On March 31, 1979, a “new entry” landed on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart at #59. It was identified as an album from Roxy Music titled Come Down to Earth.
Apparently no one from the band or Atco Records was paying much attention to Billboard Magazine because the next week, April 7, it moved up to #48 on the charts, but was now listed as Come Down to Earth by the band Manifesto. This mislabeling continued for two more weeks as the LP jumped to #35 and #33. It wasn’t until the April 28th issue that Roxy Music’s Manifesto was properly identified (at #30 on the charts).
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Perhaps no one was paying attention to the British band Roxy Music. It had been more than three years since the release of Siren (and its Top 30 hit “Love Is the Drug”) and the band went on hiatus after the release of their live Viva Roxy album in 1976.
During that time, lead singer Bryan Ferry released three solo albums (the very enjoyable Let’s Stick Together in ’76, In Your Mind in ’77 and The Bride Stripped Bare in ’78); guitarist Phil Manzanera released solo work (Diamond Head ’75 and K-Scope ’78) while forming other groups—Quiet Sun (Mainstream in ’75) and 801 with former Roxy Music band mate Brian Eno (and released two wonderful LPs: 801 Live in ’76 and Listen Now in ’77); and saxophonist Andy Mackay released Resolving Contradictions in 1978 (his second solo LP, following In Search of Eddie Riff in ’74).
Roxy Music got back together in the fall of ’78 to record their sixth studio LP, Manifesto. The album featured a more accessible sound than previous albums. It included disco-tinged dance singles “Angel Eyes” and “Dance Away” (the latter went to #44 on the Billboard Hot 100) and featured much of the soulful pop found on Ferry’s solo efforts. Manifesto became the band’s most successful release in the US, peaking at #23 (it went to #7 in the UK, the band’s poorest performance on the British album charts since their debut).
A worldwide tour began in February of ’79. The shows, often performed at small and intimate venues, opened with the album’s title track, written by Ferry and Manzanera, which had the industrial, prog-rock sounds from the band’s past (“Bogus Man” from For Your Pleasure comes to mind). Whenever I hear this song, I can still see the lights fading up as the band plays, awaiting Ferry to take the stage.
Billboard Top LPs & Tape (March 31, 1979, with #59 inset)