Bryan Ferry & Opinions on Kanye West

Jim and Greg talk with Roxy Music founder Bryan Ferry about re-interpreting his work. Later in the show, they weigh in on Kanye West’s dark new album Yeezus.

Brian Ferry
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It’s been quite a week for Kanye West. First an album leak, then a baby born, then an album release. But leave it to Jay-Z to steal his thunder. His upcoming album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, won’t be released until next month, but already it has sold over one million copies. The buyer? Samsung. It will be giving Galaxy users early access to the record, which was further promoted by this ad during an NBA Final game. So if Billboard were to recognize these Samsung sales, this would be the album to beat this year.

Another chart success this week: Black Sabbath. Only this one was over four decades in the making. Ozzy Osbourne and his bandmates (less Bill Ward) debuted at #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. The band only came close to this kind of success once before in 1971, but 13 is a record-breaker.

Bryan Ferry

In his 4 decade long career Bryan Ferry formed the hugely influential band Roxy Music, launched a successful solo career and became a style icon. Now, he’s gone jazz. He joins Jim and Greg to talk about his new album The Jazz Age, which features reinterpretations of his songs in a 1920’s big band style. The album reunites Ferry with his Roxy co-founder Brian Eno, and despite previous creative differences, he says Eno pushed him to places he couldn’t have gone on his own. Plus, Mr. Eno has even stated that the Roxy album released after he left is the band’s best.

Yeezus Kanye West

Yeezus

For the past decade, Kanye West has been the dominant force in hip-hop - maybe even all of pop, Jim says. And this week he came out with album no. six, Yeezus. West’s last solo record, 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, featured rich, radio-friendly production. On Yeezus, West has scaled back the lushness, if not the egomania. Greg says he hears everything from Chicago drill music to industrial influences on this brutally minimalist record. Forget the radio audience - Yeezus is about Kanye and his anger. Thematically, that means lots of songs about freedom and control, Greg says, and West’s perception that, for all his sucgicess, he is still being denied a place at the big boy table where his fellow business and media moguls sit. Potent stuff, but West’s downfall, both Jim and Greg agree, is the sloppily racist and misogynistic lyrics he relies. On the basis of the music alone, Jim says, Yeezus is a Buy it, but the lyrics are trash. Yeezus gets a double Try It.

Greg

Kanye’s mixed success on Yeezus gets Greg thinking about West’s creative predecessors, and an artist who did anger-filled industrial rap even better. Saul Williams’ 2004 self-titled album merged aggressive, minimalist, production with anger-filled rap in a way that got industrial music heavyweights like NIN’s Trent Reznor to pay attention. (Reznor later produced an album for Williams.) Greg plays List of Demands for his Desert Island Jukebox as an example of what Yeezus could have been.

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