For Your Pleasure

A song-by-song analysis of the lyrics and music of Roxy Music and the solo work of Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera in the 1970s


In Search of Eddie Riff

In Search of Eddie Riff, Andy Mackay (1974)

In early Fall 1973, just before the recording of The Third Roxy Music Album Stranded, the members of Roxy Music were reviewing career options following the departure of their friend and musical ally Brian Eno. Phil Manzanera voted to continue (“I hadn’t had my fill yet of being in a rock n roll band yet”). Andy Mackay, a founding member of the group, was skeptical yet pragmatic. He considered joining Mott the Hoople – playing sax on the Top 10 hit ‘All the Way to Memphis‘ – but could sense a stylistic difference and, besides, Mott was not as stable a proposition as the mighty Roxy (Mott broke up a year later). Andy decided to say with Roxy Music, though pointing out, with characteristic honesty “It wasn’t the happiest time in Roxy’s history.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Mackay wrote the music for fan favourite ‘A Song for Europe‘, in addition to receiving co-credit on Roxy hits ‘Love is the Drug‘ (1975) and ‘Angel Eyes‘ (1979), plus Country Life and Siren album highlights ‘Three and Nine’,Bitter-Sweet‘, and ‘Sentimental Fool’. A much-loved musical collaborator and session musician, Mackay had stunning success writing and producing the the music for the UK hit television series Rock Follies and Rock Follies of ’77, a project that was not only an artistic success but also – crucially – a financial one. This breakthrough provided Mackay independence from the Roxy brand and the freedom to pursue his musical and personal, spiritual interests (see: Psalm Part 1 for more background and a review of Andy’s solo 3 Psalms work).

‘In Search of Eddie Riff’, then, was a project intended to provide Mackay a break from the hectic Roxy schedule and a release from the tensions of the past year. With Eno gone and Roxy management wanting to keep the good times rolling, Andy could take advantage of the conciliatory terms (co-credits being one of them) and the lower studio recording costs offered by label bosses Island Records for their Island Recording Studio on Basing Street.

Responding to the success Bryan Ferry enjoyed with his solo album hit record These Foolish Things – and taking note of Ferry’s use of favorite tracks from the Great American Songbook – the original intention of In Search of Eddie Riff arose “from a desire to play some relatively uncomplicated saxophone with friends – a kind of musical autobiography.” So taken with the idea of creating a solo identify, Andy started calling himself ‘Eddie Riff’ in interviews and indeed announced to the music press ,that he was, in fact, “changing my name to Eddie Riff” (Rigby, 85). Never one to be left behind before the party, Andy explained the reasoning for inventing his own Ziggy Stardurst-style persona:

The actual name comes from the days of my first band at college, jazzers and R’n’B rockers, and I was amongst the latter. We never really had a good vocalist, so we’d rely on instrumentals, and every time we got towards the middle of a song, the jazzers would always want to take solos. I was never allowed one [a solo], so I used to just riff in the background all the time. So Eddie Riff (Edward is my middle-name) became my personality as a saxophone player.

Andy Mackay

Clearly, Andy was aware that he had work to do to establish his own identity as musician and personality outside of Roxy Music that would match the strong public profiles of Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry (hell, everyone was creating fluid identifies in the early 70s). Certainly Mackay looked and played the part: as one writer put it “Since Eno’s ousting, Mackay was undoubtedly the band’s most photogenic face – after Ferry – and his saxophone playing was perhaps the most distinct component of the [Roxy Music] sound” (Stump, 284).

The scene then, was set: solo career in the bag and independence to pursue non-Roxy musical interests. Only, it didn’t quite work out that way: for many, Mackay’s first solo album In Search of Eddie Riff was a uninspired effort, “lackluster” and “rarely more than pure padding” (Paul Stump). Seems “like Muzak” said the NME‘s John Ingham – “perhaps if he could persuade supermarkets and [hamburger] bars to play over their music systems” (Ingham, quoted in Rigby).

To be fair to Mackay, the original intention for the recording arose “from a desire to play some relatively uncomplicated saxophone with friends.” The critics, on the other hand, wanted Mackay to test the musical waters a little more, in the manner of Eno’s Here Comes the Warm Jets or Ferry’s deconstructing Dylan (‘A Hard Rain’s a’ Gonna Fall‘).

Introducing Guest Writer Oliver Whawell

In order to see if there is more than meets the eye regarding In Search of Eddie Riff we have invited a Roxy friend to expand on why the record might actually be a hidden gem: please welcome Oliver Whawell – guitarist, saxophonist, pianist, composer, founder member of The Strawberry Thieves. Oliver believes he is “one of a handful of people who have a legitimate and quantifiable claim to be Andy Mackay’s greatest fan”. Who better to write, then, the month’s blog entry on Andy Mackay’s first solo record – an essay Oliver decided to call “In Defense of Eddie Riff”.

I: In Defence of Eddie Riff

Written by Oliver Whawell

Full disclosure – I am one of a handful of people who have a legitimate and quantifiable claim to be Andy Mackay’s greatest fan! There are more than a few saxophonists who have started playing the instrument because of Andy (Lee Thompson from Madness being probably the most famous) but people like Lee Sullivan (who also provided the artwork for the Three Psalms album) and myself went one step further and have also played in Roxy Music tribute bands – I even went so far as to learn the oboe! I have lived and breathed Andy Mackay for over 30 years.

When I was a young teenager (around 1987) I owned the sheet music for Roxy Music’s first Greatest Hits album – my dad had all of the Roxy and Bryan Ferry records – and at the back of the book all the albums were advertised, and for the first time I became aware of “Diamond Head” and “In Search of Eddie Riff”. It is impossible to describe my feelings – I loved Roxy Music with a passion, but as much as I adored Bryan Ferry’s lyrics, the songs I was always drawn to featured Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay heavily, and the songs I liked most were the co-writes. My dad had no knowledge of these solo albums, and no real interest to be fair, so it became my personal obsession.

Very shortly afterwards I stumbled on my first Record Fair. I was in town on my own, paid my 50p entry, and entered a new world. I found most of the Roxy Music singles and discovered “b sides” I’d never heard of with magical titles like; “The Numberer”, “The Pride and the Pain”, “Hula Kula”, as well as the solo albums “Diamond Head” and “In Search of Eddie Riff” – but I didn’t have nearly enough money on me. I asked the sellers to put them by for me and checked that I would be allowed re-entry into the fair – and then with a burst of adrenalin and a long-distance feat never since equalled I ran home and pleaded with dad to come back to town with me. Bless him, he didn’t just come – he made the decision there and then that the Roxy Music collection would be “his” and he bought all the singles that we could find, and I bought the solo albums with my pocket money and started a collection that is essentially complete now.

We went home and had a glorious afternoon listening to all the singles – both A and B sides and the solo albums. I was in love. There is no better word for it. I could already play the sax parts on all the Roxy records but on “Eddie RiffAndy Mackay was able to let loose and I spent hours playing along to the album and doing my utmost to upset the neighbours; a tenor sax played by an enthusiastic teenager is not quiet.

Some time later I discovered that Andy wasn’t happy with the original release of the album, that he felt the vocal tracks didn’t work, and that there was a re-release with additional tracks on it. Tracking down a vinyl copy of the re-release took me over twenty-five years and by happy chance I found it whilst touring with Roxy Musique in a second-hand music store in Brighton, but back in the late 1980s I found a copy of it in Soho. In this particular shop (to prevent theft) only the sleeves were out for customers to browse and the vinyl itself was kept behind the counter. I was leafing through “Roxy Music plus solo” and found “Eddie Riff”. I turned it around and my heart leapt into my mouth it was the re-issue and it only cost £5! I took the sleeve to the desk and the after just a few moments the man came back with a shattered vinyl disk. I was devastated – in fact so devastated that it was only when I sitting on the train on the way home that I realised I hadn’t even had the presence of mind to ask to keep the now value-less sleeve.

II. An Die Musik

So, the record itself – and I’m listening to it as I write – is it any good? Should Roxy Music fans own it?

Well – if you like Roxy Music the chances are that you appreciate well played saxophone, and there is a lot of very fine sax playing on the album. All of the Roxy personnel are present with the exception of BF – Phil Manzanera, Paul Thompson and Eddie Jobson all contribute with the panache and musicality that we would expect of them but it most emphatically ISN’T a Roxy Music record.

Bryan Ferry’s “vision”, for want of a better word, runs through the Roxy catalogue – I think using a cake as an analogy is the simplest way to explain what I’m getting at. Bryan Ferry, I believe, knows what he wants the cake to look like and his voice is the “frosting” on the cake – but the rhythm section is the “sponge” itself – and musicians like Paul Thompson and John Gustafson produced one of the finest “sponges” ever. Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay and Eddie Jobson provide the tasty additional layers that make each “mouthful” worth savouring. So “Eddie Riff” then is Roxy Music without the Bryan Ferry “frosting” – in the same way that “These Foolish Things” is Roxy Music without the Eno and Andy Mackay “layers”. Listen to “In Your Mind” with critical ears and the crucial importance of the Andy Mackay “layer” in the Roxy Music “cake” is clearly evident.

In 1974 Roxy Music were massive. “Stranded” had gone to number 1 in the UK charts and Bryan Ferry had successfully embarked on a solo career. I’ve read that this caused some consternation in the Roxy camp (to put it mildly) and in a nutshell AM and PM felt they had to keep up with BF so that they weren’t just perceived as backing musicians – in effect they were positioning themselves as a super-group: successful solo artists in their own right who chose to come together to be Roxy Music.

Bryan Ferry was already the prime composer for Roxy so his solo outings were essentially a trawl through his record collection – and he applied successfully his principle that covers should either be as faithful as possible to the original, or as different as possible. Andy Mackay’s first solo outing was both an outlet for his compositions as well as a chance to cover some songs he (or his first wife Jane) loved. The original release serves as a musical biography. There are two classical melodies: “Ride of the Valkyries” (a link back to Re-Make/Re-model) which is “as different as possible” and “An Die Musik” (Andy Music of course!) which is “as faithful as possible”. Then we have the pop song covers: “The End of the World” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” are both faithful and in my opinion “work” as well as say Bryan’s versions of “Tracks of My Tears” or “I Love How You Love Me”.

The original compositions on the albums though are harder to talk about: “Walking the Whippet” is a good fun “romp” I’d guess – all the musicians are clearly having fun with it and it is perhaps the most humorous song in the entire Roxy oeuvre. Lloyd Watson (later to play on 801 Live) is the star here. I’ll be honest though – I didn’t like it much as a teenager and felt it let the album down. “The Hour Before Dawn” on the other hand I adored – it felt like Roxy – and it felt like Roxy didn’t need BF to be Roxy! It is a simple and beautiful composition and stands on its own merits. As a teenager I performed it on a sax with just a piano backing and it worked perfectly.

“Past, Present and Future” (later retitled “Pyramid of Night”) is the most ambitious work on the album  – it is an extended work in three sections and “does what is says on the tin” starting with baroque/classical allusions with some success before attempting to overcome a tautological problem – music of the present is all well and good, but by definition will quickly become dated, and finding the music of an imagined future is the pursuit of all true artists. I struggled to like it as a teenager – but now rate it very highly. It sits with the other most musically ambitious tracks of early Roxy like ‘A Song for Europe‘ and ‘Bittersweet‘ in my opinion.

Before coming to the re-issue I should talk about the vocal tracks. One original song “Summer Sun” and one cover “A Four Legged Friend” which Andy recorded for his first wife Jane who was a country music fan. “A Four Legged Friend” is fun – in the same way that Bryan Ferry’s “You are My Sunshine” isn’t! That isn’t to say that either of them is good or bad. I think you just have to be in the right mood to appreciate them. “Summer Sun” is a good, straight forward pop song – unfortunately marred by TOO MUCH REVERB on Andy’s vocal.

And so, the re-issue removed the vocal tracks and replaced them with the single “Wild Weekend”, a faithful but updated version of a “sax rave up” in Andy’s words, a Mackay/Eno co-write “Time Regained” which is musically successful and a precursor for Eno’s ambient albums, and a cover of “The Long and Winding Road” – which doesn’t work for me at all sadly. Personally, I’d have given the song the same treatment as “The Hour Before Dawn” but instead Andy goes for the “as different as possible” approach. I love the album – but it is a mess. But in the end – isn’t that what love is all about?

Thanks to Kevin for letting me “defend” Eddie Riff! Perhaps he’ll give me another go for Andy’s second solo album “Resolving Contradictions” (1978)… !

Credits: With permission this month we cribbed two of Fly Garrikk‘s images from Glamazona Roxy Music – Fly does great treatments of classic Roxy photos – a highly recommended and fun site; the three column Andy Mackay by roxymusicsongs; Oliver Whawell photo and gallery; front cover LP Roxy Music’s Greatest Hits (1977); back cover LP In Search of Eddie Riff; an online tee-shirt offering of Eddie Riff.

A special thank you to Oliver for his fun celebration of ‘In Search of Eddie Riff’. Oliver was inspired to play the sax by Andy Mackay but like Andy also had a classical training having both a music degree and a diploma in classical piano. The Strawberry Thieves is Oliver Whawell’s new project focusing on his own music rather than being “Andy Mackay” in Roxy Music tribute bands.

Strawberry Thieves recommended playlist:

Master of Disguise from the first Strawberry Thieves album Interior Design. This song was composed like a BF Roxy song in that the music came before the words.

One Love from the second album, Chill Out! A track that highlights Oliver’s Roxy-influenced quirky yet melodic song writing.

Can We Do It Again This song has echoes of the True Wheel by Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno, as well as hints of Both Ends Burning.



Psalm – Part 1

Psalm (1973)
Psalm (Live, 1974)

Once I get on stage I throw myself totally into it and when I get off I’m drained. That’s what any emotional kind of singer ought to do anyway
Bryan Ferry

I. Stars on Sunday

A serious contender for the strangest Roxy Music track in the band’s catalogue, ‘Psalm‘ is both epic in its formal construction (i.e., “a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition”); its length (8 minutes plus), and its sheer gall and inspired frazzle: at the height of 1973’s pop music explosion, the high-priests of Glam concluded the first side of their #1 chart-topping album Stranded with a Church-going, preacher-waving, God-fearing sermon.  The result – depending on who you ask – is classic Roxy Music, delivering an authentic band performance that manages to be both ironic, unironic, moving, inspired, and downright frustrating all in one go.

Legend it that ‘Psalm’ is the one of the “first things” that composer Bryan Ferry wrote, but this isn’t quite true: ‘Psalm’ was considered for Roxy Music, but did not make the cut. (Ferry: “‘Psalm’ was one of the songs I’d started on during the making of the first Roxy Music album but had never finished”). In addition to, presumably, the matter of those “12 different futures” (Eno) already being defined and sequenced to satisfaction. Next record For Your Pleasure already had a monster track that took up a quarter album (‘The Bogus Man‘ at +9 minutes). And so it was left to the time-pressured Stranded sessions for ‘Psalm’ to finally find a home.

Within the context and aural soundscape of Stranded, ‘Psalm’ is a success, appealing to both head and heart both as formal prototype (musical psalm) and as a vehicle of emotional transcendence (church prayer). Last month (Dec 2020) we discussed the jungle-heated track ‘Amazona‘ and noted that Stranded was as every bit as experimental as Brian Eno’s first solo recording Here Come the Warm Jets (Eno even using five of six members of the early Roxy Music team). Admittedly, it’s difficult to imagine a more staid musical event than a ‘Stars on Sunday’ church sermon and call it experimental, and many critics certainly were underwhelmed by the inclusion/intrusion of ‘Psalm’ on an otherwise successful rock record:

Psalm’ is a very odd liturgy with its Blackpool pier organ and doctored harmonica sound, but it’s hard to sustain interest over eight minutes on the strength of bizarre-ness alone (Melody Maker / Watts).

Psalm’, a protracted prayer of sorts that, along with ‘Sunset’ on Side two, provide the lower points on the album (Shakin’ Street Gazette / Sperrazza).

Psalm’, Ferry’s contribution to God-Rock, is the most obscure nine minutes on the album, building inevitably through a never-ending sequence, collecting heavenly choirs, weirdly-filtered violin, and a couple of Andy MacKays en route, but without reaching, a convincing resolution. (New Musical Express/ Ian MacDonald)

Yet including ‘Psalm’ on Stranded makes sense, as Roxy at this point were making bold choices: Stranded is wonderfully inventive in its presentation of a variety of musical forms – from cod-reggae (‘Amazona‘), to romantic ballad (‘Just Like You‘), hard rock (‘Street Life‘), ambient folk-song (‘Sunset)’ – all wrapped in a rich, beautifully recorded ambience. Michael Bracewell (Re-make/Re-model: Becoming Roxy Music) confirms for us Bryan Ferry’s observation that “Roxy Music did not possess a particular ‘style’; but rather, in their mix of music and the visual imagery, bring together many different styles into a new synthesis(Bracewell). In short, ‘Psalm’ is not so far from Brian Eno’s insanity music as contemporary writers would have supposed – you just had to live with it a bit.

II. My Sweet Lord

This idea of merging religion and pop music was well established by 1973: famously, George Harrison had a huge hit with my ‘My Sweet Lord‘ three years previously in 1970 (which, unfortunately, culminated in the humiliating spectacle of Harrison peddling the song on acoustic guitar in a packed London courtroom to disprove a plagiarism charge (Lennon: “He walked right into it. He knew what he was doing”)). Before ‘My Sweet Lord’ there was ‘Can I Get A Witness’ by Marvin Gaye (At 16 weeks, “Can I Get a Witness” lasted longer than any other Marvin Gaye entry on the Hot 100 during the 1960s); as had ‘People Get Ready‘ by The Impressions’; ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ by Bob Dylan, and so on. After ‘My Sweet Lord’ there was Talking Heads (‘Take Me to the River’/’Heaven’); Talk Talk (‘Spirit of Eden’/’I Don’t Believe in You’); and lots and lots more Bob Dylan (‘Blood on the Tracks’/etc). There was also the ‘Book of Moses’ by Tom Waits, and, my own personal favorite, ‘Let Jesus Make You Breakfast’ by BR549. Make that two eggs sunny-side up, please.

And Ferry too had flirted with the sacred in his music: ‘If There is Something‘ uses devotional prayer – heightened and exaggerated – as the narrator raises his arms to the heavens: “I would do anything for you/I would climb mountains/I would swim all the oceans blue/I would put roses round our door/Sit in the garden/Growing potatoes by the score”. Devotion mixed with humor; ironic in a way that ‘Psalm’ would never be – sitting in the garden, the poet sees himself magnified, a modern Adam courting his Eve. To seal the deal, the voice cracks, bursting with Evangelical passion:

Shake your hair girl with your ponytail
Takes me right back (when you were young)
Throw your precious gifts into the air
Watch them fall down (when you were young)
Lift up your feet and put them on the ground
You used to walk upon (when you were young)
Lift up your feet and put them on the ground
The hills were higher (when we were young)
Lift up your feet and put them on the ground
The trees were taller (when you were young)
Lift up your feet and put them on the ground
The grass was greener (when you were young)
Lift up your feet and put them on the ground
You used to walk upon (when you were young)

A very beautiful sequence that carries the scent of the sacred about it, especially so if you have been with an audience during a live performance, hands in the air, remembering when the hills, trees, and grass were higher, taller, greener.

III. Is There a Heaven?

Ferry’s next ecclesiastical outing was ‘In Every Dream Home, A Heartache‘, an altogether more creepy examination of the crippled modern psyche and its relationship to spirituality. Our narrator is the hypothetical ‘man who has everything’ – opulent home, private swimming pool, the must-have inflatable doll (“lover ungrateful”). The four-bar chord progression is replete with church cinema organ and ominous overtones. The voice is reverent, the confession modern:

In every dream home a heartache
And every step I take
Takes me further from heaven
Is there a heaven?
I’d like to think so

Explicitly theological in his outlook, the narrator moves past a belief in God (“Is there a heaven?”) towards secular living, the new god of materialism. What is interesting is that Ferry positions the religious question in the very first stanza – acknowledging not so much a personal view (though this might have been the case) but certainly a musical one: the Hippies and Haight Ashbury had reached their zenith and were on decline by 1969, and Jesus had become a post-Woodstock pop character in the counterculture scene, peaking with the commercial Jesus Christ Superstar (musical, double-album, film. Over a quarter $ billion sold). Three years later, Roxy Music occupied the void left behind by flower-power, incense, and ‘Spirit in the Sky’, injecting a much needed dose of sleazy realism and salacious decadence into the question of personal worship:

The cottage is pretty
The main house a palace
Penthouse perfection
But what goes on
What to do there
Better pray there

No lines better describes modern times than this: the citizens of our age, seeking pleasure at the expense of intellectual and emotional growth, pray to false Gods, or fail to pray to any god, believing instead in fool’s gold (“the main house a palace”), and technological and consumer advances (“penthouse perfection”). The ominous “but what goes on?” chills us in the age of Trump and Jeffrey Epstein as we lack the imagination to find anything of substance to do in our palaces – and so we lash out in boredom and anger. The narrator suggests we “better pray”, for he senses a world of pain approaching on the horizon (and boy, did it land in 2020). The need to worship is embedded in the human psyche, Ferry seems to say, but what now, “What to do there?” This vision predates by nearly fifty years the super-slick television narrative ‘American Gods‘ – an entertainment that revels in the theological and mythic, honing in on the “really modern, occasionally very tacky, underbelly” of the West. Pleasure/Stranded-era Roxy Music, you might say, in a nutshell.

IV. Believe in Me

From ironic to demonic, Ferry’s lyrical intent with the ‘Psalm‘ feels like a movement away from character portrait (‘If There is Something) and heavy messaging (‘Dream Home), towards the purely musical. Yes, there’s a televangelist power statement bubbling beneath the surface – “look Ma! I can make them dress up and dance and sing and listen to church hymns!” – but really ‘Psalm’ is less a statement of ego or intellect and more a summons to experience the transformative power of music.

As was the case with previous album For Your Pleasure, the themes of transformation and perception continue into Stranded, furthering the idea that nothing engages our senses more than the age-old practices of sex, drugs, music, cinema, the church, and art. Stranded presents for its audience a brave new world of possibility and change: the Roxy Music state-of-mind as prophesized in ‘Virginia Plain‘ has arrived. During ‘Street Life‘ our sketchy tour guide (“come on with me cruising down the street”) has an epiphany of such force that it borders on the religious (“now I’m blinded I can really see”). ‘Just Like You‘ uses the language of alchemy to woo the fickle “quicksilver” lover, but she’s having none of it. Like the weather, everything changes – iron turns to gold, hot turns to cold, beauty turns to dust, and courtly love achieves levels of Shakespearean pathos. The playful ‘Amazona‘ turns from funk-fest to put-downs, feeling like a heroin buzz might, with its “no doubt/no fall-out” dream state. “Is something wrong?” our tour guide asks, ridiculing our dreams and delusions of paradise (“Castles in Spain”). We are stranded between life and art – death chomps at our heels (“the bell-tower rings/tolls a hollow sound”). We long for life everlasting. We long for evermore. Is there a heaven? The tour guide takes our hand: “Why don’t you step through the mirror and see?”

Getting closer
Soon you’ll see
Journey’s over
We’re almost there!


We are ready then – if we so choose – to take the necessary leap of faith across the pale horizon. And so we arrive at the Church doors, ready for observance and change, ready for a new idea, a new thrill, lover, experience. (“Try out your God…”).

Believe in the artist. Believe in the art.

Next:Psalm – Part 2′:  precisely drawn and transformative, ‘Psalm’ marks the beginning of a change in Ferry’s writing, a change that will lead us from the dense lyrical conceits of Stranded towards the condensed word pictures of Avalon

Credits: Bryan with a little Brian on his shoulder,; sleeve for Impressions single ‘People Get Ready‘; Bryan Ferry with Roxy Music, ‘Psalm’ live, 1974; Satan, as drawn by Gustave Doré, in John Milton‘s Paradise Lost; ‘Sinners Welcome’: title credits American Gods, artist Patrick Claire

Coda: 3 Psalms, by Andy Mackay.

In 2017, Roxy Music saxophonist (solo artist, producer, educator and author) Andy Mackay was diagnosed with throat cancer. He had been suffering low-level discomfort for some eighteen months, until one horrible day he coughed up blood – a terrifying moment that eventually brought him to St. Mary’s Hospital, London, to undergo robotic cancer treatment (transoral robotic surgery) and remove the tumor from the middle of his throat (Mackay/IPH). The experience lead the multi-talented Roxy Music co-founder to complete the solo work 3 Psalms, a three-movement symphony he had begun working on over 20 years previously in the mid-90s, “a time in the world, and in my personal life, of a lot of change and turmoil” (Churchtimes).

At the time that ‘Psalm’ was written circa 1971 by Bryan Ferry, Mackay and Ferry shared a flat in London, plotting together the Roxy Music manifesto, recruiting new members (Eno, Manzanera, Thompson) and dreaming together a possible future in music. A year later both men were on their way to achieving their goals. And while Bryan Ferry took the lion’s share of exposure and solo recognition during Roxy’s first magnificent phase (1972-1975),  it was Andy Mackay that served – you felt – as the quality control lead of the band. This has nothing to do with religion or the definition and sharing of song-writing credits: Mackay’s slightly dour but prescient insights into the band revealed him to be the George Harrison of the group – massively gifted but endlessly oppressed by the shining brilliance of the band’s main headliner(s), rendered grumpy by the perverse reductionism of the press, of management, of the superficiality of a rock-star life that was blind to spiritual expression and truths.

Watching the clip of Psalm performed by Roxy Music on Musikladen in 1974, you feel Andy Mackay’s musical taste and sensitivity in full reveal, as he plays the keyboards and oboe, and contributes the feel and tone of the piece, like a guiding hand. This nurturing is all over Stranded – calm and attentive, culminating in the exquisite ‘Song For Europe’.

Please take a moment to give 3 Psalms a listen: Andy’s solo work links to the themes and musical freedoms of Roxy Music: exploring, taking chances, never settling.

3 Psalms Links:

Andy Mackay on Roxy Music and his proggy new solo album

Andy Mackay talks religion, life & music

3 Psalms: A Conversation with Andy Mackay