Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Album Review: Bryan Ferry – Olympia

This autumn is becoming the return of the elder statesman! For Bryan Ferry, it seems it’s still 1985 as this album could have been recorded then. You Can Dance uses a sample from Roxy Music’s True to Life to reasonably good effect in an 80s, cocktail kind of way.

Unfortunately most of the album continues in the very same way, with little deviation. Vaguely danceable beat? Check. Twanging guitar? Check. Dancing girls cooing. Check.

There are a couple of covers here. Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren is completely sunk here by an MOR arrangement and way too many musicians. Traffic’s No Face, No Name, No Number on the other hand survives the stifling arrangements and showcases Ferry’s world-weary croon to good effect.

Indeed the more stripped down arrangements (relatively speaking) are the best tracks, here, with Reason Or Rhyme and Tender Is The Night allowing Ferry’s vocals to breathe, as opposed to burying them in studio trickery.

It’s a pity Ferry wouldn’t move a little more in this direction. His 1999 album As Time Goes By featured orchestral arrangements, and although it was all covers, the subsequent tour saw him recasting his own material in this vein to great effect. Otherwise I’m not sure how long he can keep going as he is.