- A stunning early UK pressing of this Roxy classic: Triple Plus (A+++) on the second side and Double Plus (A++) on the first
- Superb sound from start to finish — full-bodied and warm with wonderfully sweet vocals
- Copies that are exceptionally open, clear and big present this music the way it was meant to be heard
- Credit Rhett Davies with creating the sonic space that clearly displays so many singers, instruments and sounds
- “Ferry was never this romantic or seductive, either with Roxy or as a solo artist, and Avalon shimmers with elegance in both its music and its lyrics.”
It is records like Avalon that get people (often known as audiophiles) to spend wads and wads of money in pursuit of expensive analog equipment good enough to bring this wonderful music to life.
The album rewards a stereo with many of the qualities that audiophiles prize most highly when selecting equipment — spaciousness, transparency, clarity, detail, depth, soundstaging, speed, high frequency extension, and the like.
The copies that are exceptionally open, clear and big present this music the way it was meant to be heard. The mix is as dense as any we know. Only the best copies have the ability to show you everything that’s on the tape. Credit must go to the amazingly talented Rhett Davies for creating the space to put so many instruments and sounds in.
We would add to that list presence and energy, along with warmth, fullness and lack of smear on the transients. Whomp and rock and roll power do not seem to play much part in separating the best from the rest, although it’s nice when the bottom end is big and solid.
What to Listen for — The Title Track
The marvelous female vocalist Yanick Etienne, who sings so beautifully at the end of the title song, is standing in her own space at about the 10 o’clock position in the soundfield. At moderate levels she sounds very small and distant, but turn up your volume and she really starts to take on the attributes of a full-size, real live person standing just to the left and back a bit from the main proceedings. This level may be too loud on other songs; we noticed that Ferry’s vocals are very high up in the mixes as a rule, on the first track especially if I recall correctly, and at louder volumes — the ones we like to listen at — he’s going to get too hot. It’s a bit of a balancing act to find the right level for the music, but as loud as you can stand Ferry singing is probably a good place to start.
Only the most transparent copies will have you “seeing” Miss Etienne at the end of the song.
One more thing to listen for here, especially if you’re a fan, is the quality of Andy Mackay’s saxophone work. He plays mostly soprano on Avalon and his playing is surely responsible for much of the melancholy mood of the songs. Next time you play the album, focus especially on his parts and I think you will see how important his contribution is to this emotional power of the material. His plaintive tone has a resonance of regret and sadness that serves to bring out the longing at the heart of Ferry’s songwriting.
What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1982 – thanks Rhett Davies
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments (and effects!) having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
- No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above
More Than This
The Space Between
While My Heart Is Still Beating
The Main Thing
Take a Chance With Me
To Turn You On
True to Life
All Music Rave Review
Flesh + Blood suggested that Roxy Music were at the end of the line, but they regrouped and recorded the lovely Avalon, one of their finest albums. Certainly, the lush, elegant soundscapes of Avalon are far removed from the edgy avant-pop of their early records, yet it represents another landmark in their career.
With its stylish, romantic washes of synthesizers and Bryan Ferry’s elegant, seductive croon, Avalon simultaneously functioned as sophisticated make-out music for yuppies and as the maturation of synth pop. Ferry was never this romantic or seductive, either with Roxy or as a solo artist, and Avalon shimmers with elegance in both its music and its lyrics.
“More Than This,” “Take a Chance with Me,” “While My Heart Is Still Beating,” and the title track are immaculately crafted and subtle songs, where the shifting synthesizers and murmured vocals gradually reveal the melodies. It’s a rich, textured album and a graceful way to end the band’s career.
I’ve been a giant Roxy Music fan since 1975. Rolling Stone gave Siren a rave review that year, and I went right out and bought myself a copy on their say-so. I then proceeded to play it every day. This went on for weeks. I’m a bit obsessive that way. (Being obsessive is extremely helpful if you wish to excel in audio. It may in fact be the most important personality characteristic of them all.)
I consider them to be one of the greatest Art Rock bands in the history of the world. The general public and probably most audiophiles would surely cast their vote for Avalon as the band’s masterpiece. I much prefer their eponymous first album, Stranded, Country Life and Siren to the more “accessible” music found on Avalon.
To be fair, that’s splitting hairs, because any of those five titles are absolute Must Own Albums that belong in any serious popular music collection.