The Life of Brian and Bryan

Roxy Music was one of the most groundbreaking groups of the 1970s and its influence only grows. While the group has reunited several times since first breaking up, original member Brian Eno has not been an official member of the group since 1973 after it finished its second album. While rumors of a full Roxy reunion with Eno have been rife for years, Eno has played on three of Bryan Ferry’s last four solo albums. Both Ferry and Eno have new albums out and both are simply some of the best music either has made as solo artists.

Eno’s new one is Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp) and is billed as a collaboration with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams. Traces of the instrumental breaks on Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, which Eno produced and Hopkins contributed to are evident, as are the fierce techno rhythms that Eno supplied to his production of Paul Simon’s Surprise and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, his collaboration with David Byrne. Ferry’s album Olympia, which may be as good as anything he did with Roxy Music, is his debut on Astralwerks and his first album of original music since 2002’s Frantic. He released a wonderful album of Dylan covers called Dylanesque in 2007. The new album includes considerable support from Roxy studio and road band almuni Eno, Phil Manzanera, Andy McKay, Chris Spedding, Neil Hubbard, and Andy Newmark, along with appearances by Nile Rodgers, Flea, Dave Stewart, Marcus Miller, David Gilmour, Jonny Greenwood, and Steve Nieve. The album is a passionate and stylish mix of Ferry’s suave, lounge-lizard cabaret rock and Roxy Music’s slick art-pop. It’s hard to imagine that Ferry is 65. This energetic set and Ferry’s Dorian Gray fountain-of-youth visage make one think he sold his soul to the devil to be able to make an album this good and look so good doing it. The only thing to top these two albums would be a full Roxy reunion, on record and on the road.