Bryan Ferry – As Time Goes By (1999)

FrontCover1Roxy Music’s swan song, 1982’s Avalon, broke with nearly everything the band had done up to that point. A slow, lush, mournful, synth-laden collection of make-out music, it served as an ideal setting for the teardrops-and-cocktails persona frontman Bryan Ferry had been honing for years. So much so, in fact, that Ferry has spent the years since making solo albums that re-create the feel of Avalon with varying degrees of success. Taxi, Ferry’s 1993 covers collection, even applied the Avalon treatment to songs unsuited for it. A lifeless take on “Amazing Grace” served as a particular low point, but few of those tracks suggested that the interpretive skills displayed on previous cover albums, particularly the 1973 classic These Foolish Things, had survived into the ’90s. As Time Goes By, a collection of standards from the ’20s and ’30s, suggests BryanFerryotherwise. In many ways the opposite of These Foolish Things, which propelled itself with cheek and irreverence, Time’s approach remains respectful throughout. Largely discarding synths and 21st-century production sheen for the sound of a small jazz combo, Ferry sings his heart out, working through some of the greatest hits of the era between the two world wars. (These include the title track, “I’m In The Mood For Love,” “Easy Living,” three Cole Porter favorites, and an unearthly take on Kurt Weill’s ode to aging, “September Song.”) Of course, even in Ferry’s weakest moments, he’s able to skate by thanks to his inimitable voice, an asset that sounds healthier on As Time Goes By than it has in years. Vocal tics he seemed to discard years ago (check out that tremolo!) show up again, making the album one of his liveliest since Roxy Music’s dissolution. Ferry clearly owes a lot to the material here: Always more indebted to the cabaret than the arena, his connection with the songs can’t be faked. Like Paul McCartney’s new Run Devil Run, Time sounds like the work of an artist facing the future by getting in touch with the most important elements of his past, and the results are both predictable and thrilling, musically tasteful but as emotionally raw as good manners will allow. (by Keith Phipps)

Allan Barnes (saxophone, clarinet)
Philip Dukes (viola)
Bryan Ferry (vocals)
Robert Fowler (clarinet)
Colin Good (piano)
Bob Hunt (trombone)
Richard Jeffries (bass)
Peter Lale (viola)
Chris Laurence (bass)
Abraham Leborovich (violin)
José Libertella (bandoneon)
Tony Pleeth (cello)
Malcolm Earle Smith (trombone)
Nils Solberg (guitar)
Luis Stazo (bandoneon)
John Sutton (drums)
Enrico Tomasso (trumpet)
Jim Tomlinson (saxophone, clarinet)
Hugh Webb (harp)
Dave Woodcock (violin)
Gavyn Wright (violin)
Nicholas Bucknall (clarinet on 15.)
Paul Clarvis (drums on 06.)
Wilf Gibson (violin on 15.)
Phil Manzanera (guitar on 04.)
Andy Newmark (drums on 04.)
Anthony Pike (bass clarinet)
Timothy Pike (clarinet on 15.)
Alice Retif (vocals on 04.)
Tobias Tak (percussion on 06.)
Martin Wheatley (guitar on 13., banjo on 14.)
David White (clarinet on 15.)

01. As Time Goes By (Hupfeld) 2.34
02. The Way You Look Tonight (Fields/Kern) 3.36
03. Easy Living (Robin/Rainger) 2.16
04. I’m In The Mood For Love (McHugh/Fields) 4.17
05. Where Or When (Rodgers/Hart) 3.19
06. When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful (Woods) 2.57
07. Sweet And Lovely (Daniels/Arnheim/Tobias) 3.10
08. Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable To Lunch Today) (Porter) 2.39
09. Time On My Hands (Adamson/Gordon/Youmans) 3.02
10. Lover Come Back To Me (Hammerstein II/Romberg) 2.54
11. Falling In Love Again (Hollaender/Lerner) 2.26
12. Love Me Or Leave Me (Kahn/Donaldson) 2.44
13. You Do Something To Me (Porter) 2.47
14. Just One Of Those Things (Porter) 2.46
15. September Song (Weill/Anderson) 3.03