Short Cuts

Kevin Welch, Counting Crows, Bryan Ferry

That complaint aside, This Desert Life proves that the Counting Crows are determined to extend their 15 minutes of fame. Their creative funeral has been postponed due to unexpected sunniness. -- Bruce Britt


Bryan Ferry
As Time Goes By
(Virgin)

Even when Bryan Ferry was the toast of the avant-garde, art-rock glam wave with Roxy Music's first incarnation, decked out in '50s gold lamé and warbling "Virginia Plain" or "In Every Dream Home, a Heartache," it was clear that he was a crooner at heart. He may have been trying to sell the greaser look, but his sensibilities were entrenched well before the greaser era. With Brian Eno's departure, Ferry almost immediately adopted the white dinner jacket look, trading his Elvis-meets-Liberace wardrobe for a little more style and grace.

These Foolish Things, Ferry's first solo attempt, was an all-covers affair, his way of finding his place among his personal pantheon of influential singers and songwriters. The 1973 album was a pastiche of eras and genres, from Bob Dylan to Lesley Gore to the Beatles, but the facility with which Ferry sang the lush title track hinted strongly that the standards could be a primary direction.

Twenty-six years later Ferry finally has his classic covers album, the evocative and moody As Time Goes By. Ferry's artful spin on these acknowledged classics utilizes his fabulously expressive trill in the service of songs that predate his birth by at least a decade. With the drama and passion that he brought to Roxy and his subsequent solo pop-dance forays, Ferry absorbs the timelessness of these 60- and 70-year-old pieces, giving them new life without unnecessarily contemporizing them.

Thematically, As Time Goes By reflects on love and time. Roxy fans will take particular note of "I'm in the Mood For Love," as Ferry reteams with former Roxy guitarist Phil Manzanera for a jazzy Brazilian spin on the 1935 chestnut. Ferry's arrangements fall somewhere between straight readings and modern interpretations, depending on how playful he feels with each piece. The charm and ultimate success of As Time Goes By lie in the fact that Bryan Ferry never treats the standards as delicate museum pieces but as living, breathing musical entities. -- Brian Baker

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