Rock & Roll Summer Reading
Re-make/Re-model: Becoming Roxy Musicby Michael Bracewell
Da Capo Press, 426 pp., $17.95 (paper)
For a book documenting the creation of a rock band, Re-Make/Re-Model assiduously limits its discussion of music. Author Michael Bracewell's primary interest in Roxy Music derives from his ongoing fascination with reinventive dandyism as an antidote to British austerity. Through exhaustive interviews with Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, and dozens of their art-school compatriots, Bracewell posits Roxy as the model art-rock band by virtue of its multidisciplinary ability to reconcile high art with camp. Readers may feel like they've been hoodwinked into a history of British art-school culture in the 1960s, but with Roxy Music's musical significance already well established, Bracewell's avenue of inquiry is illuminating if a tad ponderous at times. Ferry is alternately portrayed as a mild-mannered art student, a Northern Soul aficionado, and a steadfast visionary who ultimately realizes that pop music offers a much bigger mouthpiece than pop art. Young synth wizard Eno comes off as a principled agitator forever at odds with convention, a stance that would ultimately lead to his departure from Roxy Music. Re-Make ends with the release of the band's 1972 self-titled debut. Although this means we miss out on the fruits of Ferry's stylish reinvention, his influential template is worth knowing.