379 to 50: #30 “Virginia Plain” by Roxy Music

Roxy Music Virginia Plain

The glam pop genius of Roxy Music and “Virginia Plain”, their number 4 single from 1972, moves us into the top 30 of my favourite songs rundown.

As a big fan of both early Eno enhanced Roxy Music as well as the later cocktail rock “Avalon” period, there were plenty of candidates when picking a favourite Roxy track, and “More Than This” was also particularly close to being my selection.  It had to be “Virginia Plain” however; still such an odd and thrilling record for a debut single, backed up by one of the iconic TOTP performances.  Although obviously well before my time, this TOTP clip is so cherished a slice of our pop heritage that it’s been affectionately pastiched by not just one but two classic comedy shows – see below for links to the tributes by Big Train and Shooting Stars, as well as the original itself.

Roxy Music photo

After its short slightly distant piano/guitar intro, the way “Virginia Plain” then just bulldozes in with Bryan Ferry’s alluring non sequitur lyrics, its surging tune carried along by various different instrumental stabs – even making a saxophone sound essential! – always makes it feel like a joyful journey to a more glamorous locale.  The pleasing, giddying sensation of Ferry’s uniquely delivered vocals do indeed help to create the feeling of being “taken on a rollercoaster”.

A few years back, when travelling around the USA and finding myself in a karaoke bar in Washington DC, I stepped up to the mic to attempt “Virginia Plain” in front of a room full of Americans, none of whom seemed familiar with the song.  I did however enjoy the reaction of a girl to whom I’d been chatting, who said “I liked that, sort of singing, sort of rapping”.  Now this probably reflects mainly on my “singing” limitations, but I think it does also help to describe Bryan Ferry’s staccato vocals.  Anyway, one pleasurable memory there, amongst many that I associate with this blissful tune.



One thought on “379 to 50: #30 “Virginia Plain” by Roxy Music

  1. Pingback: Jumping Fences To Wichita: my 100 favourite songs | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

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