He didn’t suffer alone, working with a huge number of musicians and technicians at eleven different studios to complete the recordings. The variety of locations explain why there are credits for 17 different engineers (recording, mixing, mastering and assistants) on a nine-song collection. Why so many locations? “It really fits into the fact that most of the musicians I work with live in New York. The whole thing of going to a place like Nassau, these sort of island studio in exotic places, is that you don’t get fed up over a long period with living a really unhealthy lifestyle, and it’s great to work there at night… for a while, not for too long. You can get bogged down. Swimming during the day and all that…” Nice work if you can get it.
All the talent brought in for the Boys And Girls sessions (numerous guitar players including big names like Nile Rodgers, Mark Knopfler and Dave Gilmour; ten backing vocalists including Ruby Turner and Avalon’s Yanick Etiene; David Sanborn on sax etc) resulted in the word ‘polished’ being used by most reviewers to describe the resulting product. “When you say polished what you really mean is that the musicians are on top of their instruments and they don’t have to think about technique because they have it all. It’s always something that you’re worried about when you’re trying to make a so-called state-of-the-art record, and if you’ve been making records for 12 years or whatever, you don’t feel that you’re going to make the same sort of record that you made in your first year, where obviously it tends to be more of a rough diamond. That’s wonderful, but it would be wrong and dishonest in a way to make a record like that, it wouldn’t be natural, because you always become more sophisticated in what you hear and what you’re trying to do as you know more about it. So you want to get to a higher level of technical facility … still, whatever I play is very rough and ready, so that’s some element. I actually take a [keyboard] solo on this album for the first time in ten years.” If the sound is smooth on the finished LP, then that might have been because “it was a very enjoyable record to make,” albeit one that “sounds much easier than it actually was. It did go very well for the first six months, very fast. I sort of had a severe writers’ block as far as the lyrics went for a while.”
New Musical Express headed their review of the album ‘Mild Green Ferry Liquid’, saying “the tenor of ‘Boys And Girls’ is exquisitely smooth, beautifully varnished. After the day’s fashion among rich people, it was recorded in six months around the world with the customary stellar cast: but Ferry moves nowhere, takes not a single step outside Prospero’s cell. He is already like an old man with his memories.” Both this review and the one in Smash Hits (which revised the estimate of the recording duration to 18 months) said that Ferry had made an album about what boys and girls “do to each other,” Smash Hits arguing that he has done so “in a slick but not wildly exciting manner” and NME saying that he “seems to be saying … that he can never be one of the boys and girls. His ‘I’ is a ghost in somebody else’s affair.”
Melody Maker’s review was titled ‘A Sloane Square’ and said Ferry was “now utterly removed from the hurly-burly world of current pop… brushed and scrubbed to within an inch of their lives, these performances actually have very little to say…. Ferry simply retains too much a stiff upper lip in the face of disaster.” It was the “sound of Bryan Ferry trying to grow old gracefully in an arena that doesn’t usually allow its performers much dignity in middle-age. It’s an immaculately crafted record, meticulously assembled, its every detail honed, every nuance chiselled to a fine degree of often chilling perfection.” Smash Hits concluded that “if Boys And Girls was a book, it would be one for the coffee table – glossy, almost perfect, expensive-looking but hardly essential.” Its rating of 6 out of 10 was probably the general consensus.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Nov. 29
Bryan FERRY Windswept (EG FERRY3)
THOMPSON TWINS Revolution (Arista TWINS10)