A classic live album

For our final album in Guitar Lessons London’s 5 Great Guitar Albums series of blogs, we’ve chosen the classic live album Viva! by the delightful Roxy Music. Released in 1976, Viva! was Roxy Music’s first live album, recorded at three separate venues in Glasgow, Newcastle and London over the course of a few years, and makes for a thrilling listening experience. The album is genuinely fun: you can hear the energy in the songs, in the screaming crowd and in the band’s playing. The passion in Bryan Ferry’s distinct vocals is brought out in tracks such as Both Ends Burning and In Every Dream Home a Heartache. Each instrument gets its chance to shine – the saxophone, the drums, the bass, even the oboe – and especially the guitar. The album as a whole delivers a set of eight brilliant, driving art-rock songs, some ballads, some full-blown rock tracks.

Roxy Music

A dancing orchestra of instruments

The classic electric guitar work is a notable stand-out feature of the album. Kicking off with a bang with Out of the Blue, guitarist Phil Manzanera’s ending guitar solo sets the tone and scope for the whole album. This is in-the-moment rocking-out, and the crowd is thrilled. The guitar effects are great throughout the album, such as the wah-wah pedalled rhythm guitar of Pyjamarama, blending seamlessly with Andy Mackay’s sax solo. Viva! includes some of Roxy Music’s best tracks; the band’s many instruments feel like they’re dancing together – some coming, others going – always in sync. Both Ends Burning is a wonderful pop song and gives all members of Roxy Music the chance to shine. Phil Manzanera’s guitar solos prove to be wonderful highlights of the album – must-hears for any guitar lover – on If There is Something and the epic In Every Dream Home a Heartache.

An album of highlights

Roxy Music’s influence is far-reaching, its legacy extending into most subsequent genres of music. We believe Viva! sets the precedent for live albums. Highlights include Out of the Blue, Both Ends Burning and the epic In Every Dream Home a Heartache.

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