- I am posting way too many Bryan Ferry links recently, but I think it is quite fair for now, the week when Olympia was release.
- Olympia is being very well received. Even Pitchfork had some kinds for it, to my surprise
- This article has many great topics. Bryan discusses whether music is a “kind of low class thing”. His current and past houses are described. Bete Noire went “astronically over budget”. Ironically, the next album, Horoscope, was expected to be realeased soon and cost less. (It would take another 3 years for it to come out, called Mamouna and regarded as a even worse nightmare than Bete Noire.)
It is a Sunday night in west London, and Bryan Ferry is musing on the role of pop star as artist. This being Sunday, it means the musing takes place to the silently flickering accompaniment of televised American football – a game which Ferry follows avidly “The work of Jasper John or Richard Hamilton – I feel a great kinship with those people,” he continues, replenishing his glass with red wine. “Maybe that sounds pretentious, because people always think that music is a kind of low-class thing, a lesser art, I don’t know why. It can be, I suppose, although there are some awful painters around as well. Maybe it 5 because music is on popular radio, the taint of commerce, or something..”
We were sitting in what Ferry refers to as his office, but which is more an apartmentcum-studio, carved out of a converted dairy in west London. Ferry has spent the last few months here, every day (except weekends), writing songs, composing music for his forthcoming album. He works very slowly: fastidiously, painstakingly, agonisingly slowly – a pace which infliriates his friends and colleagues, taxes the patience of his record company, and racks up an alarming number of zeros on his recording budgets.
His last album, Bete Noire, was recorded on a schedule which rambled across four countries, deploying dozens of musicians and countless man-hours. It went astronomically over budget. The new project, to be called Horoscope, has been effected more modestly, written in “the office”, and recorded at a studio a short walk away.
Ferry’s office would be a nice place to work: it is comfortably flinctional, The white walls are hung with cover art from early Roxy Music albums, there is an Alessi kettle on the hob, an exercise bicycle, sofas, a king-size Sony TV, design magazines are stacked on tables and an enormous wicker basket, of the kind used by theatrical companies to store costumes, stands in one corner; it once belonged to the surrealist Edward James.
Such an inventory of effects seems almost obligatory when writing about Bryan Ferry. In fact, looking back over the press-cuttings of the past two decades, his career can be read on one level, like a chronology of domestic interiors and appurtenances.
- 1976 – Chelsea flat: large studio sofa; metallic art deco ashtray on a metallic stand:
- 1982 – Chelsea pied ~ terre: French marble chimney piece; English mahogany desk; piles of hardbacks by William Golding, Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh; Victorian paintings on the wall, radio tuned to Radio Three:
- 1985 – Country house in Sussex: gardens by Clough Williams-Ellis, architect of Port Meirion; arts and crafts flirniture; art deco ornaments, paintings by the Bloomsbury group. Radio still tuned to Radio Three.
All of this is interesting, of course, not only because it reflects Ferry’s style and taste -which are, after all, very much part of his business – but also because it seems to some implicit index of the social possibilities of pop music success; Bryan the working-class lad, up there with the toffs and the intellectuals. It intimates a particularly English set of assumptions and prejudices.