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Roxy Music Married Cinema and Sound to Escape Everyday Life

on March 24, 2020, 10:20am

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The first Roxy Music album brings together a patchwork of inspirations and influences from across the decades. In the second episode of Ghost Echoes, we stroll spontaneously into the movie theatre of the mind and examine a few of them. Here’s looking at you, kid.

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Music and Sound Notes:

— All of the Roxy Music tracks heard here for illustrative purposes are from their debut album. They include: “Re-Make/Re-Model”, “Virginia Plain”, “Bitters End”, “Chance Meeting”, and “2HB”.

— The recording of Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto near the start is by an anonymous soloist and symphony orchestra, from Musopen. The excerpt from Brief Encounter itself features a recording of the same concerto by Eileen Joyce with the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Muir Matheson. The Noël Coward song heard shortly after is “The Party’s Over Now,” from the musical Words and Music.

— The segment on pop art features excerpts from Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” and David Bowie’s “Andy Warhol.” The section about musicians who went to art school features tiny extracts from “All Your Love” by John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers; “Imagine” by John Lennon; “Brown Sugar”, “Some Girls”, and “Honky Tonk Women” all by the Rolling Stones; “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin; “Pinball Wizard” by the Who; “Tubular Bells, Part 1” by Mike Oldfield; “Bike” by Pink Floyd; “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos; “The Village Green Preservation Society” by the Kinks; “Seaside Rendezvous” by Queen; “Your Love is King” by Sade; “Common People” by Pulp; “You’re So Great” by Blur; “Man-Size” by PJ Harvey; “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.; “Kiss With A Fist” by Florence and the Machine; and “London Calling” by the Clash.

— The recording of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” used here is by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Uwe Mund. The brief excerpt from the start of Das Rheingold is the Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Marek Janowski, and the horn call from Götterdämmerung is the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chailly.

— The music that finishes the episode off is from the end of Max Steiner’s score for Casablanca.

Further reading, watching:

— The two main sources for biographical information were Michael Bracewell’s Re-Make/Re-Model and Simon Reynolds’ Shock and Awe. The Brief Encounter section is loosely inspired by Roland Barthes’ essay “Leaving the Movie Theatre” from The Rustle of Language. The list of art school alumni who went on to pop stardom comes from Pretentiousness: Why it Matters by Dan Fox.

— The BBC documentary at the beginning of the pop art section is “Pop Goes the Easel,” an episode of Monitor, hosted by Huw Wheldon and directed by the great Ken Russell. The interview clips with Ferry are taken from a Channel Four documentary called This is Tomorrow.

— The images in this blog post were the main source for my descriptions of the Roxy Theatre.

— Other film and television clips come from Brief Encounter; What’s Opera, Doc?; The Wizard of Oz; Casablanca and Now, Voyager

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