Get Lit: Re-Make/Re-Model: Becoming Roxy Music by Michael Bracewell

Categories: Get Lit

Roxy Music emerged in 1971 out of art-school England. The first pop group to use artistic concepts such as collage in their music, Roxy helped define what would become known as art-rock, but at the time, they neatly completed glam-rock's glittering triad alongside David Bowie and T.Rex. Roxy influenced everyone from Bowie himself to the Sex Pistols and Scissor Sisters. Even today, Googling “Roxy Music” yields new band after new band citing them as an influence.

Named for the portentous first cut on Roxy Music’s self-titled 1972 debut, Michael Bracewell’s Re-Make/Re-Model offers a Proustian textbook examination into the formation of the concept behind Roxy Music rather than a more conventional look at the life of the band. Its begins in the 1950s and '60s, microscopically focused on the art and ideas being born and spontaneously taking seed at two art schools in England, well in advance of any eventual band members’ involvement in this web.

In fact, legendary drummer Paul Thompson and guitarist Phil Manzanera aren’t even mentioned until the book’s fourth quarter; instead, Bracewell follows the concepts of influential artists such as Richard Hamilton and the burgeoning development of postwar modern-art theory. However, for the band, art itself eventually became secondary because their most important influences at the time were the R&B and iconic symbolism coming out of America. It was from this self-propagating art-school nucleus that Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay and Brian Eno would emerge, and find their place in history.

Re-Make/Re-Model is best thought of as a valuable art-history text rather than a juicy band dish, and a thorough dissection of how Hamilton, Mark Lancaster, Teddy Boys, the Beats, the Mods, early American music icons and High Street tailors all spawned an climate of self-invention that culminated when Bryan Ferry’s brilliant vision came to life, and Roxy Music emerged, fully formed, as the most exotically beautiful man-eating butterfly in the entire music chain. - Paula Brown


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