BMG will issue Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1974 in February a Bryan Ferry live album that was recorded 45 years ago at the famous London venue. This concert saw the setlist built from Ferry’s first two solo albums, 1973’s These Foolish Things and Another Time, Another Place from 1974. Both albums saw the Roxy Music frontman cover other people’s songs (with the exception of Another Time, Another Place‘s title track).
Hooking up with regular Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard as the co-producer of this album proved to be just the trick for Ferry. Bete Noire sparkles as the highlight of Ferry's post-Roxy solo career, adding enough energy to make it more than Boys and Girls part two. Here, his trademark well-polished heartache strikes a fine balance between mysterious moodiness and dancefloor energy, and Leonard adds more than a few tricks that keep the pep up. Five out of the nine songs are Ferry/Leonard collaborations; all succeed, from "Limbo"'s opening punch and flow to the cinematic (and unsurprisingly French-tinged) feeling of the title track. The atmospheric, almost chilling "Zamba"'s minimal, buried drums, soft synths and doomy piano, make it the best of that bunch. Ferry's best moment here is all his own, though – the great single "Kiss and Tell," with a steady, bold bassline leading the way for his slightly dissolute portrayal of mating rituals and all they entail. Like Boys and Girls, the album's supporting cast mixes a lengthy list of session pros with a few guest stars.
Frantic manages to touch upon virtually every musical style of Bryan Ferry's career. Ferry has proved to be as interested in covering other artists' material as penning original songs, and he straddles a smart mix of originals and covers here. Two brilliant Bob Dylan songs appear among the opening tracks: "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" sees a return to the eclectic, energetic experimentation of Ferry's early albums with Roxy Music as a lush modern swirl of instruments mingles with the singer's stylized vocals and throwback harmonica; "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" completes the Dylan pair, as Ferry intones with confidence and again takes up harmonica over Colin Good's rolling piano.
Having at last laid Roxy to bed with its final, intoxicatingly elegant albums, Ferry continued its end-days spirit with his own return to solo work. Dedicated to Ferry's father, Boys and Girls is deservedly most famous for its smash single "Slave to Love." With a gentle samba-derived rhythm leading into the steadier rock pace of the song, it's '80s Ferry at his finest, easy listening without being hopelessly soporific…