Roxy Music as Music

Rock history is filled with stodgy myths and canonical understandings, which often choke debate and dissent when rock history comes to be told and re-told. Amongst those myths and canonical understandings, the one that concerns the importance of fashion and image to glam rock, and to Roxy Music more specifically, has become a shibbeloth. It is not unture, nor is it irrelevant to an understanding of that group’s importance, but it is simply not the whole story. Simon Reynolds offers an interesting corrective to canonical rock history here:

John Lennon once quipped that glam was just rock’n’roll with lipstick. Glam historians tend to emphasise the lipstick at the expense of the rock’n’roll; they focus overly on the gender-bending rather than the genre-bending. In Roxy’s case, the attention paid to the group’s fashion world connections, pop art allegiances and other extra-musical credentials threatens to overshadow their achievements as a rock band. In truth, Eno’s feather boas, Bryan Ferry’s gaucho look of 1974… they haven’t aged that well. It’s hard to believe that wearing a white dinner jacket was ever a big deal. Even the celebrated covers of the first five albums, with their lingerie-clad models, look cheesy and chauvinist these days (apart from the still-edgy sleeve of For Your Pleasure, a perversely stylised shot of Amanda Lear walking a panther). The music, though, remains timeless in its weirdness and wildness.

Published on 3 September 2012

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