Steel Cage Match: Bryan Ferry VS Robert Palmer

steel-cage--ferry-palmerSure, sure! Bryan Ferry and Robert Palmer invariable get compared to one another, what with their love of R&B, harmonica solos and immaculately tailored suits. I enjoy many recordings of both artistes, and have missed Palmer since his untimely death on my 40th birthday [coincidentally, Ferry’s 58th birthday…!]. Ferry has an artistic pedigree a mile long, but only one of these guys made any inroads into the American pop charts… and his name rhymes with “embalmer.” But that’s neither here nor there. The crucial issue at hand today is haberdashery. Namely, who cut a sharper figure on stage in a suit?

The Show Begins…

It’s 10:00 PM. Both Ferry and Palmer can rock a suit like nobody’s business. Ferry gets a few points for having a mike cord, but dig Palmer’s bold necktie! Clothes do make the man!

ferry-crisp                palmer-begins-suave

The First Set Is Ending…

It’s 11:00 PM. Ferry has lost the tie and his Phytofix® has begun to let him down. Meanwhile, Palmer’s creases are still sharp enough to cut cheese on!

ferry-melting               palmer-still-suave

Encore Time…

It’s 12:20 AM. Ferry has lost all semblance of suavity as he’s doffed his jacket and tie. His shirt is clinging to his sweat dampened skin. His hair is completely disheveled. Meanwhile, Palmer is running a 103° fever and he’s not got a hair out of place.

ferry-disheveled               palmer-suave-B+W

The winner? Not even close! Of course this little exercise was just a simulation, but having seen Ferry and Palmer live, let’s just say that only one of them lived in Lugano, Switzerland so he’d be a quick drive away from his beloved Milan. And this simulation was absolutely based on the reality that I encountered live! The last time I saw Palmer, he was running a fever but you would not have know it had you not been told. He rocked that Milanese suit like the pro he was. Meanwhile Bryan Ferry was a matinee idol with feet of clay. Damp clay, as Ferry perspired profusely during his performances. Make what you will of their respective music. They each have their ups and downs, but on the Battlefield of Men’s Fashion, there was only one true master and he’s been gone for a decade now.

– 30 –

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graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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16 Responses to Steel Cage Match: Bryan Ferry VS Robert Palmer

  1. Echorich says:

    I’ll take an Anthony Price suit over Cerruti 1881 any day Monk… Ferry wins here for me. The disassembly of Ferry from start to finish of his show is part of the show for me. Ferry also gets points for his particular choice of wearing white silk sock with black or blue suits.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Awww! My tongue was planted firmly in cheek for this posting! I kid Mr. Ferry! I couldn’t agree more about his deconstruction during a concert being quite charming and human. And white socks? Let’s just say that on the occasion where I met Mr. Ferry, I was certainly rocking that white sock action myself in deference to The Master! My wife may look askance at the notion but even Jim Kerr was paying attention to the socks during his brief Antony Price phase!

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  2. Tim says:

    I side with Echorich here. The only analogy I can offer is catching some paparzzi shots recently of a film shooting with Kristin Stewart and Juliette Binoche. One has a certain je ne sais quoi and the other leaves me utterly unmoved. It’s all about the presence.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I love ’em both, damnit! It’s so hard to choose but the contrast is humorous to me. And having seen him up close, there’s something to be said about the bold manner in which Palmer rocks a suit. It’s like cosmic rays blinding you in person.

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  3. At least Ferry looks good when he sweats! And to be fair, Palmer may have had more success on the US Pop charts but Ferry/Roxy Music had their moments, quite a few if you consider the UK and Euro charts. “Love Is The Drug” cracked the Top 40 in the US, as did “Slave to Love” and “Don’t Stop the Dance”, the album “Boys And Girls” sold over a million in the US. There’s some inroads!

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  4. postpunkmonk says:

    orange county dj – In europe it’s no contest! Roxy Music and Ferry outsold Palmer 10:1 if not moreso, but Ferry was always trying to crack the US market… and failing. I imagine that when he turned down “Don’t You [Forget About Me]” that he was kicking himself when Roxy Music wannabees Simple Minds of all people, rode it to the top here! I’m aware that “Love Is The Drug” cracked the top 40 here since it was the hook that ensnared me into a life of Ferry worship. As a youth, I used to wait hours listening to my AM transistor radio with an earphone [pre-Walkman®] waiting for the next time the local [highly conservative] Orlando DJs at WLOF-AM would play it next. It was torture, let me tell you! Read the full account here: https://postpunkmonk.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/three-seminal-singles-number-3/

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    • Echorich says:

      My AM transistor radio was a GE model, black plastic with a silver grille front. I remember my Dad brought me home an earphone spliter and a second earphone and all of a sudden I had fake stereo!!

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    • Ferry seems to be a man who wants things on his own terms, I wonder if he truly regrets that decision.

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        OCDJ – At this point I hope he has no artistic regrets. But from ’75-’95 I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that he wanted to crack this market in the worst way. Anyone his age should adjust their reality to have as few regrets as possible.

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        • Kudos to you PPM! An August 2005 interview reveals Ferry was bummed he didn’t record the song. “musicOMH:Do you have any professional regrets?
          Bryan:Yeah. I don’t know which one to mention, but I do. When I stoppedtouring in the early ’80s for a few years, it was a mistake looking back. Ilost touch with my audience in a way and I think that was a bad career move.I turned down a song that would’ve been a number one record. Simple Mindsdid it. That launched them – Don’t You Forget About Me. It’s a really goodsong.”

          http://www.musicomh.com/features/interviews/interview-bryan-ferry

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          • postpunkmonk says:

            orange county dj – You hit the target spot on, Sir! Yeah, I always thought that was exactly the case with him and that song. But the stinging irony is, that I’ll bet that if he had agreed to sing that song, it never would have climbed the charts like it did! I think it’s Ferry’s lot to be on the periphery of music in America. His work is just too complex and sophisticated for US ears, by and large.

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            • Echorich says:

              Point in fact Monk, Is Your Love Strong Enough – sure not the blockbuster teen film that The Breakfast Club was, but the song was also a thick slice of Sophisti-pop Ferry Style that appealed to New Music stations, but left FM rock radio scratching it’s head.

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              • postpunkmonk says:

                Echorich – For sure, pally! After he nixed the Breakfast Club tune he was all over that movie tie-in action. Sometimes indiscriminately. “Dance With Life,” anyone… No?? But “Is Your Love Strong Enough” was certainly a high water mark of a single. It was just Ferry’s luck that he picked the one Tom Cruise flick that flopped! “Help Me” was pretty good, too. A nice Nile Rogers production from “The Fly.” My guess on “Don’t You.” He didn’t write it and balked on singing a tune he’d get no points on. My theory.

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                • Echorich says:

                  I wonder what Keith Forsey could have brought to the table for Ferry though. He certainly enhanced Icehouse, so he was in the right wheelhouse. I’m not going to ever say anything negative about the Ferry/Rhett Davies combo though…classic. In fact Davies is the unsung hero of so much critical music. He pushed Eno to the boundary edges and over and created a luxurious, ambient enviorment for the likes of Ferry, Icehouse and Talk Talk.

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                  • postpunkmonk says:

                    Echorich – Oh yes. Rhett Davis is The Man. I have almost every production of his in my Record Cell just because the man has my tastes. And I can’t say he ever let me down. Don’t forget he also oversaw “Dazzle Ships” for OMD as well as the second B-52s album! And it’s all great. Keith Forsey is also a major talent. I can’t blame him for Billy Idol, but he was Moroder’s right hand man and to his credit, never recalled Moroder on his own productions. I suspect, that factor, as much as A+M’s “friendly pressure” accounted for Simple Minds acquiescing to record that song. But while it was a decent enough single, all things considered, that the band actually managed to put their stamp at least partially on, I don’t bear Forsey any ill will towards it. After all, he can’t be blamed for turning it into a stadium singalong lasting, ghod, upwards to ten minutes. No, the blame for that lies right behind the beady eyes of one Jim Kerr! I’ll go as far as saying that when they finally came to their senses and recorded a full album with Forsey, the results were so comparatively spectacular to what they had done for the previous decade, that it was the critical act of Simple Minds that pulled me back on board after years of keeping my distance. So hats off to Keith Forsey!

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