fact that Steven Wilson, who is an absolute genius at 5.1 mixes, had done and completed a 5.1 mix of the first Roxy album.

The £130 price tag I suppose is typical of what you’d expect Roxy Music to do with Bryan Ferry’s kind of attention to detail. There’s a book that came out called Remake Remodel a few years ago, which basically this huge book is just dedicated to the first album. What it does is talk about how in the ‘1960s everything was coming together with new thinking and new ideas. This book reaches its kind of climax, if you like, with the release of the first Roxy Music album. It gives you a real background into how detailed Bryan Ferry was with wanting everything to be exactly right.

The box set being £130 maybe makes sense because he’s not going to use the cheapest paper on earth knowing what he wants to do. However, I just could not justify buying that so I went for the little version. They brought out a two disc version, which again gives you good insight to the background to the album. Nothing like that hardback book I’ve just shown you. Nevertheless, some good stuff. Basically what you’d really be buying this for is the BBC sessions and the live tracks as well.

However, all of a sudden the box set dropped in price from £130 to just over £50 and so I could not resist.

This basically gives you all the demos and outtakes, which you don’t get with the two CD version, and also the DVD, which comes with lots of live tracks from Top of the Pops and also a few more videos but mainly this is for the 5.1 mix. If you’re not into 5.1 mixes then there isn’t going to be much reason for you to go for this but if you are and you like what Steve Wilson does to music then this is well worth it.

The hardback book is a very, very substantial. I know that not everybody is going to want to purchase it so I’m just going to flip through some of the pages so you can actually see the kind of quality and what’s in it. It’s basically huge.

It gives you background to the demo tracks, which feature different guitarists and the original guitarist was quite a bluesy, rock player so it’s very different to hear those. The quality of the paper stock is excellent, as you’d expect from an arty group like Roxy.

There’s no vinyl in this box set but you’ve got all the lyrics, lots of handwritten notes. Obviously lots of outtakes from the cover. Lots of stories and some absolutely brilliant stuff.

I think what I like the most is these kind of biographies of the band because they were only between 20, 21 and 27. There’s some great cuttings as well, lots of these shots are from the tour they did in ‘1972.

These kind of press cuttings, which I absolutely love show where they were playing on the October 19th, 1972 supported by Babe Ruth, and Camel etc who are still playing live now. Lots of stuff from Sounds and Melody Maker. There’s some stills from the videos as well. All the discs are housed in the back of the book. You’ve got the original album, outtakes, the BBC sessions, and the DVD.

The actual DVD itself features, as I said, the live shots and videos from Top of the Pops and also the 5.1 mix by Steve Wilson, which is absolutely fantastic.
I don’t know whether they’re going to carry on doing this through the series. I know Steven Wilson has already done For Your Pleasure but they must be rethinking how they get the price point for this because it is a single album and the original cost was very, very high.

If you’re into 5.1 mixes the actual DVD and the Steve Wilson effect on this music is absolutely brilliant. He’s really realised just how far ahead the band were at the time in making music like this.
If not, what would I recommend? Then the two disc version can be picked up fairly easily. It is very good. It is, though, just a rehash of the 1999 remaster.

Phil Aston

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