Song of the Day: Roxy Music “Virginia Plain”

Roxy Music’s debut remains the best place to start

The 10-disc Roxy Music box set The Complete Studio Recordings 1972 – 1982 is set for an August 28th release. To mark the occasion, I’ve made their debut single the Song of the Day.

Released in August of 1972 in advance of their full-length debut, Roxy Music’s debut single “Virginia Plain” was recorded after the Roxy Music album sessions, and remains their most succinct statement of purpose. At once amateurish and incredibly polished, they made their (then) instrumental limitations their greatest asset. The music is played full force, as if the entire arrangement could fall apart at any second. In a suavely affected croon, Bryan Ferry delivers stylish couplets that paint unrelated pictures of impossible glamour (with nothing remotely resembling a chorus). Guitarist Phil Manzanera and saxophonist Andy Mackay trade spirited solos while Brian Eno’s bracing electronics add an element of analog futurism. All propelled by Paul Thompson’s powerhouse drumming.

Clocking in at just under three breathless minutes, “Virginia Plain” is an absolutely thrilling triumph of art school experimentation and pop chart subversion (cracking the UK Top 10 in the summer of 1972). One of the greatest debut singles ever.

The single recording:

Live on German TV:

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