Roxy Music was only in business for about a decade, but during that time they made incredibly daring music that was at times so unique it defied description.
It still has that effect today. If you play their first few albums, there’s really nothing to indicate that they came out in the 1970s, the 1990s, or yesterday. All of their albums hold up too.
Unfortunately, as happens with a lot of bands that see turnover in their ranks, fans divided themselves into factions. You have people who swear by the first two albums, when Brian Eno was in the band, and nothing else. Or maybe they prefer the middle period, where the band gave us gems like “Love Is the Drug.” But what a large number of fans will agree on is that their output started to go downhill with the last couple of albums, and that by their last album, 1982’s “Avalon,” the group was just trafficking in safe, vanilla pop music that took no chances and – ugh! — courted the top 40.
This is true. What is also true is that when I want to listen to this band, and I don’t put on my way awesome, specially-customized playlist, “Avalon” is the album I always put on, every time.
I came to a lot of music at a time that wasn’t necessarily “right,” thanks to MTV. I first heard Roxy Music when I was 13 via that channel, when they played the videos for “More Than This” and the title track from “Avalon.” At that time, the band was a decade old, a total dinosaur.
I knew nothing about the group whatsoever, nothing about what I was supposed to like about them, or who Brian Eno was. All I knew was that I really liked both of those songs a lot, and I soon reported to my friendly neighborhood music store, allowance in hand, to buy the tape. Yes, the tape. I wore that tape out, too.
Because I’m obsessive, I eventually got all their other music as quickly as my allowance would let me. I liked all of it, except maybe “Manifesto,” which I felt wasn’t quite up to par with the other stuff. But all of it was great, in one way or another, and I still believe they don’t have any bad albums.
Still, “Avalon” has remained my go-to album when I want to listen to Roxy Music. This despite being informed by people much hipper than I that this is wrong, this is bad, and I should have to turn in my musical credibility card to the office from whence it came.
These people are right. So I’ll get right around to turning in my cred card as soon as I’ve listened to the “Avalon” album a few more times in its entirety.