What's the precedent for this album? Like the London band that created it, Roxy Music sounded like nothing else in 1972, and the only thing it resembles today is Roxy Music's next album, 1973's For Your Pleasure. Bryan Ferry has an astonishingly mannered vocal approach here, as if he decided to sing what the celluloid heroes of yesterday's melodramas conveyed through silence. Like David Bowie, a kindred cracked actor of song, Ferry and his compatriots invented a new language by combining their favorite tongues — Anguish, Angst, Ennui, Lust and, of course, Make-Believe. The result is still recognizably rock 'n' roll: For a moment toward the end of "The Bob (Medley)," it's even boogie-woogie. The incongruous midsection of "Would You Believe?" sounds like crazy people trying to be the Beach Boys, while "Re-Make/Re-Model" points the way to punk. But all of these are so much more than the few inspirations one can trace.
Phil Manzanera's solo in "Chance Meeting" — the one that careens and crashes through this unconventional electric piano ballad — walks a thin line between stirring melody and extreme distortion. The oboe that Andy Mackay blows so strikingly in "Sea Breezes" had surely never appeared on a rock record before, and all other elements — Graham Simpson's tuba-like bassline, Manzanera's rock-as-free-jazz guitar solo, Paul Thompson's disjointed-yet-rock steady beats, Ferry's elemental electric piano chording, and Brian Eno's sonic tinkering — are nearly as unprecedented. At this early point as progressive as it was glam, Roxy Music embraced countless simultaneous styles at a time when most bands clung to one. Together with Bowie and Queen, the sextet reclaimed rock eclecticism from the Beatles and made it sensuous.