For your pleasure: Ferry on his finest solo work, album by album
A grab-bag rushed out to capitalise on the title track’s success, Ferry’s third nonetheless features some classic tracks, including covers of early Roxy songs, alongside some equally classic tailoring…
We recorded the single, “Let’s Stick Together”, first – I love the original version by Wilbert Harrison, it’s much better than the version I did. I love some of those early R’n’B records, quite rough and ready, warm, beautiful records, and I just fancied doing it. We had [Everly Brothers cover] “The Price Of Love”, too, and a couple of tracks, and I think everybody around me thought, ‘Let’s see how the single goes, it’s going to be a big record.’ And I guess it was. So Polydor said, ‘Please, can we have an album?’ So we quickly did these tracks and threw it all together. I covered myself for the first time – I did “Chance Meeting”, “2HB”, “Re-Make/Re-Model” and “Sea Breezes”, all from the first Roxy album, and “Casanova” from Country Life. I just thought it would be fun to do them in a different style, in a different way. The same way that in my record collection I have several different versions of Charlie Parker playing the same song in different periods of his career, with different lineups. We were based in Air Studios in Oxford Circus, which was a great studio. They’ve got about four different rooms and all of the engineers there were very well-drilled – not quite wearing lab coats, but the next generation on. Let’s Stick Together was the first time I worked with Chris Spedding, who was, and is, a really great guitar player. He played a lovely Flying V guitar. It was all done very quickly, with a great spirit. Jerry Hall did that whooping on “Let’s Stick Together” – she appeared in the video, which was also done very quickly. The clothes and set were designed by Antony Price, and it was directed by a friend of mine, Jonathan Benson, who was the assistant director on some of the Monty Python movies, and a very nice man. Yes, it was a good look I had in that video, with the moustache! It was a look I’d seen in many a movie – Clark Gable type of thing. Movies have always been a big source of inspiration for me, with either songs or just looks. I like the way people looked in old black and white movies – everybody wore a hat and a suit. You’d see people walking down the street and everybody’s wearing a hat. It’s a terrible shame that people don’t anymore.
In Your Mind
With Roxy Music on hiatus, Ferry creates his first solo album of original songs, with more help from Chris Spedding, Phil Manzanera, Paul Thompson and former King Crimson bassist John Wetton.
After Let’s Stick Together, I went on my first world tour as a solo artist. I think I’d got fed up with being in a band, and wanted to try making an album of original material as a solo artist. I say as a solo artist, but it was more like being in a different band ’cos it wasn’t just me on my own with a guitar, or piano. I think this is the first time I worked with strings. There’s a great string arrangement on “Love Me Madly Again”, which Ann Odell did, which was really beautiful, I think. Once again we did this in Air Studios. I remember the great solo Chris Spedding did on “Love Me Madly Again”. I sort of tricked him, because it was one of those songs where it goes from one thing into a whole different mood, a different movement, really – and I just let it go on into the next part of the song, with completely different chords and everything, and he did the most incredible kind of recovery with this solo that was very beautiful! I’ve always tried to get people’s initial responses from a piece of music. So I always like to record the first take, and I remember that was one time when it really paid off. You just get people instinctively responding to the music they’re hearing for the first time, and that’s very important.
The Bride Stripped Bare
Ferry hooks up with LA sessioneers in Switzerland for a confessional, bluesy response to his split with Jerry Hall.
This featured a composite band. Neil Hubbard was one of the two guitarists, and I had met this American guitar player, Waddy Wachtel, when I was writing some of the songs for this record in LA. I met a drummer there, too, Rick Marotta, and I took them over to Switzerland, to this studio near Geneva called Mountain Studios. Ann Odell was the keyboard player as well as me, and Alan Spenner was the crazy bass player. So him and Neil Hubbard were the English guys, and so the friction between them and the two Americans was really exciting. I thought the results were fantastic. I was living out in LA with my friend Simon Puxley, who was a very important person in the making of all these records. He was the man in the background, who was my publicist and Roxy’s. He had written the sleevenotes for the first Roxy album, and he became my close friend and confidant. He was a wonderful person. He was like the extra member of the band, and he’s sorely missed to this day. There were a lot of things fermenting at that time. I had an assistant working for me who was into punk and he’d play me some of the things that were coming out of England; I was out in LA, absorbing all this American stuff, so I was in a very different headspace, but I did this track “Sign Of The Times”, which had a kind of punk feeling to it. It was a way of getting Waddy and Rick to play in this aggressive kind of style.