40 Years Ago: Bryan Ferry Vows ‘Let’s Stick Together’
As Roxy Music was ascending in the ’70s, Bryan Ferry was running a parallel solo career – with nearly as much success. In 1973 and ’74, Roxy’s frontman put out a couple of covers records, bringing his icy cool to standards and glam energy to ’60s pop, folk and R&B. But Ferry’s third solo disc, Let's Stick Together, found him often covering… himself?
Nearly half of the tracks on Let’s Stick Together, which arrived in September 1976, have the singer remaking and remodeling songs he had originally recorded with Roxy Music – four of them from the band’s debut.
With Brian Eno out of the game, Ferry’s solo renditions are less “weird,” with a slicker R&B approach replacing the experimental rock tendencies of early Roxy. “2HB” turns a computer programmer’s nerdy obsession into a crooner’s laconic lament. “Sea Breezes” dives into a funky groove instead of a tense interlude. “Re-make/Re-model” rolls along soul revue-style, detached from the wiry energy of the original.
Elsewhere, Ferry gives the jazzy treatment to his pop and R&B heroes, covering songs by the Everly Brothers (“The Price of Love”), the Beatles (“It’s Only Love”) and Jimmy Reed (“Shame, Shame, Shame”). Yet the most notable selection would be Wilbert Harrison’s “Let’s Stick Together.”
Ferry chose to cover the original, boogie-woogie version of the song, and not Harrison’s “Let’s Work Together" rewrite (also recorded by Canned Heat). Switching out a honking saxophone for the blaring harmonica on the ’62 single, Ferry brought a rhythmic drive to the tune and scored the biggest hit of his solo career. “Let’s Stick Together” rocketed to No. 4 on the U.K. charts in June 1976.
It was the smashing success of that single that likely prompted the release of the album. With a batch of b-sides and EP material on its hands, Atco Records decided to patch a record out of the leftovers. You see, those Roxy remakes had appeared as b-sides to Ferry’s earlier solo singles, while “The Price of Love” and “Shame, Shame, Shame” were part of a four-track EP that was put out in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand (but not the States).
It’s not surprising that Let’s Stick Together was Ferry’s least successful U.K. album until 2010, because almost all of the material was already obtainable on singles and an EP. (Still, the release hit No. 19.) But in the U.S., where many of those songs were not available, Let’s Stick Together became Ferry’s first LP to chart (at No. 160).
With Roxy Music on hiatus until late-1978, Ferry continued to focus on his solo career and began writing more of his solo material, as opposed to solely attempting cover versions. But the song “Let’s Stick Together” (if not the album) remains one of his most popular solo releases on both sides of the Atlantic.
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