Bryan Ferry celebrates his seventieth birthday this year, but the man the NME once dubbed Byron Ferrari shows no sign of slowing down. Last year saw his latest solo album Avonmore and he’s still responsible for some of the coolest music of the last forty years, both solo and as frontman of Roxy Music.
While he’s done numerous cover versions throughout his career, the aforementioned Avonmore closed with his cover of Robert Palmer’s ‘Johnny and Mary.’ This also appeared on Todd Terje’s It’s Album Time. And now a stunning video has been revealed for the song. If you think that in the post-MTV era of YouTube etc.. that proper music videos don’t matter any more, feast your eyes on a beautiful video for a fantastic interpretation of a classic song. It stars Ferry and model Eliza Cummings.
Although Lloyd Cole has been called the Orson Welles of popular music (due to his having peaked with his awesome debut, Rattlesnakes, in 1984), that title could just as easily apply to Bryan Ferry. As part of Roxy Music, their first two albums, Roxy Music and For Your Pleasure in 1972 and 1973 still sound phenomenal (I gave the second album another listen last night, and it’s still startling). However, after that – just like Welles after Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons there were moments of brilliance (Roxy’s ‘Love Is The Drug’ a counterpart to Welles’ performance in Carol Reed’s adaptation of The Third Man?) but a feeling of trading on past glories. Heck, the only person who seems to be doing more albums of covers than Ferry is Rod Stewart. When Roxy came back from their four year hiatus at the end of the 1970s, someone really should have pointed out that their covers of ‘Eight Miles High’ and ‘In the Midnight Hour’ really were not necessary. It seemed that the man once christened Byron Ferrari by the NME (ha! see what they did there?) would never quite hit the heights of coolness again.
…Until the last year or so, that is. Last year, German maestro DJ Hell’s album Teufelswerk kicks off with a phenomenal track featuring Ferry on vocals called ‘U Can Dance.’ Not only that, but Groove Armada’s forthcoming sixth album Black Light features Ferry’s vocals on an excellent track called ‘Shameless.’ And you can’t help thinking, could a man who played in a band with Bryan Eno, ferchrissakes, not realised long ago that making music that was uplifting and fresh was preferable to a lifetime of Bob Dylan covers?