Sunday, 1 February 2009

1981 Roxy Music: Jealous Guy

As the sleeve says - a tribute' to the murdered John Lennon by way of a cover of one of his better and better known solo songs. In theme, 'Jealous Guy' covers much the same ground as 'Woman', but it's everything that the later song is not in that it asking a woman to forgive a wrong in a simple, direct style that is obviously from the heart:"I didn't mean to hurt you, I'm sorry that I made you cry. I didn't want to hurt you, I'm just a jealous guy"  Honest too - Lennon is admitting the flaw in his own character that has caused the hurt, but he's not so deceitful as to make the age old promise of "I promise I'll change"; it's a case of love me, love my jealousy, even if it takes us down the road to ruin. 

A good song then, and a hard one to mess up. Roxy Music are far too professional an outfit to trip over their own feet in their presentation of this, and the languid synth washes are very much of the band at that time and it's almost a dry run in style for Roxy's own 'Avalon' album that would appear the following year. The main problem here is Ferry himself. Despite a latter day reputation as a lounge lizard type ballad crooner, there is always something of a sneer in his voice that has never been quite erased. It worked fine, was a virtue even, on Roxy's more cynical, discordant early output, but the straight ahead love songs that made his fortune just don't ring true and puts me in mind of a top drawer soul singer a operating Ferry like a ventriloquist's dummy, but with the lack of lip movement putting the brakes on the true soul and emotion coming out. In Ferry's hands, the "I'm sorry that I made you cry" sounds more like a distraction than truly heartfelt, almost as if he's singing it to that sex doll from 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' rather than to a living person, rendering the performance more art for art's sake than anything else. This version of the song is fine as far as it goes, and they meant well, but why would anybody want to listen to it when you can have Lennon's original?

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