|Bryan Ferry - As Time Goes By|
|Written by Joe Wood|
The man behind one of the greatest make out albums of all time, Roxy Music’s Avalon, is still doing his part to keep lovers entwined, this time crooning classics from the early part of the past century. To those who know Bryan Ferry’s work, it should come as no surprise that he has climbed on board the big bandwagon. Since the early 1970s, he has dabbled in jazz standards, as evidenced on These Foolish Things (1973), Another Time, Another Place (1974), Bete Noire (1987), and Taxi (1993).
Despite his love of the genre, however, Ferry’s latest take on the music of the 1930s is underwhelming. His reorchestrations of songs by the likes of Rogers & Hart and Cole Porter are not far from the originals, save for the use of his trademark synthesizer stylings. But, to his credit, Ferry has tapped some of Europe’s best jazz and big band musicians to back him up on the album, including Enrico Tomasso of Ray Gelato’s Giants who adds his flavorful trumpet throughout; Colin Good on piano; Alan Barnes on tenor sax; and guitarist Nils Solberg.
Vocally, Ferry’s renditions are admittedly appealing, just not terribly innovative. “As Time Goes By,” the opening title track, is delivered in a pleasantly lazy fashion that intertwines Ferry’s vibrato-riddled singing with Good’s soft and elegant piano work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “The Way You Look Tonight” bounces and strums in Djangoesque fashion and is the best song on the CD. With “I’m In The Mood For Love,” made famous by Little Rascal, Alfalfa Switzer, Ferry takes us through a tropical French vista of passion. And “Lover Come Back To Me,” one of the few nearly danceable numbers, has a New Orleans flair reminiscent of the Jez Hot Swing Club or The Flying Neutrinos.
Listening to this album, one gets the feeling that Ferry wants to capture the elegance and grace of Fred Astaire. He comes close. But, male vocals in the 1930s were stronger and conjured up visions of tuxedos and cocktails, whereas Ferry only manages sport jackets and wine. Still, it’s nice that he has chosen to stay away from the Louis Prima and Louis Jordan songbooks and pull some more elegant material from the great swing era. Fans of classic jazz will want to add this one to their collection.