A few weeks ago, I was listening Bryan Ferry‘s Bête Noire album, enjoying the sensuous beats of songs like The Right Stuff and Limbo, remembering seeing the album’s tour in August 1988, which I still rate as the best concert I have ever seen, and generally reveling in the mood. It brought back specific memories that sort of made me think, “maybe I’m a bit old for this now.”
Then it occurred to me that Ferry wasn’t a whole lot younger than I am now when he recorded the album. And really, Ferry and Roxy Music’s work has always been rather adult; not much puppy love or teen angst here. It’s music that ages well.
And now, at 69, Ferry has proved that again with his latest album, Avonmore. Some tracks on the new release such as One Night Stand seem to echo right out of the Bête Noire era with an insistent beat and smooth vocal. Loop De Li opens the with a title that sounds ridiculous, but a delivery that comes across as cool as a white dinner jacket.
But the tour de force is a total remaking of Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns. The song has always been a meditation on human folly from someone who’s been around long enough to recognize it. Couched in Ferry’s beat, flourishes and unflappable delivery, that perspective is a guy who is going to take stylish cool right into his 70s.
What is not aging well is the music of The Hunger Games series. When the first movie came out in 2012, it was accompanied by a T Bone Burnett soundtrack that echoed the real region where the post-apocalyptic story is set and remained surprisingly earthy for the big names on the project such as Taylor Swift and Arcade Fire.
The Mockingjay soundtrack was curated by Lorde, and while it carries the heavy tone of the series’ current chapter, it is rarely engaging outside the quite brilliant Lorde centerpiece, Yellow Flicker Beat.