Re-make/Re-model – Michael Bracewell (2007)

I first noticed this book over in the Netherlands, decided to wait until I was home to pick it up.  Re-make/Re-model by Michael Bracewell is the story of the origins of the English band Roxy Music, titled after the first song on their first record, the self-titled album of 1972.  It’s not a history of the band, it’s an examination of the art and fashion trends that the band members grew up studying, and ultimately Bracewell makes the case for Roxy as the first truly ‘pop art’ band, interested in mixing all sorts of influences, from fifties rock and roll to futurism.

Bracewell uses a raft of new interviews with the whole circle of people who were in some way part of the Roxy Music circle, many of whom are credited in some way on that first record.  The main subjects, obviously, are Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, both out of art schools in northern England (Newcastle and Ipswich respectively).  Ferry studied with early pop artist Richard Hamilton, and Eno was in a quite radical art approach at Ipswich led by Roy Ascott.

This so-so review of the Guardian, “The Art of Noise” by Michael Faber, gives a pretty good feel for what the book is like:

To be fair, Re-make/Re-Model is not really a rock biography; it is a dissertation on fashions and concepts in art and popular culture, as we might expect from the author of The Nineties: When Surface Was Depth and England Is Mine: Pop Life in Albion From Wilde to Goldie. And the lecturer comparison is no idle snipe: much of this book examines the ideologies that were taught at the tertiary institutions where Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno and a host of their friends and mentors studied in the late 60s.

The book is longer than it really needed to be, but does have some good material on some of the more radical art school concepts active in the sixties.

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  • johnk5555  On December 17, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    One of my favorite bands of the 80’s. I will have to pick this up!

  • Curt  On December 17, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I found it interesting, but do note that it does not cover their career as an active band – the book only goes up to 1972, the recording of the first record.

    I was not a big fan back in the old days, but in my recent review of their music from the 1970s I found that I really liked about half the tracks on all their early albums. Only in the last few days have I started to listen to some of the Bryan Ferry solo records, which begin with all-covers of some pretty broad material, including Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Joplin, etc.

  • johnk5555  On December 18, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I always thought of them as an 80’s band but never realized they started in 72′. One of my favorite song’s “Love is the Drug” was written in 75!! Almost seems like they were before their time. Must of had a huge influence in groups like Simple Minnds, ABC, Tears for Fears and so on!

  • Curt  On December 18, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Yes, they definitely had a unique sound for the seventies, and I think you’re right, they set the stage for many of the big 80’s bands.

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