I'm not sure what I expected from my first full Roxy Music experience, but For Your Pleasure certainly ended up surprising me. The record approaches its 50th anniversary and its experimental spin on glam rock still sounds unique to my modern ears. Bryan Ferry croons over a variety of instrumental passages (presumably for our pleasure) and the outcome is often akin to a over-theatrical musical. Whether it appeals to you or not, there's no doubt that the overall sound is incredibly distinct in the world of contemporary music.
For much of the duration, For Your Pleasure is good, silly fun, though there are a few meandering moments. “The Bogus Man” is a glaring offender: whilst “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” builds to a superbly satisfying conclusion, this instead lingers for almost ten minutes, with nothing being introduced to truly justify the running time. It's hardly Tago Mago. Nonetheless, the experimentation is admirable and it's clear to see how Roxy Music inspired so many of our most cherished artists. I like For Your Pleasure. It mostly makes me want to listen to Bowie, though.
7 out of 10
This album feels like someone turning up at a party who by right ought to be a complete wanker. Their haircut is ridiculous, their clothes garish, their manners loud and in your face. All signs point to them being insufferable. But actually, they’re sound. Really sound. Charming, funny, self-effacing, it turns out they’re bringing much more to the party than you are, you judgemental piece of shit.
I had a swell time with For Your Pleasure. Bryan Ferry is a charismatic yet off-kilter frontman - think David Bowie meets Patrick Bateman - and those qualities are shared by the rest of the band. Whether it’s high octane tracks like “Do the Strand” or gentler ones like “In Every Dream Home a Heartache”, there is plenty of flare, but restraint too. It’s glam rock with a wink and a smile, and the results are often joyous.
The record doesn’t have the same staying power as much of the music it likely inspired, but I’m not sure that’s a mark against it. When something is so cheerfully colourful and jumbled the best thing you can do is put your pretensions aside and enjoy the company. (Especially when it comes with the mental image of Brian Eno chained to a synth organ scowling.)
8 out of 10
The bombast of For Your Pleasure is likely what you'll take away with you afterwards. The raspy sax, dramatic vocals, and ostentatious instrumentation could just as easily have a place in a gaudy musical as they do on this album.
I think the sweet spot hits right in the middle of the track list, as “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” simmers in suspense before exploding with sound and hollering. But there's a buried lede here: the album's title track sees Bryan Ferry's vocal tamed and melancholic, surrounded by dizzying reverberation. It's a departure from the majority of the album and it makes for a stark point to end on.
For Your Pleasure has made for a fun ride, and 50 years on it isn't showing its age, but its heady concoction of extravagance and feverishness will likely keep me from returning to it all too often.
7 out of 10