Roxy Music – Country Life – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

Many of the best songs Ferry ever wrote and Roxy ever played are on this album. Musically it’s right up there with the first album and Siren, both early ’70s Art Rock landmarks.

In our experience the right British original Sunray (Pink Rim) Island pressing will always win the shootout if you have a good pile of copies to play. There are some bad sounding Island LPs out there, so don’t assume the Sunray is the answer. It’s potentially the right answer. Without at least five copies in hand you won’t know for sure whether the copy you like is truly a Hot Stamper or not-that-hot-of-a-stamper.

The sound on some tracks is noticeably better than others. 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.

This recording has always had a certain amount of 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.

We thank John Punter for his engineering and production at George Martin’s legendary AIR Studios.

Other Pressings

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.)

Track Commentary

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.


This is the band’s Masterpiece as well as a Desert Island Disc for yours truly.

What qualifies a record to be a Masterpiece needs no explanation. We will make every effort to limit the list to one entry per artist or group, although some exceptions have already occurred to me, so that rule will no doubt be broken from time to time. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so memorably wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”

For a record to come to my Desert Island Disc, said record: 1) must have at some time during my fifty years as a music lover and audio enthusiast been played enthusiastically, fanatically even, causing me to feel what Leonard Bernstein called “the joy of music”; 2) my sixty year old self must currently respect the album, and; 3) I must think I will want to listen to the music fairly often and well into the future (not knowing how long I may be stranded there).

How many records meet the Desert Island Disc criteria? Certainly many more than you can see when you click on the link, but new titles will be added as time permits.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

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

Side Two

Bitter Sweet

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.

Triptych
Casanova

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
Prairie Rose

AMG Review

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.

Roxy Music

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.