40 Years Ago: Bryan Ferry Ditches the Covers for ‘In Your Mind’
Practically from the start, Roxy Music and the glam rockers’ lead singer Bryan Ferry were running parallel careers. Because Ferry was the primary songwriter for the British band, his first two solo discs – 1973’s These Foolish Things and 1974’s Another Time, Another Place – consisted almost completely of covers. Lending his lounge lizard cool and a glam twist to “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” Ferry scored significant solo hits while his band was making acclaimed albums.
But in 1976, Roxy went on hiatus while Ferry’s record label rushed out the b-sides/singles compilation Let’s Stick Together to capitalize on the singer’s smash-hit version on the song of the same name. As that album was becoming his first solo album to chart in the United States, Ferry was hard at work on another LP that would take his career in a more Roxy-fied direction.
With his band on the shelf, Ferry not only was free to put his all into his solo material, he was able to employ some of his Roxy bandmates on the album’s sessions. Although the record doesn’t specify which musicians play on specific tracks, contributions were made to the album by three Roxy Music members – guitarist Phil Manzanera, drummer Paul Thompson and touring bassist John Wetton – meaning that most of the band’s pre-hiatus lineup took part in the sessions that would form In Your Mind.
In interviews Ferry had sometimes talked about preferring to work with hired hands, but other times talked about the benefits to recording with a steady band. On In Your Mind, he sort of had it both ways.
“There’s more tension. That’s one positive thing I see about the band situation… Since it’s a kind of shared project in as much as you’re sharing the cost of making the record, which nowadays can be an awful lot of money and studio time. Therefore you have a couple people there who are kind of pushing you,” Ferry said in 1983. “And if you… are working with session players, I find that since I work with people who I like anyway, they are going to give their best and not treat it as if it’s a jingle ... the people I work with tend to play with a lot of soul. But, at least, when it gets to the end of the day, they go home and it’s the end of the job.”
With some tracks spotlighting guitarist Chris Spedding and pianist/arranger Ann O’Dell and others featuring once (and future) Roxy members, it’s no wonder that critics and fans would consider In Your Mind both a full-fledged Ferry solo album and something of a follow-up to Roxy Music’s most recent LP, 1975’s Siren. Among the eight tracks, the album’s singles “This is Tomorrow” and “Tokyo Joe” – both big hits in the U.K. at Nos. 9 and 15, respectively – would have distinct similarities to Roxy’s brand of elegant rock.
Although Ferry planned to begin a world tour behind the album in late 1976, he had to postpone the British dates because work was not yet completed at London’s AIR Studios. But the finishing touches were quickly added and In Your Mind was released on Feb. 1, 1977.
Ferry’s first global tour without Roxy Music began right after the album became available. However, as with the LP, the singer was backed by a few Roxy guys: Manzanera on guitar, with Wetton and Thompson as the rhythm section. Spedding joined on guitar and O’Dell played keyboards. Of course, Bryan Ferry, in a shirt and tie, led the way.
Despite the majority of Roxy Music being present, Ferry mostly stayed faithful to his solo career, only performing the band’s “Casanova” (which he had re-recorded on his own in 1976 anyway) and international hit “Love Is the Drug.” Ferry and company trekked through Europe, Japan and North America, helping the glam crooner to his third solo gold album in the U.K. and his most successful album in the U.S. so far. But more success, for both Roxy and Ferry, was still to come.
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