Roxy Music's albums in the 70's representing the cutting edge of avant-garde pop music. For their final release, Avalon in 1982, they shift gears towards the soulful sounds that lead singer Bryan Ferry would explore on his solo albums. As depicted on the album's cover, the band crafts a lush, airy and ethereal sound. The songs are awash in sophisticated synthesizers and longing guitar riffs. Mr. Ferry broodingly sings seductive and smart lyrics. "More Than This" is one of the most elegant love songs around. Mr. Ferry sings with longing and heartbreaking weariness and Phil Manzanera's guitar shimmers throughout. The song is quite simply a masterpiece. The title track is another elegantly crafted love song that is subtle and beautiful. "While My Heart Is Still Beating" has a terse, propulsive beat that literally thumps throughout. The only problem with Avalon is that is woeful short. The ten tracks clock in at barely over thirty-five minutes and two ("India" and "Tara") are short instrumentals. That aside, Avalon, set the standard for romantic synth-pop that countless bands in the 80's tried to copy, but could never replicate.
on June 23, 2004
After hearing some DVD Audios and SACD's, I have to say that by far, this record contains the finest sound of all. This is the very first opportunity to hear how well crafted is the sound of Roxy Music in this record.
Bob Clearmountain, one of the original engineers in charge, says it better in the booklet: "While the band, Rhett Davies and I were working on the original stereo mixes in 1982, I can recall imagining the sound image as being more than just "stereo". There was so many wonderful things going on, I'd wish I'd had more places to put them than just 2 speakers. I wanted to be totally immersed in the album's soundscapes". About the new mix he adds: "it is how I'd always imagined this album should be presented -the sorround experience actually drawing you inside the music". Maybe other people have said the same about other records being remixed for 5.1. But after hearing AVALON, you'll really understand what Mr. Bob's excitement is all about.
If you are a Roxy Music fan, and SACD Multi Channel amplifier owner, this is a must have. The SACD layer contains an additional song not included in the original version of AVALON, called ALWAYS UNKNOWING (take note that this song is not included in the stereo layer). It's funny, but for me, this song (which is a very good ballad far from being a simple and uninteresting extra) gives this album a completion that I've always missed from the original record...It's as if there was something missing. But now, it's complete.
Note: This record is not made in the USA, but imported from Europe. I'd wish Amazon would give us the opportunity of having more SACD's only available in UK by now. But this is also to tell you that maybe, just maybe, there aren't many copies in store.
on June 14, 2000
After reigniting their creative fuse with FLESH + BLOOD, the time seemed to be right for Roxy Music to be a band again. But there was still dissension, and Bryan Ferry seemed to have more fun with his solo career than being the leader of a band. So before AVALON was demoed, it seemed this was intended to be Roxy's second and presumably final swan song. While it's an album that could have used a follow-up, AVALON is still an appropriate farewell to Roxy. With members approaching middle age, their mellowing out in their later years now seems warranted. "More Than This" could only have come to pass as a slightly beat-driven ballad. Phil Manzanera's guitar work is his all-time greatest, and his opening figure on "More Than This" has to be the most beautiful use of electric guitar ever recorded. And for the first time in ages, Bryan Ferry turns in a convincingly emotional performance on a song that could also be a goodbye to his days as leader of Roxy Music. While they hadn't really had a hit since "Love Is The Drug", I'll bet songs like the title track, "The Space Between", "While My Heart Is Still Beating," "To Turn You On", and "Take A Chance With Me" had to be the smoothest pop music permeating from the world's radios in 1982 (I was only 2 at the time). Roxy's first "break-up" was really a hiatus of sorts, but so far, 18 years after AVALON, it appears as if Roxy Music really is no more. If that's the case, then thank you, Roxy, for going out with some style.
on June 11, 2006
I read the reviews for this hybrid SACD with great interest, wondering if the CD layer was as fantastic as the SACD layer was reported to be. I bought the standard CD remaster several years ago when it first came out, but even though it was a big improvement over the original CD release, it was still a little disappointing. I just finished my first listening of the CD layer on this hybrid, and I can whole heartedly, and without any reservations, say that this CD is everything I hoped it would be. Folks, if you have a critical ear for sound quality, this is the version you want to buy. It will play on any standard CD player or SACD player.
on October 13, 2005
If there were any album that I thought would be impossible to improve with technology, it would be Roxy Music's Avalon. The sound stage of the original was rich and full, yet the separation and detail were amazingly accurate. Avalon's masterful engineering helped make it Roxy Music's magnum opus and one of the greatest recordings of all time. Improving on it would take more than just a new technology that utilized 3 more channels. In short, this is not an album that could be pimped.
That being said, it took less than 30 seconds of hearing track one, More Than This, to convince me of two things. First, Sony not only improved what I thought was impossible to improve-they greatly improved it. Second, all the money I spent upgrading my audio system to utilize SACD was money well spent.
SACD recordings often sound untrue to the original; the engineers seem to over exploit the technology and disrupt the feel of the original recording. Maybe it was in effort to avoid this that Sony sought the help of two people who were involved in the original mixing of the album, Rhett Davies and Bob Clearmountain. Two veteran mixers maximized the technology without interfering with the sound or feel of the original. Maybe it is the brilliant job these two did; maybe it is the richness of the music; or maybe it is both, but this new version doesn't seem to add as much as it seems to reveal. This recording of Avalon sounds like it was written to be played on SACD.
The original recording of Avalon probably spun more times in my CD player than any other CD, yet it seems brand new. Every song on the album benefits from the new recording, but track 6, The Main Thing, seems to make the most of the 3 extra channels and the increased sound spectrum. The vocals and percussions are so detailed and crisp that they truly fulfill all the audiophile clichés about "perfect clarity" or "being true to life." The title track, Avalon, seems to drop Brian Ferry just a few feet in front of the listener while over the listener's shoulders, Phil Manzanera plays guitar and background singers help fill the room with hauntingly sweet vocals. The experience is amazing. This track was the first SACD recording where I truly felt center-stage.
As an added bonus, this recording provides what every fan of the original recording wishes they had- more. The SACD has an additional track added on the end, Always Unknowing. It is definitely "A" quality, however it may have been better suited for RM's previous album, Flesh and Blood. It doesn't quite deliver the lush, ambient sound that the other Avalon tracks deliver. Plus, the original final track, Tara, was the perfect finale.
If you are still not sure why you spent money on a SACD player, this version of Avalon will eliminate all uncertainty. Even if you were unfamiliar with the original or not a fan of it, you will not be able to refrain from enjoying the experience provided by this disc. It is remarkable.
on June 6, 2003
For years now, I've gone back and forth over what is my favorite ROXY MUSIC album. They never made a bad one, in my opinion. Even MANIFESTO has a few decent tracks. While I'd have to say that FOR YOUR PLEASURE or SIREN are the best examples of why ROXY MUSIC remain unequaled and contain some of their best work, I think that, at the end of the day, AVALON is their masterpiece.
There is a mood and atmosphere that surrounds this album that no other album, by any artist has achieved. From the haunting, opening chords of the exquisite "More Than This," to the sea-drenched melody at the end of the beautiful "Tara," the music on this disc is 37 minutes of complete and utter erotic bliss.
"More Than This," the title track, "Take a Chance with Me," "The Main Thing," and "True to Life," rank as some of the best songs in the ROXY MUSIC catalog.
Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music inspired two generations of musicians with their music. In the 1980's, their influence loomed large over the new-romantic sounds of bands like ABC, DURAN DURAN and DEPECHE MODE (to name just three!), and in the 1990's, right on up to today, one can hear and see their influence in such Brit bands like RADIOHEAD, SUEDE and PULP.
It is AVALON, their studio swan-song, that is perhaps their most groundbreaking and innovative work. Without hesitation, this is my pick for Best Album of the 1980's. Even Rolling Stone Magazine had it in their top 100 of the 80's. I'm even willing to go out on a limb and put it as my favorite album of all time- alongside the likes of The Beatles "Abbey Road," and U2's "Achtung Baby."
And, yes, it's true what's been said time and time again about AVALON- it is, undoubtedly, THE album to have playing for the ideal intimate encounter!
on September 30, 2006
Roxy Music's final hour was characterized by lush atmospherics similar to Joy Division or Tears for Fears. I love "Avalon" because it is so strikingly different from everything else that they have recorded. "For Your Pleasure" is one of the greatest albums of the 70s, but "Avalon" definitely tops the 80s list.
It is haunting, austere, and sparse. It is like the band died of natural causes and this album acts as a ghostly afterthought. It has been 24 years since its release, and it still gives me chills. It is the aural equivalent of those brisk October nights when the leaves change in the half-light.The depth of emotion is unrivaled in albums from the 80s or any other decade for that matter.It will certainly haunt me for the rest of my life.
on June 26, 2004
Using the legend of King Arthur's final, dying voyage to Avalon for its name and cover art, Roxy Music bid its fans farewell with this hopelessly romantic, completely beautiful album. There's no point on trying to embellish on what most of the other reviewers have already mentioned about AVALON but I'm compelled to say that while I have been a Roxy Music fan for a long, long time, I have not been much of a fan of the heavily produced, synthesizer ladened songs that proliferated in the early 80s (read Flock of Sea Gulls, Human League, etc.). But AVALON was much different. Some of the songs here are textured and layered, but not bogged down. There's an airiness to other tunes but they don't become insubstantial or gossamer.
Overall, it's the intelligence of the lyrics that really separated AVALON from just about everything else back then. The twin themes of mortality and desire pervade most of the tunes on the first half of the album. But Bryan Ferry doesn't wallow in self-pity for long. Just when the songs start to appear to be downers, along comes "To Turn You On", an incredibly upbeat, love ballad. While its theme of salvation through passion is not new, its sincerity and romance is. I'm glad that Ferry made room for some of the positive aspects of life. And I'm glad that the music world of the early 1980s made room for AVALON.
on October 8, 2004
I've listened to this album non stop for 20 years and will never grow tired of it. I know that it might be one of those time and place type albums, but even when I play this at work, my students ask who it is. This was Bryan Ferry and company in top form, never again to be duplicated. I can't say anything that hasn't been said about it. Pick it up and call it a night.
on October 23, 1999
OK, here's the deal: I grew up in the 80's listening to Roxy Music on vinyl and life was good. Then came the CD and record companies simply "dumped" all the world's music straight onto CD with no attention to the shortcomings of digital media. The result: my lovely music such as that found on Roxy Music's Avalon ended up sounding thin, hashy, and downright poor. I commend the remastering of this album - it is one of the best of the 80's and this treatment provides the listener to an aural treat full of rich textures, subtle sounds and lush instrumentation. I wish more companies would go back through their catalogue of 1st issue CDs and give them a once- over for the millenium. I look forward to a remastered version of "Flesh and Blood" next.