|1. Street Life|
|2. Just Like You|
|6. A Song For Europe|
|7. Mother Of Pearl|
There wasn't as much a shift in the band's sound as is often claimed. Though toned down from the Eno period, the sonic oddities and experimentalism are still very much in evidence. Anyone first hearing the combined '50s fingerpoppin'/UFO landing intro of "Street Life" knew damn well they were witnessing something new under the sun. Rather, "Stranded" introduced a new conciseness in the band's performance, a more intensive focus. The meandering twelve-minute suites were gone, replaced by songs that started at 'A' and ended up... Well, they may have ended in the stratosphere of Jupiter, but, for the first time, they covered all the bases in between.
There are no poor songs on the album. Every cut is a gem, with preference a matter of taste. To my mind, standouts include the relentless "Mother of Pearl" (no more compelling song about romantic obsession has ever been released), "Psalm", a unique religious song (an example of the virtually ignored religious element of Glam, Bowie's "Soul Love" and Mott's "Hymn for the Dudes" being others), and the autumnal album closer "Sunset" (has anyone else noticed that the Ferry/Eno "I Thought" acts as an answer piece to this song, thirty years on?) The band never rocked harder than on "Street Life" and "Serenade". I'm sure there's even somebody out there who loves "Just Like You".
Roxy lost something after "Standed", a quality hard to identify, that was the band's alone, and which reached its peak with this album.Read more ›
After the spavined weirdness of the first Roxy Music album, and the deeply disturbing follow-up For Your Pleasure, Bryan Ferry ousted Eno from the band and attempted something new with Stranded, not only for him but for all pop music -- a hymn to life, a Thus Spake Zarathustra in sound. But be warned: Anyone lucky enough to hear Stranded will spend years afterward searching in vain for anything remotely like it, and equally fruitless will be your many attempts to find a metaphor to describe it. Some will say it sounds like the aurora borealis, others that it's the essence of autumn trapped and bottled as a musical elixir. For me, it's like an amethyst rotating slowly underneath a concentrated laser, the spectacle being the mesmerically fluctuating veins of light inside. These gemstone comparisons are the hardest for me to resist, because Ferry crafts songs throughout more like a master jeweller than your typical riff-obsessed rocker. Song titles like "Mother of Pearl" were not idly chosen.
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"Mother of Pearl," in fact, is the centerpiece of the album, an eight-minute wigout somewhere between a Can experiment and Sinatra. It roars out of the gates with abrasive guitars and cut-up vocals, then after a minute suddenly and unexpectedly slows down into a repetitive groove, giving Ferry space to play the tortured crooner. You can literally envision the nonexistent moment when, wiping the sweat from his brow, he pulls up a stool in front of his screaming fans for an intimate confession. All at once it's a deconstruction of rock cliches, a foregrounding of tried-on personas -- Elvis's in particular, who Ferry also channelled in For Your Pleasure's sublime "Beauty Queen" -- and a highly personal catharsis, but it's by no means dry.
The mood on "Stranded" isn't as downer-hallucinatory as on the all-time-sexiest-rock-album-cover contender "Country Life," (probably their 'best' overall record after "Avalon" though not as 'cool' as "Stranded," and 'cool' is more important in my book!) but in a much more funky, upbeat-hallucinatory, hyperactive, almost Sly Stonish 'rocking out' mode.
Personally, I can't stand "Song For Europe" and I always program around it; "Street Life," "Amazona" and "Mother of Pearl," on the other hand, are my 3 all-time favorite RM tunes, loud enough to be rock'n'roll, funky yet driven by disorted guitars, musically sophisticated yet not too pretentious.
To anyone new to the early period of this seminal '70s band, I'd suggest getting "Stranded" first, then "Country Life" or "For Your Pleasure," rather than "Siren," or the bursting-with-ideas but sloppy debut record. It's these three that represent the rawest and best material the early band has to offer, whereas "Siren" is a more polished, less immediately real attempt at reaching a larger U.S. audience.Read more ›
With Eno gone, it is almost if Brian Ferry was trying to find his voice. Read more