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Andy Mackay and the Metaphors - London! Paris! New York! Rome!

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 6 / 6 / 2009

Andy Mackay and the Metaphors - London! Paris! New York! Rome!
Label: Metaphoric
Format: CD


Surprisingly affecting debut album from the new band of Roxy Music saxophone player Andy Mackay and drummer Paul Thompson, who have taken several classic songs and then reworked them with immense originality

It is something of a surprise and an unexpected treat to find that, this late in his career, original Roxy Music saxophone player Andy Mackay has reunited with Roxy’s original drummer Paul Thompson to create a new band that thankfully don’t try to reproduce the sound their former band made, but in their own words "create disturbing beauty for your minds and hearts." For once you can believe what is said. A glance at the track listing of this debut Metaphors album which apart from Mackay and Thompson includes Julia Thornton on harp and percussion, T J Allen on guitar and laptop and Hazel Mills on piano and vocals shows that although only six songs are featured on ‘London ! Paris ! New York ! Rome !’ they are mostly all lengthy renditions of familiar songs. One can hardly blame Mackay for covering a Roxy song he co-wrote so ‘Love Is The Drug’ is featured here in an instrumental version that owes little to the Roxy Music original. Clocking in at six minutes Mackay and company don’t cover the song as such but deconstruct the tune and create a completely different take and feel than that of the original song. Late-night saxophone and tinkling piano conjure up a smoky night club hidden down past some sweaty steps someplace where the bass line just makes you want to take a slow dance. Who needs Ferry’s vocals when instruments can say more than words ? I must admit I had my doubts when I saw the classic Ray Davies song ‘Waterloo Sunset’ listed as closing the album. After all there are some songs that just shouldn’t be covered; if they are perfect in the first place then why mess with them ? Of all the cover versions I have heard of this Kinks tune then not one of them comes anywhere near matching the beauty of The Kinks original. Again Mackay and his band take the song and keep their word ; they really do turn it into a thing of "disturbing beauty." It’s almost unrecognisable in places, with Mackay playing the oboe it takes the song to a completely new level, the closing strains of what must be Big Ben ringing out being a particularly affecting move. You know this isn’t going to be just another covers album when the opening song, ‘Three Coins In The Fountain’ ( yes the classic film tune ) is given a thorough re-working with guitar by guest Chris Spedding driving it along before the delicate harp of Julia Thornton mellows the tune out somewhat and Hazel Mills piano takes control of the situation. It’s a perfect opening shot and illustrates all that is good about this band and what they are trying to achieve. If a fault is to be found that it would have to be that the playing time of 35 minutes falls a little on the short side. Given the band’s inclination to extend and improvise on the original tunes it would have taken only one more song to add a few more much needed minutes to the playing time and I’m sure that, given the wide range of songs covered here, there is no shortage of inspiration for Mackay and co. Surrounding himself with first-class musicians (both guest bassists, Guy Pratt and James Lindsay also turn in brilliant performances) and choosing material that isn’t obvious is a smart move by Mackay. I never though I’d say it but ‘I Love Paris’ is my favourite song right now on this album, again The Metaphors have taken the song to a place no one else has, and it’s not a place you’d physically want to visit again the way the tune is reproduced here at times. Dark and light, ugly and beauty, peace and war, the band create all these emotions within one song. An outstanding debut by Andy Mackay and The Metaphors then and much more affecting than it looks on paper.

Track Listing:-
1 Three Coins In The Fountain
2 Love Is The Drug
3 Elle
4 I Love Paris
5 New York, New York
6 Waterloo Sunset

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