Bitter-Sweet (2018) - Bryan Ferry - All about the album

Talk about an album by the legendary Bryan Ferry.....

Bryan Ferry's album "Bitter-Sweet" (2018)

Yes, there is still some powder in the powders, and this was perfectly demonstrated by British musician, singer and world-class star Bryan Ferry. In an hour-long album he managed to put his whole creative journey into it. This is how the new album of the Roxy Music leader "Bitter-Sweet" was perceived.

A creative journey of half a century

Bryan Ferry is known as the co-founder and leader of the famous band Roxy Music. Together with the band, he recorded almost a dozen albums, three of which managed to climb to the top of the British charts. More than 20 singles of the singer became successful. Brian started his solo career in the band. He has 12 albums and nearly 40 singles to his credit.

Bryan Ferry.
Bryan Ferry.

He never intended to leave the big stage, and the latest album is a testament to that. The secret of the success of the legendary band and the singer himself can be expressed by the famous phrase of Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister: "It's a riddle inside a riddle wrapped up in a riddle". However, we may not be able to solve it, and should we? It is better to enjoy the music.

These half a century have not been lived by Bryan Ferry in vain: in the early 1970s, the unknown Roxy Music group recorded its first, debut album. There was no such thing as "new wave" yet, it was to be six years away, and the sound was already coming from the stage. Later, there would be bands for whom Roxy Music and its leader Bryan Ferry would become role models. They were Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and others who extolled Bryan as an icon or godfather of the "new wave".

Experts also spoke highly of Roxy Music's work. The band's music was regarded as art rock - a genre of experimental music with characteristic melodic or rhythmic experiments. "Roxy" were among those who were not afraid to experiment. The musicians turned the concert into a theatre and light show. They created a huge number of artistic images in their songs.

The leader of the band? The lead singer?

Bryan Ferry was not satisfied with the role of just a leader of a progressive band. He had time for everything - he had an active solo career, and in 1973 he recorded the album "These Foolish Things". At that time the album was received ambiguously by the singer's fans: the cover version of Bob Dylan's song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" alone is worth a lot, and there is also the track "These Foolish Things", which both immediately after the album was presented to the public and, according to some music critics, is still perceived as an exquisite mockery of the French pop music traditions.

Both as a member of a musical group and as a soloist, Bryan Ferry loved experimentation - a cover of Lennon's "Jealous Guy" performed by the Roxy, Ferry's solo songs are proof of that.

Brian in Russia
Bryan Ferry in Russia

Brian didn't just like pranks in his songs. What was he like? According to one version, he grew up in a family where they didn't even know what electricity was. There is another story - that Ferry's father was some eccentric lord. In reality, Bryan Ferry grew up in the family of a simple miner, who could not really afford to bring electricity into the house. And Brian himself began his working life as an ordinary labourer in the mine - a winch mechanic.

Listening to Ferry's songs, it's hard to believe it. But that's the point of his work: we hear beautiful arrangements, see a shiny dinner jacket, but what's inside is unknown to anyone but the musician himself. And this is not a deception, not an attempt to hide something unattractive behind a shiny cover.

Bitter or Sweet?

What's the point of all of the above? To understand the meaning of Bryan Ferry's solo album "Bitter-Sweet". In it, the musician and singer, the owner of a delightful and seductive voice, presented songs stylised in the spirit of jazz melodies of the 20s of the last century. 8 vocal tracks are included in the album, which was inspired by Brian's work in the TV series "Babylon - Berlin".

When working on the album, Brian does not descend into jokes and parody. He dives headfirst into the musical atmosphere of a century ago. The result is something masterpiece - impossible to describe in words. This amazing voice must be heard! This is serious music, not a light, unobtrusive motif that can be heard as a background.


As one music critic said, this is music that can be enjoyed while experiencing and suffering "for any non-fatal reason": you've been fired from your job, your beloved has left you - and you're already in a bar with a shot of cognac and a cigarette in your hand. Such a "bittersweet" cocktail: on the one hand, suffering and sadness, on the other - unobtrusive and pleasant music. Just what you need for such an occasion.

What does it sound like? What it was intended to be - music from the 1920s. But this is neither an attempt to return to the past, nor something ultra-new. The versatility of the new masterpiece (and there is no need to doubt it!) is that Bryan Ferry's album "Bitter-Sweet" should be appreciated by both lovers of retro-jazz and glam-rock of the last quarter of the 20th century.

Bitter-Sweet (2018) album cover.
Bitter-Sweet (2018) album cover.

It is a pity that time is inexorable. And 70+ years is a lot, although only with age comes true wisdom, understanding and taste of life. The new album is proof of that. It shows Brian's ability to balance between the serious and the comical, between "bitter" and "sweet", between "high music" - art for those who want to be considered the chosen ones - and what nowadays is called "poppy" postmodernism.

Don't try to find something in Brian's songs that isn't there. Just listen to the songs from the new album "Bitter-Sweet" - and enjoy the creative experiment, which, as always, succeeded the venerable musician.

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