Stop doing the stroll, mouse, limbo, eighty-one and peppermint twist. Give the Strand four minutes of your time and you won’t think of doing another dance for at least two weeks.
In an album that is remarkably inaccessible, “Do The Strand” strikes with immediate impact. This lead-off number, written by lead singer Bryan Ferry, is the cleverest use of language and rhyme since “I Am the Walrus.” “Tired of the tango? Fed up with fandango? … Bored of the beguine? The sambo isn’t your scene? … Weary of the waltz? And mashed potato schmaltz?” By the time the band has taken off on its midflight solo, the listener desperately wants to do the Strand, whatever it is. Turns out it isn’t anything, which enhances the magic of what is a total performance. Andrew Mackay’s wailing saxophone punctuates Ferry’s questions, the rest of the band produces a high-powered backing track, and Ferry sounds perfectly nasty when he says, “We like the Strand.”
You’ll like it, too, and you can be excused for putting the needle back at the beginning, especially if you hear what comes afterwards. Sadly, the British Top Ten hit “Pyjamarama” is not included, and the seven tracks that are here are hard to bite into. There are some worthwhile moments, to be sure. Changing rhythms, Eno’s use of synthesizer and tapes, instrumental passages, Ferry’s odd vocal styling and the group’s sudden endings are all worth hearing, but mainly because they are interesting, not entertaining. The only true highlights are the eerie “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” and the “boys will be boys will be boyoyoyoys” line and Mackay’s solo on “Editions Of You.”
Side two drones on with a nine-minute instrumental that sounds like a rip-off of the Doors’ “Alabama Song.” The title tune ends the album, but is it a tune? It sounds like dogs barking repetitively for minutes on end. Maybe it is Eno’s genius at work, but if so you’ve gotta be Mensa level to understand him or be so stoned you still think the drum solo on “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” is a tour de force.
A great deal of the group’s appeal is visual, and even staring at the interior gatefold won’t communicate that excitement. If “Do The Strand,” “Pyjamarama” and “Virginia Plain” were all on a maxi-single it would be one of the buys of the year. But the bulk of For Your Pleasure is either above us, beneath us, or on another plane altogether. You can find out where they register on your individual scale. As for me, I shall continue doing the Strand.