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In rotation: Roxy Music's 'Avalon'

November 17, 2011 |  1:54 pm

A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...

In rotation: Roxy Music's 'Avalon'

Last month, Bryan Ferry played his first L.A. show in a decade at the Greek Theatre. His set was covers-heavy, with takes on Dylan, Lennon, Neil Young and Sam & Dave; not to mention plenty of projections showing the cover of his new solo album “Olympia,” starring Kate Moss. So it’s worth digging back in his long catalog for a refresher on what made his band Roxy Music so inimitable. “Avalon,” the band’s 1982 swan song, is their least purposefully freaky, but maybe the best entry point.

Mixed by the studio ace of the era, Bob Clearmountain, it’s brimming with the perfect drum reverbs, chorus-soaked guitars and tape-warmed synths that today’s young bedroom producers skip school to imitate thirty years later. But Ferry’s voice is at the heights of its white-suited grandeur– “More Than This” deserved its Bill Murray karaoke cameo in “Lost in Translation;” the title track nails a party boy’s morning-after hopeful drug glaze; “To Turn You On” treads a line between Lennon’s melodic pleading and a proto punk-funk bassline. Even the instrumental passages drink deep from saxophone cheese (“Tara”) and moody synth psych (“India”) alike. Is it possible to make yacht rock arty? Roxy Music did it before either was a thing to be self conscious about.

Roxy Music


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--August Brown