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The Best Of Roxy Music: a storied career laid out in reverse

This retrospective Best Of rewinds through Roxy Music's past from beginning to end which is also the beginning

Roxy Music The Best Of cover art
(Image: © Virgin/UMC)

Issued for the first time on vinyl because of the band’s reunion, this compilation’s chief merit is its inclusivity. Unlike its gold-disc-sleeved predecessor, The Best Of is a straightforward singles collection (no Mother Of Pearl, In Every Dream Home A Heartache or Song For Europe here), with only Remake/Remodel there to represent Roxy Music’s long-distant debut album. 

The collection’s chief oddity is that – as with Bowie’s Nothing Has Changed and Bananarama’s Greatest – it presents the hits in reverse chronology, from Avalon to Virginia Plain

In doing so, it emphasises Roxy’s later years, the slickness of 80s mega-hits like Avalon and Jealous Guy, over the spikier pop rock of All I Want Is You and Street Life (and leaves out Trash, boo).

It also has the effect of reversing the polarity of Bryan Ferry’s 10-year plan: this version of Roxy Music’s career sees the band become less po-faced and stadium romantic, dropping the slickness of Oh Yeah and Angel Eyes, and, as time rewinds from 1982 to 1972, amping up the Cole Porter and the Noel Coward, until by the end, which is also their beginning, on songs like Do The Strand and Pyjamarama, Roxy Music are funny again.

David Quantick is an English novelist, comedy writer and critic, who has worked as a journalist and screenwriter. A former staff writer for the music magazine NME, his writing credits have included On the HourBlue JamTV Burp and Veep; for the latter of these he won an Emmy in 2015.