Manifesto/Flesh + Blood/Avalon

Roxy Music

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Manifesto/Flesh + Blood/Avalon Review

by Dave Thompson

If it's true that the Roxy Music catalog can be divided into three very distinct eras -- that is, the Eno albums, the Eddie Jobson years and, following a three year break, the later era, this gathering of the band's final three albums is as thematically flawless as one could wish. From the tentative electro stylings of Manifesto through the lush soundscapes of Avalon, Roxy Music first formulated, then experimented with, and finally perfected one of the signature sounds of the '80s -- just as their earlier incarnations had laid so much of the groundwork for the glam, post-punk and New Romantic styles beforehand. Whether or not this was a good thing, of course, is another matter entirely. But at least Roxy did it well. Of the three albums included in this box set, Manifesto remains the finest. Highlighted with "Trash" and proceeding on through the near-conceptual "East" and "West" sides that represented, respectively, the band's perception of European and American dance styles, it was a massively influential album, opening the commercial door for any number of subsequent electro mavens to flood through. Its successors were less vital, but remain enjoyable. Received history insists that Flesh + Blood was the band's weakest ever release, but any album that includes the hits "Oh Yeah," "Same Old Scene" and "Over You," plus captivating appropriations of "In the Midnight Hour" and "Eight Miles High" has more going for it than one might believe. Avalon, too, receives short shrift from fans who live only for such epics as "In Every Dreamhome a Heartache" and "If There Is Something," but the relentless swirl and miasmic romance of the album's finest moments is darkly compelling anyway.