I’ve always thought Bryan Ferry’s music sounds like the score of the Miami vice TV show. The brooding ‘Loop de Li’ with its snippets of saxophone and funk guitars and the action-film lyrics of “I’m a soldier of fortune/An ambassador of pain” on ‘Soldier of Fortune’ could fit right in with the glitzy cops. As well as this, Ferry’s typically remarkable voice is always present, trembling and seductive as it has been since the seventies.
It’s not too shabby an album. If, that is, you don’t look at the roster of collaborators Ferry acquired for it. Todd Terje, Mark Knopfler, Johnny Marr, Flea, Nile Rodgers all featured – but where? All bar Nile Rodgers (whose guitar sound is unmissable) and Terje are invisible. It’s an anti-climax. It should have been so much more. “Soldier of Fortune”, co-written by Marr, is appallingly average for two bastions of British music. If it wasn’t for Ferry’s press release, I wouldn’t have been any the wiser for the other collaborators involvement.
Avonmore does hold some promise though in Ferry’s relationship with Todd Terje. Terje seems to be Ferry’s new sonic experimentalist and virtuoso musician. A role that, when played by Brian Eno, brought out the best in Ferry and created the highpoints of Roxy Music. ‘Send in the Clowns’ and ‘Johnny and Mary’ are Terje and Ferry’s relationship at its peak.
‘Johnny and Mary’ originally appeared on Terje’s sublime debut It’s Album Time and it works as well here as it did there. The Scandinavian cool of Terje melds perfectly with Ferry’s husky whisper. It sounds like Chariots of Fire but with less slow-mo running and more foot tapping in fine Italian loafers.
It is these two covers that work best on the album, the perfect mix of glamorous and grandiose that has defined Ferry for decades. Maybe if it continues to grow, Terje and Ferry’s relationship can push the ex-Roxy man into the more exhilarating areas rather than the middle of the road output of previous years.