- This killer early British Island import pressing had two amazing sides, each rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it
- This one is simply bigger, richer, more clear and more Tubey Magical than almost every other copy we heard in our shootout
- As quiet as any Island original we’ve ever heard – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – they don’t come quieter
- AMG raves that “…Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here.”
Many of the best songs Bryan Ferry ever wrote and Roxy Music ever played are on this album. Musically it’s right up there with the first album and Siren. All three represent the high watermark of early- to mid-’70s Arty Rock.
These British pressings give you the richest, fullest, biggest sound with the least amount of sibilance, grain and grunge. It’s the rich, full-bodied ANALOG sound — with some problems to be sure — that we adore here at Better Records.
We thank John Punter for his engineering and production at George Martiin’s legendary AIR Studios.
This recording has always had at least some harshness associated with it. Since every copy of this album (including multiple versions of the CD) has that characteristic I think it’s fair to say it’s on the tape. The best copies have the least and the worst copies tend to have the most, everything else being equal.
The domestic, German, Japanese and Dutch pressings are not remotely competitive with the Brits on this album (which is not true for all Roxy’s albums but clearly true for this one, Siren being the obvious exception to the rule).
Roxy’s Art Rock
Now for those of you who are not big Roxy Music fans and don’t know this music, this album may take a bit of getting used to. We assure you it will be well worth your while. We think it’s brilliant.
And if you do consider yourself a fan of Art Rock, every Roxy album should be on your shelf, right up there with your Bowie, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Eno, Peter Gabriel, 10cc and too many others to list. (Most are personal favorites of mine, albums I have played hundreds of times over the last 40 years and plan to keep playing until my ears give out.)
The Track Listing tab above will take you to a select song breakdown for each side, with a smattering of What to Listen For (WTLF) advice.
The Thrill of It All
Three and Nine
On the best copies this track is the very definition of Tubey Magical richness and smoothness.
All I Want Is You
A little thinner and brighter than the other tracks on this side as a rule.
Out of the Blue
The best guitar solo ever played on the violin. Go Eddie!
If It Takes All Night
The best copies have monstrous bass on this track, along with huge amounts of space. Again, the Tubey Magic can be off the charts here.
The vocals on this track will always spit to some degree. The cleanest, most tonally correct sibilance is what you are looking for on this track. That, and amazing rock energy!
A Really Good Time
Continuing with the stylistic developments of Stranded, Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. From the sleek rock of ‘All I Want Is You’ and ‘Prairie Rose’ to the elegant, string-laced pop of ‘A Really Good Time,’ Country Life is filled with thrilling songs, and Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here.
I’ve been a giant Roxy Music fan since 1975. Rolling Stone gave Siren a rave review that year, and I went right out and bought myself a copy on their say-so. I then proceeded to play it every day. This went on for weeks. I’m a bit obsessive that way. (Being obsessive is extremely helpful if you have a desire to excel in audio. It may in fact be the most important trait of them all.)
I consider Roxy to be one of the greatest Art Rock bands in the history of the world. Although the general public and probably most audiophiles would surely cast their vote for Avalon as the band’s masterpiece, I much prefer the music of these others — their eponymous first album, Stranded, Country Life and Siren — to the more “accessible” music found on Avalon.
To be fair, that’s splitting hairs, because any of those five titles are absolute Must Own Albums that belong in any serious popular music collection.