Richard James Havis
For Your Pleasure
David Bowie may have written a song called Fashion, but it was his glam rock contemporaries Roxy Music who were best known for it. While Roxy's original image was glittery in the glam-rock mould, the band adopted a more high-fashion look for 1973's For Your Pleasure.
Singer and band leader Bryan Ferry accentuated his matinee-idol looks with clothing made by his friend, fashion designer Antony Price. The original inner sleeve of the album features the band decked out in some stylish outfits made by Price, including gold and silver shoes and knee boots. Price continued to design Ferry's clothes for years and developed the singer's trademark suits which featured tight waists and big lapels.
For Your Pleasure's fashion connections didn't stop there. The cover features model Amanda Lear in a tight, shiny dress posing with a jaguar on a leash. Lear, a former paramour of Spanish artist Salvador Dali, was Ferry's girlfriend at that time, and he persuaded her to appear on the cover. Price styled the shot and provided the clothing. (Lear later became a lover of David Bowie's before launching into a career as a disco singer.)
Roxy's album covers would generally feature models including Jerry Hall until the band changed direction in the 1980s. Country Life, also styled by Price, even featured two models in see-through underwear, and was judged too provocative for the US market.
Fashion played a big part in the success of Roxy Music. As with Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona, Roxy's outre clothing got the band noticed. But they didn't have to rely on their image for success. Roxy were all highly innovative musicians and Ferry's voice was mellow and emotive. Brian Eno brought fascinating electronic sounds to the music on some big analogue synthesisers and a Revox tape machine, while guitarist Phil Manzanera was more of an experimentalist than a rocker. Andy Mackay's clever saxophone lines rounded out the intriguing sonics.
Roxy had scored an early hit with their loud and melodic Virginia Plain, which won them acclaim as one of the more artistic glam-rock bands. For Your Pleasure saw them gradually segueing into an art-rock band. The songs are interesting and the sounds unusual. Do the Strand, the LP's poppiest number, is loud and brash in the vein of Virginia Plain. The balladic Strictly Confidential features some sonic interplay between saxophone and piano. In Every Dream Home a Heartache is about 1970s consumerism, and uses the idea of a blow-up doll to emphasise anodyne synthetic perfection.
For Your Pleasure pushed Roxy further into the mainstream, and they followed up with critically acclaimed albums Stranded, Country Life and Siren. Things went artistically sour in the 1980s, when the band released slick LPs such as Flesh and Blood and Avalon. Although these were big hits, the over-produced sounds were reviled by their original fans.
Roxy Music still perform occasionally today. Keyboard maestro Eno, who left the band after For Your Pleasure, is one of the world's top record producers and has worked with a slew of top bands including U2.