A band who helped define the 70s cover a song from the 70s by a man who barely outlived the 70s – and yet the cool precision of “Jealous Guy” makes it a recording utterly of the 1980s. The record’s attention to clinical detail seems to will compact discs into being: every instrument is perfectly, unhurriedly placed. Synthesiser washes like marble tiles; thick brushstrokes of guitar; the thread of whistling that plays the song out – “Jealous Guy” is immaculate.
But somehow incomplete. There’s a hollow, a loss at the record’s heart – not of John Lennon mind you; there’s been enough mourning, and Bryan Ferry respects the song too much to twist it into an overt tribute. But while Lennon’s hesitant original is recognisably being sung to someone, you don’t get that feeling with Roxy. Lennon’s is a plea for forgiveness; Roxy’s is a post-mortem. Its well-tailored arrangement is futile in its perfection, mocking almost: Ferry is wandering around an empty penthouse, pleading with a lover who won’t be coming back. And so that whistling again, going on so long it’s almost absurd, through romantic to pathetic and ending up the loneliest sound in the world.