MANIFESTO

I made mention, when pulling together ICA 250, that Manifesto had been the first Roxy Music album I’d bought at the time of its release, having really been too young to do so when the band had been in their early 70s pomp.

It’s an album I took to quite quickly, but then again having spent hard-earned cash from the paper round on a full-priced LP, there was no way I wasn’t going to sing its merits. The critics, on the other hand, were a bit less enthralled:-

“Ultimately, I found it hard to work up much enthusiasm for Manifesto….the band have come full circle without evolving anything dramatically new – at least – not according to those initial standards … Perhaps greater familiarity with Manifesto will reveal hidden magic. At present, it merely comes across over like an assured modern dip into friendly territory – an entertaining, pleasant album.” (Max Bell, NME)

“This isn’t Roxy at its most innovative, just its most listenable – the entire “West Side” sustains the relaxed, pleasantly funky groove it intends, and the difficulties of the “East Side” are hardly prohibitive. At last Ferry’s vision seems firsthand even in its distancing – he’s paid enough dues to deserve to keep his distance. And the title track is well-named, apparent contradictions and all.” (Robert Christgau, Village Voice)

“So the record has its moments – moments few bands even know about – but as with the brazenly (and meaninglessly) titled “Manifesto,” they add up to little. Ferry announces he’s for the guy “who’d rather die than be tied down”; he’s rarely traded on such banality, and he mouths the lyrics as if he hopes no one will hear them. The sound may be alive, but the story is almost silent.” (Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone)

It was interesting that the second and third singles taken from the album – Dance Away and Angel Eyes – were completely different mixes from those on the album, at least to begin with. The singles were far more poppy and danceable and the fact they were chart hits led to the label bosses choosing to have the second pressings of the album come instead with the remix of Dance Away with even later pressings then seeing the remix of Angel Eyes replace its original version. As I said, they are quite different in style and substance, particularly Angel Eyes:-

mp3: Roxy Music – Dance Away
mp3: Roxy Music – Angel Eyes

mp3: Roxy Music – Dance Away (single mix)
mp3: Roxy Music – Angel Eyes (single mix)

The other thing that struck me, many years later, was that Roxy Music album sleeves had been notorious for featuring scantily-clad models but Manifesto’s sleeve consisted of mannequins under disco lights, albeit very stylishly dressed.

There was also a picture disk version of the album made available in which the mannequins kept the same pose but were unclothed, and at first glance, it looked like a group of naked clubgoers.  I’m sure this would have caused untold confusion in the record section of those chains that had a policy of no nudes or offensive sleeves to be on public display within their stores.

JC

6 thoughts on “MANIFESTO

  1. Manifesto was also the 1st Roxy Music LP that I bought. I nabbed a new, picture disc version from Listen and subsequently bought every other LP from its second hand section, located downstairs.

    I had no idea the LP and single mixes were different.

    It’s an LP that I hold dear, not just because it was one of my first purchases but also because it’s stood the test of time – as have all the LPs.

  2. I like manifesto but i almost feel it is the gateway between the wild and wacky earlier albums to the polished albums such as Avalon. You also get the feeling that Ferry is a bit burnt out and this rings true with the addition of more and more covers on Roy albums from here on in. However like you I only started listening to Roxy albums late 70’s due to age so i have a real fondness for the last 3 albums as whilst those older punters are a bit sniffy about late Roxy I still feel there was quality on all the albums.
    TBH Roxy are one of the few groups that i get something out of any of their studio albums when i listen to them..

  3. I only found out about the single mixes a few months ago when I ‘found’ (someone passed to me) the mp3’s of them. My original version on vinyl is one of the reissues with the single mix of Dance Away but original mix of Angel Eyes. When you’ve been listening to the album versions of tracks, you automatically think they are what you heard on the radio. Manifesto was MY first RM LP too – from there I went backwards to For Your Pleasure and Country Life….. then the rest!

  4. I discovered Roxy as a teenager so I heard all their albums up to Manifesto at the same time. Inexplicably, the band got no airplay at all in the US. I looked it up and Wiki says the only single to break the top 40–throughout their entire career–is ‘Love Is The Drug’. I wrote that number off as a disco novelty. So, comparing Manifesto to the rest of their output it came off as Roxy Lite. I like it okay but nowhere near as much as the earlier biz.

    Having written all that Echorich will probably have bought their first album when it came out, seen them 20 times and had brunch with Eno and Ferry in 1972.

  5. I probably bought my copy of this in between “Flesh + Blood” and “Avalon.” In a US edition that had the single mix of “Dance Away” [the sleeve had a pink hype sticker promoting the cut] but the LP version of “Angel Eyes.” I liked it fine but it seemed to be much “rougher around the edges” than the next album, which I had first. I can recall seeing the “Angel Eyes” video on early MTV in 1982 and being flabbergasted at the difference in the hyper-compressed, over-the-top-with-glissandos disco version of the track and the somewhat downmarket LP version that seemed to be from the “wrong side of the tracks!”

    I got the 1st pressing Euro CD of the title in 1985-6 and the single mixes were on that version. These days I like the “East Side” a lot. The title track is a real slow burner and like nothing else in the Roxy canon. The dissonant coda was a chilling end to an intense number. I also loved the R+B of “Cry, Cry, Cry” and thought it was single moxie. I often picked it for any Roxy mix tapes I made. It took until the “Thrill Of It All” box in the late 90s until I managed to ever hear the original “Dance Away” mix.

    I might have had the picture disc version of the album since the early 90s to hear the original mixes of the two singles, but I’ve never spun it! These days the “Complete Studio Recordings” box finally gives us the original release version of the LP on CD with all of the single versions
    • Dance Away (7″ Version) 3:50
    • Dance Away (Canadian Extended 12″ Mix) 6:32
    • Angel Eyes (7″ Version) 2:53
    • Angel Eyes (12″ Version) 6:39
    on the bonus material discs. As it should be! Funny; today I was at a loss as what to write about and hit the “random” button on my Discogs collection and “Mamouna” came up and set me off. Then after posting I came here to find the TNVV/PPM Ferry synergy!

  6. JTFL – A drink with Bryan Ferry at an after show dinner at MK in Madison Park following Night one of the Bette Noire Tour at Radio City Music Hall is as close as I get to your expectations, I’m afraid.
    My first Roxy album was For Your Pleasure, which I purchased around 197, probably in Korvettes department store music section. I quickly filled in the gaps but Manifesto was the first one I bought when it came out. FYP, to this day, remains my favorite Roxy album, Manifesto is on the lower end, just above Flesh + Blood.
    Best song on Manifesto, Stronger Through The Years, why the rest of the album doesn’t reach the same height has always confused me.

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