“Street Life” by Roxy Music
(Words/Music: Bryan Ferry, Album: Stranded, Island 1973)
Roxy Music’s sophistication and experimentation were essential elements of the glam scene (and the emerging art rock scene), but seeing pictures of the band playing in suits and tuxedos, I never would have listed them among the early influences on punk pioneer Malcolm McLaren. However, learning that his first ambition was to create fashions instead of music, his liking glam bands and any other bands whose music and image challenged the mainstream made more sense.
The strange thing about “Street Life” is that if you put it on and didn’t tell me who it was, I might be tempted to say it was the Velvet Underground. Bryan Ferry’s voice is close enough to Lou Reed’s and the musical mix sounds like some of the more “poppish” VU tunes like “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “I’m Waiting For the Man.” Granted, I am not well-versed in Roxy Music, but since I knew that Ferry and Brian Eno were involved, I figured they would sound more ethereal (because of Eno’s production of U2 and Bob Dylan). However, with Eno now two albums gone by the time Stranded was released, the music sounded much more like early New Wave than I was expecting an album from 1973 to sound like. But still, aside from the lyrics (of this song, at least) and the odd fashion choices (for a rock band), I would not have picked Roxy Music as an early punk influence. Who knew?
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