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DVD Review: More Than This: The Story of Roxy Music

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Written by Caballero Oscuro

One of the most influential bands of all time, Roxy Music gets a well-deserved and expertly produced career retrospective in this new DVD. Originally broadcast by the BBC in late 2008, the documentary covers the entire active recording career of the band as well as their recent reunions. The DVD expands on the original broadcast with nearly a half hour of additional interviews, as well as three previously unreleased live tracks from a 2006 London concert.

The film is endorsed by and features new interviews with all of the principal players in the band, including early member Brian Eno. To flesh out their legacy with outside perspectives, the film includes exclusive interviews with other music luminaries inspired by the band including Bono, John Taylor (Duran Duran), Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Siouxsie Sioux, and Nile Rodgers (Chic). The production team’s exhaustive research also led to inclusion of interviews with the band’s cover photographer for all of their album covers, the cover model from the first album (still looking good over 35 years later), and legendary studio engineer Bob Clearmountain among others. With this unprecedented level of artist, acolyte, and associate participation, More Than This is almost certain to be the definitive document of the band.

The band was formed in the early '70s by art school grad Bryan Ferry as an outlet for him to make “weird music for art school students” with little thoughts to fame, fortune, or conformity. Their flamboyant emergence on the UK scene signaled the dawn of art rock, but also acted as a direct predecessor for the soon-to-come punk and new wave movements. Steve Jones and Bono comment that the band’s early work had a huge influence on the punk movement, while John Taylor exposes how their glam rock look dictated the fashion checklist for his future band: denim no, eyeliner yes.

Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry both talk candidly about Eno’s brief tenure in the band (he left before the third album), giving viewers valuable insight to the band’s politics of the time. The other members, especially drummer Paul Thompson, let on that Ferry may have feared being overshadowed by Eno, and Eno clearly indicates that they both had different musical directions they wished to take, but there don’t appear to be any deep-seated grudges on either side as the film also documents a historic recording session of new material by all of the original members including Eno in 2006.

The film follows a strictly chronological format from the band’s early days through their apparent end after the Avalon tour, using each album as a milestone. It also covers their reunions in the 2000s, nearly 20 years after their disbandment. Although their final original incarnation for the glossy, almost New Age Avalon album bears little resemblance to the gritty art rock sound they pioneered, their continuing evolvement throughout their career led to a passionate fanbase at each stage and clearly showed the strong direction of band founder Ferry. Clearmountain’s best sound bite comes when he reveals that he still gets far more compliments about Avalon than anything else he’s ever done, including Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. Regardless of which stage of the band you like the best, the film offers superb archival footage and new reminiscences that will expand your appreciation.

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