Avalon – Roxy Music (1982)

Avalon album cover
Avalon album cover

Id only knew of Roxy Music as the maker of art glam rock that I frankly was not much a fan of. So when I heard  ‘More Than This’ for the first time on MTV, I knew who it was, but was surprised by the smoothness of  Roxy Music’s new sound. Either way, I knew I had to have that album.

That album was Avalon, the band’s eight and final studio recording. Roxy Music started out as an art rock band in 1971 that included heavy weights like Brian Eno and Paul Carrack at one time. Their untamed sound had plenty of ruff edges, but by the time Avalon was recorded in 1982, Roxy Music had mellowed out to a kind of new wave Sinatra for the ’80s. It was about as close as new wave was gonna get to adult contemporary.

Lead vocalist Brian Ferry’s vocals always had the effect of smoothing out the rough edges of Roxy Music early music. His Bowie-like style would help push Avalon on to the charts in America and make it a #1 album in Britain.  The album was packed with beautiful songs that were full of atmospherics and jazz-like arrangements.  While not necessarly singles songs like ‘True to Life’ exemplified the mood and tone of Avalon’s lush arrangements.

Synthesizers were present, but were not front and center. On songs like ”The Space Between’ the occasional synthesizer embellishment sounded like they could have come from David Bowie’s Scary Monsters.

Bryan Ferry may have lacked the vocal range of David Bowie, but he appealed to a similar audience. Along with ‘More Than This’ the single ‘Avalon’ would showcase Ferry’s flair for drama with lush beautifully made music videos. The laid back nature of the album could have been a result of  being recorded in the Bahamas, but Avalon was part of a movement of elegant new wave rock that included Icehouse and The Blue Nile.

Avalon became something of a dry run for Ferry’s initially successful solo career with Boys and Girls following in 1985. Avalon is considered one of the best albums of the ’80s by many critics. It’s unfortunate that the band would have its most successful recording at the end of its career, but Brian Ferry seemed to have picked up where Avalon left off and is still active today. Ferry’s last album was The Jazz Age was released in 2012.

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