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Country Life is the fourth album by British rock band Roxy Music, released in 1974 and reaching #3 in the UK charts. It also made #37 in the United States, their first record to crack the Top 40 there. The album is considered by many critics to be among the band's most sophisticated and consistent. Jim Miller in his review for Rolling Stone wrote "Stranded and Country Life together mark the zenith of contemporary British art rock." Band leader Bryan Ferry took the album's title from the British rural lifestyle magazine Country Life.
The opening track, "The Thrill of it All", was an up-tempo rocker that further developed the style of songs like "Virginia Plain" (1972) and "Do the Strand" (1973); it included a quote from Dorothy Parker's poem "Resume": "You might as well live". Edwin Jobson's violin dominated the heavily-flanged production of "Out of the Blue", which became a live favourite. Esoteric musical influences were betrayed by the German oom-pah band passages in "Bitter-Sweet", the Elizabethan flavour of "Triptych" and the lighthearted, boogie-blues, Southern rock edge to "If It Takes All Night".
"Casanova" was singled out for praise by a number of critics as a more cynical and hard-rocking number than the usual Roxy Music fare. Like the earlier "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" (1973), it was seen as a critique of the hollowness of the contemporary jet set, and contained further instances of Bryan Ferry's idiosyncratic word association ("Now you're nothing but / Second hand in glove / With second rate"). A re-recorded version, more mellow than the original, appeared on Ferry's 1976 solo album Let's Stick Together.
The final track, "Prairie Rose", was an ode to Texas and one of its daughters, Jerry Hall, Ferry's new girlfriend, who was soon to appear on the cover of Roxy Music's fifth album, Siren (1975), and later in the video to Ferry's hit single "Let's Stick Together".
Country Life included Roxy Music's fourth single, "All I Want Is You" b/w "Your Application's Failed", which reached #12 in the UK charts. An edited version of "The Thrill of It All", with the same B-side, was released in the United States. The album was released on Atco Records, a division of Atlantic Records.
Shot by Eric Boman, the cover features two scantily-clad models, Constanze Karoli (reportedly either the sister or the female first cousin of Can's Michael Karoli) and Eveline Grunwald. Bryan Ferry met them in Portugal and persuaded them to do the photo shoot as well as to help him with the words to the song "Bitter-Sweet". Although not credited for their photos they are credited on the lyric sheet for their German translation work.
The cover image was considered controversial in some countries such as the United States, Spain, and the Netherlands, where it was censored for release. As a result, a later American LP release of Country Life (available during the years 1975-80) featured a different cover shot. Instead of Karoli and Grunwald posed in front of some trees, the reissue used a photo from the album's back cover that featured only the trees. Author Michael Ochs has described the result as the "most complete cover-up in rock history".
Continuing with the stylistic developments of Stranded, Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. At their best, Roxy combine these two extremes, like on the exhilarating opener "The Thrill of It All," but Country Life benefits considerably from the ebb and flow of the group's two extremes, since it showcases their deft instrumental execution and their textured, enthralling songwriting. And, in many ways, Country Life offers the greatest and most consistent set of Roxy Music songs, illustrating their startling depth. From the sleek rock of "All I Want Is You" and "Prairie Rose" to the elegant, string-laced pop of "A Really Good Time," Country Life is filled with thrilling songs, and Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here.
01. "The Thrill of It All" 6:24
02. "Three and Nine" (Ferry, Andy Mackay) 4:04
03. "All I Want Is You" 2:53
04. "Out of the Blue" (Ferry, Phil Manzanera) 4:46
05. "If It Takes All Night" 3:12
06. "Bitter-Sweet" (Ferry, Mackay) 4:50
07. "Triptych" 3:09
08. "Casanova" 3:27
09. "A Really Good Time" 3:45
10. "Prairie Rose" (Ferry, Manzanera) 5:12