Monday, January 23, 2006

It was fun for a while, there was no way of knowing

Almost comically, Avalon is a notorious seduction aid, the musical equivalent of Spanish Fly: Any bachelor who plays it risks announcing his depraved intentions in neon letters, ALL CAPS.

- Rob Tannenbaum, Village Voice

Roxy Music's Avalon, Merritt's pick for 1982, is indeed a swanky album, and it's one of the few Roxy Music releases that doesn't feature a trashy woman on its cover. It makes one imagine white-tie affairs with socialites straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel mingling and having torrid, consequence-free trysts at beach houses on the French Riviera. It just oozes sophistication, with Bryan Ferry's suave voice singing unabashedly passionate lyrics like "I'd do anything to turn you on" (or, more smugly, "All the world, even you, should learn to love the way I do.") This world overlaps with Merritt's world, full of attractive and brooding people (see the cover of Get Lost), hopeless romantics who dance among chandeliers and avoid hard labor.

With an art school background, the group was formed in the early 70s by Bryan Ferry with a lineup that included Brian Eno, whose synth stylings added an experimental side to the band's glam rock. Eno was gone from the picture after two albums, and the outfit continued their furious pace of recording, releasing a total of five albums between 1972 and 1975. They gradually moved away from their rock tendencies, with more emphasis on soul, and by the time Flesh + Blood was released in 1980, their edge was practically gone. This led to the smoothness that is Avalon, the band's 8th and final studio album; after a tour to support that album, Bryan Ferry ended the group and focused on his solo career.

This week, we have two selections from Avalon, and it's an album that is hard to describe without making it sound like some insufferable adult contemporary release. True, it is lite rock, and it does feature saxophone flourishes, but they pull it off with taste and finesse.

Roxy Music - "More Than This"
Roxy Music - "Avalon"


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