There are few pop albums that contain as much dreamy pleasure for me as Roxy Music’s Avalon. Although not particularly rare or unique, it still feels like a jewel in the crown of my collection. It’s a soft, romantic album that makes me fall in love with it over and over again with each and every listen.
Most people seem to be fans of the more ‘funky’ albums like their self-titled or For Your Pleasure. Actually, I think a lot of fans probably prefer Country Life, but I’m sure that’s probably preferring the cover art more than the actual content. Cheeky gits.
Speaking of cover art, this is possibly my favourite of the lot. It evokes so much mystery and atmosphere – much like the music itself. The cover model is Lucy Helmore, who would later a bride of Bryan Ferry’s. The two had four children together, including a son name Merlin which I find unbelievably fitting. The falcon, medieval helmet and mist imagery refer to the legendary island of Avalon – of which the album takes its name. Following its inspiration, the album is full of almost bard-like songs of love and loss.
The copy in my collection isn’t a first pressing, but I like to treat it as one. When the day comes that I have more money than sense, I will buy every copy of this album I come across because it’s just so good. This particular copy was nipped from a re-sale store. I had own the CD for a number of years before I dived into buying it on black. It instantly caught my eye because of that gorgeous cover. I had held the album dearly already, but seeing and hearing it in its full glory was some other experience entirely.
I’ve written about this album a number of times, but it really ranks as one of my favourites ever. Every summer I visited my parents, I kept this album in my car. It was on constant repeat. Especially before my poor car had a working air con, I would keep the windows down and drive down the long country roads, weaving in and out of the pine trees.
It’s such an evocative album, especially the two instrumentals India and Tara – the last being the name of one of Ferry’s future sons. But the singles (More Than This, Avalon and Take a Chance With Me) is a really strong set of songs. Not every Roxy Music album was great, but this last shot managed to get everything right. It’s a much more mature sound than many of their previous outings, but it pays off. Being the last album they ever released together, it feels like the perfect sending off.
Like Arthur’s trip to home. To Avalon.
Is there really anything more heart-shatteringly beautiful in music than Yanick Etienne’s voice on Avalon? I really don’t think so. Brings me to tears every time.