First Appeared at The Music Box, August 2001, Volume 8, #8
Written by John Metzger
Over the years, Roxy Music has been given more credit than it is due, being falsely heralded for creating everything from progressive rock to glam and new wave. What the band was exceptionally good at, however, was synthesizing sounds, and its overall influence on music was indisputable. Nevertheless, the group’s on-again, off-again career spawned a number of great songs, but it failed to produce many great albums.
The lone exception to this was Roxy Music’s 1982 swan song Avalon — a masterpiece of mood that conveys as much emotion through its watery, atmospheric grooves as it does through its lyrics. Bass and drums combine in an early ’80s club scene rhythm and convey the songs’ sexual tension as well as a sense of mystique. And, there is a jazzy elegance to each of the tracks as keyboards join with saxophone and oboe in a sensual, yet spiritual dance over which float shimmering guitar and dreamy vocals.
More Than This and the title track are unquestionably two of the best songs Roxy Music ever recorded, but the other eight selections that round out the disc — from the ambient, yearning swirl of The Space Between to the tender strains of While My Heart Is Still Beating and from the guitar and synth grind of The Main Thing to the soulful sense of hope on True to Life — are sure-fire runners-up. How Avalon ever became known as a great romantic endeavor, however, is a wonder. Its lyrics mine the fertile ground of heartbreak and loss as well as the human need for connection and love. Perhaps, it is simply the music that earned this album its reputation. Avalon is not only a classic that has stood the test of time, but it also remains one of the most stunningly beautiful albums ever to be recorded.
Avalon is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box