You donÁ¢€™t get much more Á¢€Ëœright place, right timeÁ¢€™ than Bryan Ferry and his sole Top 40 entry, Á¢€Å“Kiss and Tell.Á¢€ Despite his superstar status in his native England Á¢€” 16 Top 40 singles as a member of Roxy Music, 16 Top 40 singles as a solo artist Á¢€” Ferry couldnÁ¢€™t buy a hit in America. He did have one thing working in his favor, though: MTV. They loved Ferry, putting several of his songs into much higher rotation than his chart success would suggest they deserved. In return, he gave the network the perception of good taste and hipster cool, something that came in handy between the videos for Á¢€Å“Tarzan BoyÁ¢€ and Á¢€Å“Kyrie.Á¢€
In 1987, Ferry went for the brass ring on BÁƒªte Noire, using MadonnaÁ¢€™s producer (Patrick Leonard), a discarded Smiths song (Johnny Marr gave Á¢€Å“Love Changes EverythingÁ¢€ to Ferry, who christened it Á¢€Å“The Right StuffÁ¢€), and, as always, David Gilmour. The album featured FerryÁ¢€™s trademark sultry lounge cool, but was a decidedly more upbeat affair in comparison to his 1985 solo album Boys & Girls and Roxy MusicÁ¢€™s swan song Avalon. That newfound enthusiasm was apparently contagious: Reprise placed the albumÁ¢€™s second single, Á¢€Å“Kiss and TellÁ¢€ (download), on the soundtrack for Bright Lights, Big City, where it rubbed shoulders with Depeche Mode, New Order, Prince and M/A/R/R/S. The movie was a crashing bore, but the soundtrack, home to two recent Top 40 hits (New OrderÁ¢€™s Á¢€Å“True FaithÁ¢€ and M/A/R/R/SÁ¢€™ Á¢€Å“Pump Up the VolumeÁ¢€), was a modest hit out of the box. That modest success lent itself to Ferry, propelling the song to #31 on the US charts, which is ten spots better than it did on the UK charts, strangely enough.
Now for the tough love: the lyrics to Á¢€Å“Kiss and TellÁ¢€ are pretty damn bad, even for a Ferry song. (Hey, I love Ferry as much as anyone, but he was prone to some purple-ass prose.) Ten cents a dance, love for sale, Adam and Eve, faded magazine, flash photograph. Wowzers. Those are not deep thoughts, though feel free to insert your own Á¢€Ëœvapid late-Á¢€Ëœ80s radioÁ¢€™ joke here. What the song lacked in lyrical prowess, though, it made up for with a catchy chorus and, once mixer Alan Meyerson was finished with it, a monster rhythm section, featuring a typewriter percussion track that predates the score for Atonement by 20 years. MeyersonÁ¢€™s mix is pure muscle, putting a huge flange over the guitar solo and fleshing the rhythm section out with about a dozen percussion tracks. Perhaps the most surprising thing about MeyersonÁ¢€™s 12Á¢€ mix is that the edit work by the splice-happy Latin Rascals Á¢€” making their third but by no means last WLW appearance Á¢€” is more low-key than usual, only flashing their wares after the first chorus. They are, however, given carte blanche on the dub mix (download), and the Rascals waste no time hacking Ferry to bits.
MTVÁ¢€™s love affair with Ferry would end soon after the success of Á¢€Å“Kiss and Tell.Á¢€ The third single from BÁƒªte Noire, Á¢€Å“Limbo,Á¢€ received only mild interest, and by the time the Á¢€Ëœ90s hit, Ferry was out of the picture completely. And one suspects that Ferry was perfectly fine with that, knowing that the success of Á¢€Å“Kiss and TellÁ¢€ owed more to good fortune than anything. Like most artistsÁ¢€™ biggest hits, it is by no means FerryÁ¢€™s best song, but itÁ¢€™s not an embarrassment, either.
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