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Roxy Music – Avalon

January 23, 2016

  
A reference recording to me is an album that sounds great and that I am intimately familiar with.  Because of that, it is an excellent tool to test drive a stereo or stereo equipment.  It has to be so beloved by me that I can play it over and over and never get sick of it.  Roxy Music’s Avalon is one of my reference recordings.  I have it on CD, SACD and LP. Avalon is about as gourmet pop as you can get.  It is smooth, sophisticated and timeless.  

I was not a Roxy Music fan when I picked up Avalon when it was first released in 1982.  It must have gotten a great review in Stereo Reveiw or some other magazine to get on my radar.  I instantly fell in love with it and I have never tired of it in the three-plus decades since.  I checked out the rest of their catalog, but nothing else from their catalog ever resonated with me like Avalon (however several titles from Bryan Ferry’s catalog have worked for me).  To this day I must play it 4 or 5 times a year.  

Why do I like this album so much?  First and foremost is the sonics of the recording.  It is atmospheric, yet it swings.  There is great separation between the instruments.  There is great depth to the arrangements.  Second it is the aloof detachment of Bryan Ferry’s voice. It is bit of Bowie, but more conventionally beautiful.  It is totally British, yet soulful.  Finally, it is the great songwriting.  Great songs beget great covers (check out “More Than This” covers by Lucy Kaplansky and Charlie Hunter & Norah Jones).  

This is an album that can be played as background music at a dinner party and can be played loud front and center.  If at first you find it to be boring ambient pop – turn it up and force yourself to immerse in the warm blanket of its sound.  As smooth as this is, there is an undercurrent of sophistication and quite storm funk.  

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