Bryan Ferry – Boys and Girls

I came to Roxy Music very late. I knew that they were popular, I knew that they were supposed to be sorta arty, I knew that 1974’s “Country Life” cover made all the boys insane, but the fact is, even though I saw their records all the time, I never heard their records. In retrospect, when I caught on to them, songs like “Love Is The Drug” and “All I Want is You” seemed at least a little familiar, but I don’t know where I heard them.

Boys and Girls front cover
Boys and Girls front cover – oozing ’80s model erotica – and an unusual approach, putting half the song titles on the front, half on the back

However, when Roxy Music’s “Avalon” came out in 1982, it got a huge amount of attention thanks to its absolutely beautiful video for the title track, which was a staple of MTV, proving that even a song that didn’t chart could now be highly influential. “Avalon” was like a dream album . . . so beautiful, so romantic. Suddenly, I really really liked Roxy Music.

Of course, that came out when I was still in college. It was three years later, when we were living early married life in a rehabbed Edwardian apartment house in Syracuse, that Bryan Ferry’s solo “Boys and Girls” came out. Whether I heard the tracks on MTV (which was already veering from its musical focus) or somehow else, I don’t remember. “Don’t Stop The Dance” did very well as a single in the US, reaching #26 on the adult contemporary charts, and “Slave to Love” was even higher, #19 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks (seriously, how many ways does Billboard slice these things?). This album went gold in the US, selling at least 500,000 records, so it definitely got some attention.

I loved it at the time, and while it was a very different kind of music from what “Avalon” had been, it still had the sophistication that Bryan Ferry seemed to just ooze, and while it was really close to dance music, it was really smart dance music.

I bought this as soon as it came out, and his next one as well, and I must have played them a lot. Unlike some of the Roxy Music records, though, I never got these on CD, never transferred them to digital, and so I never really listened to them after the ‘80s. Despite my decent-sized record collection, which I trimmed down from about 1000 records, once we had kids, nearly all our music experience was on CD. Putting on records was a commitment that meant I had to pay attention, be ready to change sides in something like 20 minutes. It just didn’t happen that often, especially in the years when I had 5-CD changers and could just load a few hours of discs into the player, hit shuffle (or not), and not have to worry about the music for a few hours. Convenience won out in those years, and my collection languished. And so I really don’t think i’ve played this record 10 times since 1989.

Boys and Girls back cover
Boys and Girls back cover featuring Mr. Ferry himself looking so sophisticated. The cover is very unusual, printed so that you have to turn the album upside down for it to read right.

Until this week, when I can’t stop playing it. This is great. This is fantastic. I like this so much. Some of the music is haunting, and I’m finding that I remember every word, every musical phrase, so I must have paid it quite a bit of attention back then. And the album package is fantastic looking – very sophisticated ’80s, beautifully executed, dreamy to look at, perfectly suiting the music.

Boys and Girls Picture Sleeve
Boys and Girls sleeve – more romantic art and odd credits that list everyone who played but not what they did.
The lyrics side of the sleeve, all set in Bernhard Modern, which is one way you know it was 1985.

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