- This stunning British pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
- No domestic LP or import from any other country has ever been better than passable – we should know, we’ve been cleaning and playing every kind of pressing we could find for this title for forty years
- Credit as always goes to the brilliant engineering of Roxy’s go-to guy, Rhett Davies
- Flesh + Blood is the precursor to Avalon, with much the same style and sound – some of Roxy’s best material and biggest hits are here
This British LP is cut by one of my favorite mastering houses in England, which no doubt accounts for the excellent sound. The estimable Robert Ludwig cut the domestic pressings. Unfortunately for us Americans it sounds to us like they gave him a dub tape to master from. (The same thing happened on Avalon by the way.)
This vintage Polydor pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of Flesh + Blood Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1980
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
This is a transitional album. Some of it sounds like Avalon (Oh Yeah, Over You, etc) and some of it sounds more like their earlier material. It may not be as consistent as Avalon but it’s well worth owning for its best songs (listed below) and highly recommended for fans of the band.
Standout tracks on side one include In the Midnight Hour / Oh Yeah / My Only Love
Standout tracks on side two include Over You / Eight Miles High / Rain, Rain, Rain
What We’re Listening For on Flesh + Blood
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Rhett Davies in this case — would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Adventures in Music and Sound
AMG calls Roxy Music the “most adventurous rock band of the early ’70s” and I’m inclined to agree with them. Roxy are certainly one of the most influential and important bands in my growth as a music lover and audiophile, joining the ranks of Supertramp, Ambrosia, 10cc, Steely Dan, Yes, Bowie and countless others, musicians and bands who seemed to me dedicated to exploring and exploding the conventions of popular music.
My equipment was forced to evolve in order to be able to play the scores of challenging recordings issued by these groups in the ’70s. You could say that the albums of Roxy Music and others informed not only my taste in music but the actual stereo I play that music on. I’ve had large scale dynamic speakers for the last four decades, precisely in order to play records like this, the kind of music I fell in love with more than forty years ago.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
In the Midnight Hour
Same Old Scene
Flesh and Blood
My Only Love
Eight Miles High
Rain, Rain, Rain
No Strange Delight
Wikipedia on the Singles from Flesh + Blood
Allmusic.com in a review of the single: “Over You” represents one of the crowning achievements of Roxy Music’s last years, a hauntingly hypnotic love song which spirals along on a warm bed of rhythm and guitar, interspersed with a few slabs of classic Roxy dissonance, and interrupted by some classic Beatles-ish guitar from Phil Manzanera.”
The first single “Over You” is the only Roxy Music single included in Dave Marsh’s The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. Marsh writes “Roxy Music from time to time produced slices of music that were compulsively listenable, adding a dangerous groove to a fantasy Top 40 (since none of them actually reached it, in the States at least) in which such ironic distance might have actually communicated something other than the performers’ feelings of inherent superiority to the genres in which they trafficked.
“Invariably, these pieces presented themselves as singles. Among the more memorable were “Do the Strand,” and “Love is the Drug,” a trenchant satire (I think) of love songs and romantic love per se. Best of all, though, was “Over You,” its title a multilayered pun (which was perhaps even scatological in some dimensions), its topic an essence of banality, but its groove irresistible.
“Ferry’s singing succumbs to the seductions of the beat and actually shows some life, so that even though the lyrics are actually quite as predictable as they want to be, their juxtaposition with heavily romantic piano chords, synth riffs, and Andy Mackay’s soprano sax solo lends them a lush romanticism, as if the love song overlay were genuinely felt by all concerned.”
Rob Sheffield writes “Ferry had always founded his most arcane art notions on an unshakeable passion for pop. Roxy’s quintessential song from this era is 1980’s “Over You.” Ferry glides through the trance-like groove with the mantra “Wish I was somewhere/Over You.” until he starts ascending into the ether, leaving his fickle lover behind, soaring higher through glaze and gloss. Then the song fades out and Ferry starts the act again. This approach can get wearing, especially if you don’t believe that tears-in-my-caviar heartbreak is a spiritual quest. But when Bryan’s on, as in Manifesto’s Dance Away or Flesh + Blood’s Oh Yeah, its impossible not to fall for him.”
Jonathan Rigby praised the second single from the album, writing “If Dance Away achieved Ferry’s long-held ambition and became accepted as a modern standard, it’s hard to see why the same accolade has yet to be bestowed on Oh Yeah, which is perhaps the most limpidly beautiful ballad in his portfolio.”
Allmusic.com in its review states “The sequence of exquisite singles that Roxy Music rattled off as the late ’70s became the early ’80s was highlighted by any number of songs which, dispassionately, could be ranked among Bryan Ferry’s purest pop visions yet. “Oh Yeah” surely edges them all, however, not only for its own understanding of the genre’s traditions (an everyday story of boy meets girl, in car with radio), but also via its reinvention over a decade later, when London Suede borrowed both a lyric and the mood for their own The Wild Ones.”