Olympia

Overview AudioVideoArtworkLyricsRemixHistory

You Can Dance (Official Video)

Shameless (Official Video)

“One of the inspirations for the cover was the 19th century painting ’Olympia’ by Édouard Manet (link: Wikipedia) – a kind of early pin-up picture. The picture shows a young courtesan lying on a bed wearing little more than a provocative expression, and the painting created quite an uproar when it was first exhibited in Paris.

“I wanted a cover-girl for this record who could convey the glamorous notoriety of the original ‘Olympia’ painting, and the obvious choice was Kate Moss. Kate has long been the ‘femme fatale’ of our age, as controversial as she is beautiful, and the most glamorous female icon since Marilyn Monroe.

“I was still finishing my album at the time of the photo shoot, so everything happened at the last minute (which is often the way in ‘rock ‘n roll). The shoot took place at Sunbeam Studios in West London, and the designer Gideon Ponte built a fantastic set – with the finest linen… the perfect bed… Shoes and dresses were flown-in from Paris, jewellery escorted by security guards, flowers everywhere, a supporting cast of thousands… and everyone involved worked really hard to get the right shot, especially our photographer Adam Whitehead”

Whitehead, who honed his craft under Mario Testino, said, “when Bryan approached me to shoot his new album cover I jumped at the chance, envisaging all his famous covers of the past.  On the day Kate was amazing. She had in her mind exactly the character she wanted to portray. ‘Give me red lips, I want to be a Roxy girl’ she screamed!’ “

To coincide with Olympia’s release, Bryan and the Studio team commissioned over thirty remixes of the album’s tracks. It all started with the singles ‘You Can Dance’ and ‘Shameless’, but Bryan got so into it, that we ended-up having remixes done of every track on the record!

Because ‘You Can Dance’ and ‘Shameless’ are effectively dance tracks – it all started quite upbeat, with most of the remixes being of the Disco / Electronica genre. But by the end we had quite a varied bag of tricks, with great ambient versions of ‘Me Oh My’ / ‘Tender’ / ‘Siren’ and Metamorfozy’s incredible ‘Reason or Rhyme’.

It really was a team effort, with the Olympia production team of Simon Willey, John Monkman and Johnson Somerset all submitting great versions of tracks they had toiled over for years!

Olympia includes a stellar cast of session musicians and frontmen; from Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, Chic mastermind Nile Rodgers, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Brian Eno, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and ex-Stone Roses and current Primal Scream bassist Mani – not to mention Miles Davis acolyte Marcus Miller and Michael Jackson’s trusted rhythm guitarist, the late David Williams.

Bryan Ferry’s latest batch of songs have a high standard to live up to, and the singer is confident that the album represents somewhat of a pinnacle for him as an artist. A key ingredient on the LP is Ferry’s own active instrumental role, as he pointed out himself: “I used to play a bigger role on keyboards on the Roxy [Music] records than I did in my solo career [...] I kind of did myself out of a job, in a way. But on this album I’ve come back into the forefront a bit more.”

Opening with the single ‘You Can Dance’, Olympia‘s intent is made clear right from the off. A pulsating tour-de-force underpinned by a thunderous bass groove, the song is crowned by a typically Pop Art influenced lyric from the inimitable Ferry. It is accompanied by a music video from acclaimed director Ferry Gouw. According to Gouw, “Bryan wanted to portray the video as a band performance in perhaps the seediest most glamorous and exclusive underground club where beautiful people are all high on life”.

It is swiftly followed by ‘Alphaville’, written in conjunction with Dave Stewart. The track is a showcase for the serpentine bass playing of Marcus Miller, and due to the presence of Brian Eno, undoubtedly arouses the interest of Roxy Music fans.

The triumphant ‘Heartache by Numbers’, Bryan Ferry’s collaboration with New York’s chart-conquering Scissor Sisters, is imbued with the heady spirit of the Big Apple. It continues the Roxy Music links by showcasing the unmistakable tones of Andy Mackay’s oboe and highlights Ferry’s gift for anthemic arrangements with its rousing chorus line, before gracefully shifting down a gear for ‘Me Oh My’, a keening ballad whose silky atmosphere is amplified by the twin guitar work of David Gilmour and forthcoming guitar prodigy Oliver Thompson.

Olympia‘s textural variety is on display in the effortless elision from the contemporary and urbane electro-disco of ‘Shameless’ (made in collusion with London’s Groove Armada) into Ferry’s achingly romantic interpretation of Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’, whose rich, dense layers call to mind his hugely successful hits of the 1980s.

The album’s other ‘re-model’ is the next platter, a symphonic recasting of Traffic’s bucolic 1967 song ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’. It finds Bryan Ferry once more exploring new territory, adding a soulfully psychedelic string to his bow. ‘BF Bass (Ode to Olympia)’, a tongue-in-cheek comment on our current obsession with social networking, was written with Phil Manzanera but takes its title from its compositional origins – Bryan Ferry’s own playing on bass guitar, another first for his seasoned hand.

Olympia comes to a suitably stately conclusion in its closing pair of tracks. ‘Reason or Rhyme’ is a masterpiece of understated finesse, with Bryan Ferry’s keyboards combining with his delicate vocal to create a haunting and hypnotic ambience that belies its surface simplicity. “It’s one where you can just get absorbed in the music hopefully”, Ferry comments. The final song, ‘Tender Is The Night’, another collaboration with Dave Stewart, displays a lightness of touch with its eerie, synthesized backdrop and features a gorgeous piano melody courtesy of session supremo Steve Nieve (best known for his association with Elvis Costello).

Impeccably produced by Bryan Ferry, long-time accomplice Rhett Davies and Johnson Somerset, Olympia is a magnum opus from one of music’s few remaining living legends, full of stylistic twists and turns. It never loses its melodic or rhythmic momentum and is a testament to his never-ending passion and enthusiasm for making music that touches the heart as much as it does the hips.

The album is dedicated to two of Bryan Ferry’s recently departed friends: celebrated fashionista and international style icon Isabella Blow, who tragically took her own life in 2007, and David Williams, who sadly passed away in 2009.

1. You Can Dance

( Ferry / Stewart )

In a discotheque at dawn that’s when it came to me
I’d been raving through the night looking for some company
It was the mambo talking it’s got a lot to say
Do you come here often? Do you wanna play?
We’ll hitch hike into Paris
We’ll zig zag by the Seine
Oh the howling moon of promise
I’ll never be the same
There’s a world awaiting way beyond the sea
How I love to travel – baby will you come with me
Jump on the table slide down the pole
You can wear your sable, you can bare your soul
From Reno down to Vegas
Casinos never close
All the movers and the shakers
The tango never knows
To the motor city that’s where I get my shoes
I need some inspiration – I gotta lotta time to lose
From Brady Square up to Jesmond Dene
And in La Dolce Vita I’ll find my beauty queen
In England there’s a moment
One nation in a groove
All the music and emotion
Will make you wanna move
(You can dance)
Take me to the river try singing in the rain
I like the jungle fever, it’s got me in the mood again
Oh Tutti Frutti, Jones Bar Hollywood
I like Campari soda, I’d can can if I could

2. Alphaville

( Ferry / Stewart )

Nobody knows you’re here
Deep under cover
You seem to be afraid
Why do you suffer
Another night
A night in Alphaville
This town is made for love
Let’s play together
In every bar and club
Now and forever
Another night
A night in Alphaville
You say you won’t
But girl I know you will
I’m hungry for your lies
You scream you whisper
A thousand alibis
You point the finger
Don’t try to read my mind
A broken circuit
You know my hands are tied
Nobody’s perfect
The world goes round
But here it stays the same
In second class
Nobody knows your name
I want to live
But life ain’t worth a dime
Lost in the light

3. Heartache By Numbers

( Ferry / Scissor Sisters )

I can’t stop from thinking
That love makes no sense
I’m burnt out from dreaming
‘Bout nobody else
Midnight to daybreak
I can’t believe the pain
The way you look, the way you talk,
The way you walk away
Oh I can’t take
Heartache by numbers
From violet to grey
I paint all your colours
I wash them away
I live for the moment
I long for the day
You walk in my garden
You lie in my shade
Every night I run around
With every girl in town
But I would rather stay at home
If you were still around
Midnight to daybreak
I’d do it all again
The way you look the way you talk
I’d be your lover not your friend
Oh I can’t stand

4. Me Oh My

( Ferry )

Me oh my – I can’t believe my eyes
Everything I care about is gone
I wonder why
Life is tough – no matter how I try
Tell me that I’m dreaming
Tell me it’s a lie
Me oh my – show me that you’re mine
Can’t you hear my beating heart
Go in and out of time
Me oh my – I can’t go on
What can I believe in
Now that you’re gone
Ring phone ring – a telephone line
Can’t you hear my beating heart
Go in and out of time
Out of my mind, out of the blue
Something incredible, so deja vu
How many times, broken in two
Maybe the same thing’ll happen to you
Me oh my – my world gone wrong
Running out, running out,
Of everything I want
Nothing is real, nothing is true
Wish I could say the same thing about you
How many times, broken in two
Wish I could stay, but I’m just passing through

5. Shameless

( Ferry / Cato / Findlay )

I can read your lips
I can read your mind
It’s all I want to hear
Why am I so blind?
And the way we were
Fatefully entwined
In a shameless world
Rock’n roll desire
All the things you are
In a single word
Famously inspired
Privately absurd
And the days go by
Morning, noon and night
Permanently wired
To a simple life
And the way we were
Fatefully entwined
In a shameless world
Rock’n roll desire

6. Song To The Siren

( Buckley / Beckett )

Long afloat on distant oceans
I did all my best to smile
Till your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang sail to me
Sail to me, let me enfold you
Here I am, here I am
Waiting to hold you
Did I dream you dreamed about me
Were you hare when I was fox
Now my foolish heart is leaning
Broken lovelorn on your rocks
For you sing, touch me not
Touch me not, come back tomorrow
Oh my heart, oh my heart
Shies from the sorrow
I am puzzled as the new born child
I am riddled as the tide
Should I stand amid the breakers
Should I lie with death my bride
Hear me sing, swim to me
Swim to me, let me enfold you
Here I am, here I am
Waiting to hold you

7. No Face, No Name, No Number

( Capaldi / Winwood )

I’m looking for a girl who has no face
She has no name or number
And so I search within this lonely place
Knowing that I won’t find her
Well I can’t stop this feeling
Deep inside of me
Ruling my mind
I feel no sound
Don’t know where I’m bound
The scenery is all the same to me
Nothing has changed or faded
I’m part of it, some part of me
Painted cool green and shaded
So try to find myself
Must be the only way
To feel free
Well I can’t stop this feeling
Deep inside of me
Ruling my mind
I’m looking for a girl who has no face
She has no name or number

8. BF Bass (Ode To Olympia)

( Ferry / Manzanera )

Trouble is your middle name
That’s a dangerous place to be
Within your mis-en-scene
There is no sobriety
No dancing in the street
No roaming on your phone
Your taste is bitter sweet
And your Facebook is your home
Love love you fit me like a glove
Love love I can’t get enough
You make me wild and weary
You make me sad
You’re Myspace now in theory
You’re YouTube mad
You’ll never know what it means
Living inside my dream
Visions of so many things
A thousand violins
Love love you fit me like a glove
Love love I can’t get enough

9. Reason Or Rhyme

( Ferry )

Why must you shed such tender tears
In the evening of your years
No other love could stem the tide
Of the loneliness I hide
Open your heart and let me live
All the promises I could give
The sun and moon and all the stars
They bow down to you whenever you pass
In a world of fading sadness
An emerald ring, a photograph
That look in your eyes the brush of your cheek
These are the moments in life that I seek
No reason or rhyme, no presence of mind
Just a dance to the music of time
Why must you shed such tender tears
In the evening of your years
No other love could stem the tide
Of the loneliness I hide
Inside out, upside down
Obscured by clouds, or underground
The sun and moon and all the stars
They bow down to you whenever you pass
Wherever you are, whenever you speak
These are the moments in my life that I seek
No reason or rhyme, by chance or design
Just a dance to the music of time

10. Tender Is The Night

( Ferry / Stewart )

Now picture this, my point of view
In an ideal world I see the likes of you
Such as it is, babes in the wood
At the best of times I feel misunderstood
No work, no play
A million miles away
Tender is the night
I’m frantic today
It makes no sense, you’d think of me
When I’m out of place in your society
I want to be, where strangers meet
I want to hold you at the dark end of the street
No work, no play
A million miles away
Tender is the night
I’m frantic today
Is this the end, then let me know
Are you wanting me to stay, or should I go?
Your fancy words, spin fast and loose
I’m too tongue-tied for the company you choose
No work, no play
A million miles away
Tender is the night
I’m frantic today

Olympia

1. You Can Dance

2. Alphaville

3. Heartache By Numbers

4. Me Oh My

5. Shameless

6. Song To The Siren

7. No Face, No Name, No Number

8. BF Bass (Ode To Olympia)

9. Reason Or Rhyme

10. Tender Is The Night

Olympia is Bryan Ferry’s 13th solo album, released on October 25th 2010 by Virgin Records. Several years in the making, Olympia contains the first original Bryan Ferry compositions to be released in nearly a decade, also featuring writing collaborations with Scissor Sisters, Groove Armada and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.

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