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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The English singer Bryan Ferry began his career as one of rock's most forward-looking musicians. In the early '70s his band Roxy Music electrified crowds with a look and sound that screamed modern glamour.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO THE STRAND")

BRYAN FERRY: There's a new sensation, a fabulous creation...

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The band mixed urban sophistication with a gender-bending flamboyance, and combined driving rock with a touch of the avant-garde.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO THE STRAND")

FERRY: (Singing) Do the strand, love, when you feel love.

WERTHEIMER: Later Ferry's songs took on a lush emotional quality that worked perfectly for the '80s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLAVE TO LOVE")

FERRY: (Singing) Slave to love, slave to love.

WERTHEIMER: That is "Slave to Love" from 1985 and here's what it might've sounded like in 1925.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLAVE TO LOVE")

WERTHEIMER: On his new record, Bryan Ferry has reworked his classic rock songs in the style of 1920s jazz.

FERRY: For quite a few years, I'd wanted to do an instrumental album of my songs, something where the spotlight was on me as the songwriter, rather than me as the singer.

WERTHEIMER: Indeed Ferry is best known as the suave front man, but he also writes a lot of the music sitting at the piano, although he does not play the piano here.

FERRY: I'm not actually a good enough player to play on this.

WERTHEIMER: So with help from an arranger and a cast of top British musicians, Ferry set to work.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I THOUGHT")

FERRY: (Singing) I thought you'd be my streetcar named Desire.

This one was kind of a slow, thoughtful kind of moody piece. And we ended up doing it a kind of Dixieland kind of joyful celebration kind of song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I THOUGHT")

WERTHEIMER: And there's this song...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIRGINIA PLAIN")

FERRY: (Singing) Make me a deal and make it straight.

WERTHEIMER: ...which turned into this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIRGINIA PLAIN")

FERRY: A lot of the songs seem to fit well in. I guess it's because basically they're quite simple songs. They seem to lend very well to being arranged in this way, you know.

WERTHEIMER: Ferry says he could've done it as a classical album, but there's something about this old jazz.

FERRY: The life it has, you know, it's quite infectious.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIRGINIA PLAIN")

WERTHEIMER: Bryan Ferry's new album is called "The Jazz Age" and is out this week. For a limited time, you can hear "The Jazz Age" in its entirety at NPRmusic.org. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIRGINIA PLAIN")

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