Tokyo Joe (no label)
Roxy Music is rightly considered one of the seminal artists of the early seventies. Brian Eno’s genius not only help propel the band into their unique vision, but also guided such luminaries as Robert Fripp and David Bowie as the decade wore on.
But Roxy Music could also never stray too far from Bryan Ferry’s gorgeous tenor. It came as no surprise that, in the mid-seventies, as Eno was occupied with his solo projects and working with other artists, that Ferry himself would forge ahead in his solo career.
Of course Ferry released solo albums almost from the beginning of his well known band, but his first three albums (These Foolish Things, Another Time Another Place and Let’s Stick Together) contained cover songs. In Your Mind, released in February 1977, is different because it contains only original compositions.
It also marked the start of touring as a solo artist. He played three shows in December 1974 in England, but beginning in late 1976 he took his own band on the road. Focusing on the UK, they eventually played seven dates in Australia, three in Japan and eight in the US.
The final day in Japan was June 9th when Ferry both videotaped an appearance on the “Young Music Show” and played a complete set at the Nakano Sun Plaza. Tokyo Joe contains both of these documents in very good to excellent quality and both are making their silver pressed debuts.
DVD, NHK 101 Studio, Tokyo, Japan – June 9th, 1977 (46:57): Let’s Stick Together, Shame Shame Shame, In Your Mind, Casanova, Love Me Madly Again, Love Is The Drug, Tokyo Joe, This Is Tomorrow, A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, The Price of Love
The “Young Music Show” was recorded live in the studio. There is applause between each track, but there is no evidence it is actually before a studio audience. The video quality is very clean. Like all broadcasts out of Japan the song titles are noted onscreen and translated lyrics accompany the song.
Ferry and the band play a set twenty minutes shorter than normal. The set begins with the two covers from his previous album, “Let’s Stick Together” and the Jimmy Reed tune “Shame, Shame, Shame,” but instead of drifting into “Road Runner” they play the title track from the latest album “In Your Mind.”
A full six minute version of “Love Me Madly Again” is featured with ample lens time to guitarist Chris Spedding. They follow with “Love Is The Drug,” perhaps Ferry’s most well-known tune. “Tokyo Joe” is a fitting tune to play (obviously), and after “This Is Tomorrow” they continue with a heartfelt version of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” The Bob Dylan cover was the first tune on his first solo album.
The encore is a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “The Price Of Love,” jazzed up and played as a screamer to end the show. It is a stunning visual document of Ferry’s early days as a solo performer. With the soulful and vulnerable vocals, introspective lyrics and fashion sense of Ferry’s skinny black tie, a blueprint for new wave leading into the next decade can be seen.
CD, Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – June 9th, 1977 (66:59): Let’s Stick Together, Shame Shame Shame, Road Runner, All Night Operator, Party Doll, You Go To My Head, Could It Happen To Me?, In Your Mind, Casanova, Love Me Madly Again, Love Is The Drug, Tokyo Joe, This Is Tomorrow, The ‘In’ Crowd, A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, The Price of Love
The audio document presents the old vinyl bootleg The Sting Of El Ferranti (Stimulator Records SLPS 1767) on silver disc for the first time. It contains a full concert played in the Nakano Sun-Plaza the evening after the videotaping at NHK sourced from a very good audience recording.
The label utilize what sounds like a mint copy of the original vinyl. There is no surface noise, but there is a break between the two sides of the vinyl LP, between “Casanova” and “Love Me Madly Again.”
Ferry’s setlist remains the same for the tour, a collection of covers from his first three solo albums, several tunes from his latest album In My Head, and reworked Roxy Music hits beginning with “Let’s Stick Together” and the Jimmy Reed blues “Shame Shame Shame.”
An early highlight is a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner.” Ferry’s version is based on the Jr. Walker arrangement and features a blistering saxophone by Chris Mercer. He’s so enthusiastic he busts a few reeds along the way. Two new Ferry original songs, “All Night Operator” and “Party Doll” follow.
The jazz standard “You Go To My Head” is given an interesting skipping rhythm arrangement.
But the set really becomes interesting with “In Your Mind.” It’s really the first time Ferry’s vocals become dominant in the mix as he pours his emotions onto the stage. The aggressive keyboard introduction to the reworked “Casanova” serves as an interesting contrast. It’s a great tune, with the subdued and sly Stevie Wonder sounding keyboards and Ferry’s tongue-in-cheek delivery, at times interrupted by moody sax breaks.
“Love Me Madly Again” is presented in its full seven-minute glory with a scorching guitar break by Chris Spedding and is followed by “Love Is The Drug,” Roxy Music’s biggest hit.
Ferry introduces “Tokyo Joe” in a mock-Japanese accent, something he does in all the shows. The set ends with his upbeat arrangement of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” including the band introduction. The only encore is the punkish cover arrangement of The Everly Brother’s “The Price Of Love.” Martin Drover’s trumpet lends it a almost Mexican feel before the song fades out during Spedding’s guitar fuzz.
Tokyo Joe is an essential title for the Bryan Ferry / Roxy Music collector. Not only for the rare video, but for The Sting Of El Ferranti (whose title comes from a 1974 NME article written by Nick Kent).If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)