Bryan Ferry has always loved doing cover versions. On the Roxy Music lead singer's first two solo albums (These Foolish Things and Another Time Another Place), he imbibed casual-distant cool into such songs as "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." As Time Goes By goes even further back in time, revisiting the fundamental things in the form of old jazz standards, including Cole Porter tracks ("Miss Otis Regrets") and of course the title track.
The problem is, the album doesn't swing. Ferry's winking suaveness would seem perfectly suited to these tunes, but instead Ferry merely comes across as an oddly restrained lounge singer, tired of singing the same songs for the umpteenth time. There's none of the gusto or the delicious abandon of his other covers, and the minimal production on the album doesn't help matters: the horns never are quite brassy enough, and Ferry's voice sounds muted at points. Instead of being languidly wistful, as one presumes he intended, "Falling in Love Again" and "Where or When" is merely sluggish. Perhaps we've heard these standards so often it's hard to be excited by these decidedly ordinary interpretations. Still, Ferry's voice remains rich and true; on that you can rely. B --