Album: For Your Pleasure
. . .
You know how when you’re checking out an artist new to you, and you can’t quite wrap your head around them, and then there’s one song that suddenly floors you, opening the door for the rest of their songs? For me and Roxy Music, that song is “Editions of You,” which is at least part of why it’s my favorite of their songs.
That’s part of it, but mostly it’s because “Editions of You” is pure, uncut adrenaline wrapped up in a shit ton of wit.
“Editions of You” starts off with Bryan Ferry playing an electric piano, bassist John Porter offering support, and then drummer Paul Thompson comes barreling in with a primo double-time beat, an absolutely merciless “thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka” that acts as a track for the bullet train that is the rest of the song — guitars and bass and sax and electric piano an unholy mesh of lovely noise — the first part of which is dominated by a breathless Ferry vocal:
Well, I’m here looking through an old picture frame
Just waiting for the perfect view
I hope something special will step in to my life
Another fine edition of you
A pin-up done in shades of blue
Cause sometimes you find a yearning for the quiet life
The country air and all its joys
But badgers couldn’t compensate at twice the price
For just another night with the boys, oh yeah
And boys will be boys will be boy-oy-oys
Bryan Ferry is having so much fun here! I couldn’t even begin to tell you what “Editions of You” is all about. “Another fine edition of you” could be a shot at Bowie, but probably not, and the dis on the quiet life is worth twice the price for his “boys will be boys will be boy-oy-oys” at the end of it, after which he barrels into the next verse.
They say love’s a gamble, hard to win, easy lose
And while sun shines you’d better make hay
So if life is your table and fate is the wheel
Then let the chips fall where they may
In modern times, the modern way
And as Ferry extends the last line to “the modern way-uh-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey,” Paul Thompson cranks out an absolutely brutal drum roll announcing one of the greatest instrumental breaks in all of rock history. First up is Andy Mackay, his sax picking up from Ferry’s “hey hey hey” alternating between a classic rock ‘n’ roll sax break and blowing out massive sheets of sound. Next up is ol’ sourpuss himself, Brian Eno, who conjures up alien ships attacking the bullet train but their lasers just bouncing off of it, and there’s an absolutely awesome part where Phil Manzanera either starts his solo a bit too early, or is enjoying what Eno’s doing so much he wants to join in. Either way, I absolutely love the interplay, and it sets up Manzanera’s solo, which is gorgeous and primal all at the same time.
Finally, after a full minute of this craziness, Paul Thompson brings them back into the song proper with an absolutely amazing snare roll — listen for how he lays off the kick drum for the first part of it, and how the kick comes in for the second part, driving it even harder — after which Ferry takes off again.
And as I was drifting past the Lorelei
I heard those slinky sirens wail – whooo!
So look out, sailor, when you hear them croon
You’ll never been the same again, oh no
Their crazy music drives you insane – this way
I love how the whole band — or it could just be Eno, I guess — joins Ferry in screaming “whoooo” in imitation of the slinky sirens. Oh, and after this verse. Ferry takes a cool little organ solo, setting up the final verse, Manzanera soloing in the background.
So love, leave me, do what you will
Who knows what tomorrow might bring?
Learn from your mistakes is my only advice
And stay cool is still the main rule
And now Eno joins in on the vocals, as Ferry realizes that he has more advice than “learn from your MIS-takes.”
Don’t play yourself for a fool
Too much cheesecake too soon
Old money’s better than new
No mention in the latest Tribune
And don’t let this happen to you
And then with one last pair of sax-and-guitar driven turnarounds, “Editions of You” comes crashing to an end. And OMG, talk about crazy music. This wonderful glorious melange of sound could only come from early Roxy Music, and while it was only ever a b-side, it’s as great as any of the bigger singles and an absolute pre-punk precursor.
“Editions of You”
“Editions of You” live in West Germany, 1973
“Editions of You” live 1973
“Editions of You” live at their Rock N Roll Hall Fame Induction, 2019
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