The legendary Bryan Ferry returns with his brand new studio album Olympia on October 26, his debut for EMI’s Astralwerks Records. The album features musical contributions from Nile Rodgers, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Groove Armada, Scissor Sisters, Marcus Miller, Flea, ex Stone Roses Mani (Primal Scream) and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. It also sees Bryan Ferry reunite on record with members of Roxy Music, including Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, and Andy Mackay. In a review of Olympia’s lead single “You Can Dance,” Rolling Stone wrote “the layered guitars and Ferry’s suave croon make for an elegant celebration of sexual tension.”
BRYAN FERRY ON THE OLYMPIA COVER ART:
“It’s been quite a while since I put out an album featuring my own compositions, and Olympia is just that. It’s taken a long time, and a lot of great musicians, old and new, contributed their talents to make it what it is, so naturally it’s a very important record for me. Some people have already mentioned that Olympia sounds more like a Roxy Music album than any of my previous solo records, and this is probably true.
I approached the record with the same intensity as the early Roxy Music albums, and I wanted the artwork to represent this. One of the inspirations for the cover was the 19th century painting ‘Olympia’ by Edouard Manet – a kind of early pin-up picture, and in a sense a forerunner of some 20th Century Pop Art, which I feel strongly connected to.
The picture shows a young courtesan lying on a bed, receiving flowers from her maid, which are no doubt a gift from her lover. She wears very little more than a provocative expression, and the painting created quite an uproar when it was first exhibited in Paris. There’s an interesting essay on this, written by Michael Bracewell, which is featured in the 40 page ‘deluxe’ version of the album.
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 photoshoot, so everything happened at the last minute (which is often the way with ‘rock ‘n roll). The shoot took place at Sunbeam Studios in 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.”
PHOTOGRAPHER ADAM WHITEHEAD ON THE KATE MOSS PHOTOSHOOT:
“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!”