But if you didn't know the background, you wouldn't guess it. Several of these 10 songs are as good as anything he has done, either solo or with Roxy Music. Which camp Mamouna belongs in is open to question: Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay are among the players, and Brian Eno, who fell out with Ferry in 1973, rejoined him for a week to add characteristic touches ('sonic ambience', 'sonic awareness', even 'sonic distress') to most of the album, and to co-write one track, 'Wildcat Days'. This is a first: Ferry and Eno never wrote together in the old days, wildcat or otherwise. Perhaps they were right not to. The sonic stuff is super, but the song is routine.
Elsewhere, Ferry rediscovers his ear for a tune, without losing his eye for detail. The gently pulsating title track, the yearning ballad 'Your Painted Smile', the Eno-meets- Marvin Gaye dance workout 'The 39 Steps', the loner's anthem 'The Only Face' and the tender love song 'Chain Reaction' all lodge in your mind after a couple of plays. Best of the lot is 'Which Way to Turn' - a melody that ought to be a film theme, an arrangement of gorgeous simplicity, and words (a neat touch) that are all about indecision.
The style remains the same - R'n'B de luxe - but with added warmth, especially in the vocals, which get higher and less stylised as Ferry approaches 50. There are flaws: some of the lyrics are perfunctory, and the choppy funk guitar can grate against the lyricism of the other guitars, Ferry's keyboards and Mackay's saxophone. But this is a beautiful record. Time will tell if it's as good as Avalon, the high-water mark for Ferry's mature period. So far, it is.Reuse content