On Saturday I watched More Than This: The Roxy Music Story. I’m certain the BBC only have the one narrative arc for these rockumentaries, interspersing the talking heads with stock footage of Thatcher, the Miner’s Strike, football hooligans or the generalised white dog shit Britain of the 1970s, as chronologically appropriate. The social realist rags to outrageous riches yarn is British pop music’s favourite bedtime story and Bryan Ferry’s is pretty outré, “escaping” Tyne and Wear for art college, then London, Jerry Hall, Bel Air, Miss World, Marks and Spencer &c &c &c.
However, what interested me wasn’t so much the fabulously strange records of Roxy’s early career – Ladytron, Virginia Plain, In Every Dream Home a Heartache and Do the Strand – but their other lineage, the one that held vast appeal for the core 35 – 44 audience of medium wave radio stations specialising in smooth, contemporary classics. During my early nineties childhood, grotesqueries like Dance Away, Avalon and More Than This were still in heavy rotation on Yorkshire Coast Radio. As the hiss n’ crackle soundtrack to summers spent in a tourer caravan on the coast of Filey, those records, along with Weather With You by Crowded House, Spandau Ballet’s True, Hazard by Richard Marx and Save the Best for Last by Vanessa Williams, still smell of car sick, soft furnishings and boredom. And I’ll never be able to associate them my Dad’s copy of Virginia Plain on lilac 7”, which was the mainstay of our front room discos on nights that mum was at work.