SD 36-106 A Country Life
Produced by Roxy Music and John Punter
Released on November 1974
UK CHART POSITION #3 . . . US CHART POSITION #37
Find it at GEMM
SD 36-106 A cover  

I ’m real sorry about this cover photo. The original featured two fetching young ladies in various stages of deshabille, to my tastes the crown jewel in Roxy’s family of femme fatales. Prudish interests prevailed, however, and the ladies soon dematerialized, leaving in their wake the unsatisfactory scenery above. Fortunately, the censors didn’t mess with the music. Song for song, this is as good as Roxy gets. Country Life finds the band at a stylistic crossroads, embracing shorter, lyrical songs while retaining the dark and challenging tone of their earlier work. It’s not so much different than Stranded, which also featured rocket-propelled pop music alongside torch songs that twisted like a slow, sharp knife. Although critics fell in love with Siren’s song, I always found that album too chipper. In my opinion, “All I Want Is You” and “Casanova” get to the heart of what made Roxy Music great, while “Sentimental Fool” and “She Sells” came across as cornball. The album opens with “The Thrill Of It All” -- this would be stripped down and re-cast as “Love Is The Drug” on their next album, and you can decide which is the better track. What follows is a varied sampler of settings: romantic and dreamy art rock (“Out of the Blue”), a fine approximation of Bob Ezrin’s Teutonic dramas (“Bitter-Sweet”), a masterful stare-down from Ferry (“Casanova”) and more. Maybe Siren tried too hard; Country Life burns with a cool fire, the beneficiary of the band’s and John Punter’s even-handed production. Ferry’s stilted vocals, wafting on a swirling cloud of sounds, wouldn’t sound this subdued again until Avalon. In a way, Country Life can be seen as Avalon’s thorny cousin; though separated by years, the two albums come closest to reconciling the band’s instrumental chops and Ferry’s romantic fantasies. I’d pick Country Life as the ideal entry point into Roxy Music, since it straddles both halves of their musical world better than any other album.

SD 36-106 A back cover SD 36-106 A lyric sleeve
SD 36-106 A back cover SD 36-106 A lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. THE THRILL OF IT ALL    (Bryan Ferry)    6:23
  2. THREE AND NINE    (Bryan Ferry/Andy Mackay)    4:01
  3. ALL I WANT IS YOU    (Bryan Ferry)    3:08
  4. OUT OF THE BLUE    (Bryan Ferry/Phil Manzanera)    4:26
  5. IF IT TAKES ALL NIGHT    (Bryan Ferry)    3:09
  6. BITTER-SWEET    (Bryan Ferry/Andy Mackay)    4:57
  7. TRIPTYCH    (Bryan Ferry)    3:09
  8. CASANOVA    (Bryan Ferry)    3:23
  9. A REALLY GOOD TIME    (Bryan Ferry)    3:44
  10. PRAIRIE ROSE    (Bryan Ferry/Phil Manzanera)    5:13

CREDITS

BRYAN FERRY -- voices & keyboards, art direction
JOHN GUSTAFSON -- bass
EDDIE JOBSON -- strings, synthesizer, keyboards
ANDREW MACKAY -- oboe & saxophone
PHIL MANZANERA -- guitar
PAUL THOMPSON -- drums
John Punter -- engineer
Eric Boman -- photography
Nicholas de Ville -- design
Bob Bowkett at C.C.S. -- artwork

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REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK November 1974 Island LP/CS ILPS 9303 lyric sleeve
US November 1974 Atco LP/CS SD 36-106 lyric sleeve, undies cover
UK February 1977 Polydor LP/CS 2302 051 lyric sleeve, undies cover
US   Atco LP SD 36-106 A lyric sleeve, edited cover
NET   Island LP 99370IT  
YUG   Jugoton LP LSI 70743 inner sleeve
US September 1989 Reprise CD/CS 26042  
JPN   Toshiba CD TOCP-65825  
WW March 2000 Virgin CD 847453 digital remaster
EUR   EMI CD 86482  
UK 2001 Virgin CD ROXYCDX4  
UK August 27, 2001 Virgin CD 847 454 ltd. ed. HDCD remaster
EUR 2003 Virgin 2CD 592 251 repackaged w. SIREN

Did you know...

"The girls on Country Life were the sister and girlfriend of Michael Karoli from the German rock group Can. We wanted it to be like they were at some amazing country house party, caught in the headlights of a car as they emerged from some encounter in their underwear." -- Bryan Ferry. (Source: The Guardian, 6/14/97.)

 

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