When we first wrote about Bryan Ferry’s forthcoming solo effort Olympia, I put the “solo” in square quotes because the 10-song collection includes a number of guests — Nile Rodgers, David Gilmour, Groove Armada, Scissor Sisters, Marcus Miller, Flea, Mani, Jonny Greenwood. That, and old Roxy Music folks Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, and Andy Mackay. You get some of those bigger names on this pretty cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song To The Siren.” There are plenty of guitars — Manzanera, Gilmous, Greenwood, and Oliver Thompson all contribute. You’ll also spot Eno, with Colin Good, on synths. Then come the strings. Kate Moss on the cover. And, impressively, none of this feels overdone.
Bryan Ferry – “Song To The Siren”
Who did what:
Voice/Piano/Keyboards: Bryan Ferry
Guitars: Oliver Thompson, Phil Manzanera, David Gilmour, Nile Rodgers, Jonny Greenwood
Bass: Marcus Miller
Drums: Andy Newmark, Tara Ferry, Emily Dolan Davies
Percussion: Frank Ricotti
Synthesisers: Brian Eno, Colin Good
Electronics: John Monkman
Oboe: Andrew Mackay
Cello: Anthony Pleeth
Violins: Perry Montague-Mason, Emlyn Singleton
Viola: Vicci Wardman
Chorus: Seweuse Abwa, Hannah Khemoh, Aleysha Gordon
Voice: Tallulah Harlech
Additional Engineering: Sven Taits, Ash Howes
01 “You Can Dance”
03 “Heartache By Numbers”
04 “Me Oh My?”
06 “Song to the Siren?”
07 “No Face, No Name, No Number?”
08 “BF Bass (Ode to Olympia)?”
09 “Reason Or Rhyme?”
10 “Tender Is the Night”
I approached the record with the same intensity as the early Roxy Music albums, and I wanted the artwork to represent this. One of the inspirations for the cover was the 19th century painting “Olympia” by Edouard Manet – a kind of early pin-up picture, and in a sense a forerunner of some 20th Century Pop Art, which I feel strongly connected to.
The picture shows a young courtesan lying on a bed, receiving flowers from her maid, which are no doubt a gift from her lover. She wears very little more than a provocative expression, and the painting created quite an uproar when it was first exhibited in Paris. There’s an interesting essay on this, written by Michael Bracewell, which is featured in the 40 page ‘deluxe’ version of the album.
I wanted a cover-girl for this record who could convey the glamorous notoriety of the original Olympia painting, and the obvious choice was Kate Moss. Kate has long been the “femme fatale” of our age, as controversial as she is beautiful, and the most glamorous female icon since Marilyn Monroe.
I was still finishing my album at the time of the photoshoot, so everything happened at the last minute (which is often the way with ‘rock ‘n roll). The shoot took place at Sunbeam Studios in London, and the designer Gideon Ponte built a fantastic set – with the finest linen … the perfect bed … Shoes and dresses were flown-in from Paris, jewelery escorted by security guards, flowers everywhere, a supporting cast of thousands … and everyone involved worked really hard to get the right shot, especially our photographer Adam Whitehead.