Many readers will be familiar with Roxy Music. The English art rock band formed in the early 1970's, and went on to have huge success in Britain, where every one of their studio albums broke the top 10, including three number ones. In the U.S., they were significantly less successful, although they built a loyal following through the 1970's and early 1980's.
The band was known for their sophistication, particularly lead singer Bryan Ferry -- perhaps the most debonair rock star ever. As is often the case, their sound evolved over time, and gradually became less art rock and more atmospheric pop, although there was often a strong pop sensibility to their songs. The band's final album, 1982's Avalon, represented something of a peak for the band. Incredibly lush and layered, it is a real work of art. Much of the music was written by Ferry while he was on vacation on the West coast of Ireland and their is something of an ethereal vibe that runs through the entire LP.
I don't use the word masterpiece much on the blog (I think the only other time that I have used it was for The Waterboys song "The Whole of the Moon") but I think that "More Than This" qualifies. The striking guitar line, the lyrics, the synthesizers all paint a musical picture that is haunting, with a gentle sadness. "More Than This" also has a spectacular, lingering outro that perfectly suits the song.
Amazingly, "More Than This" did not break the top 100 in the U.S. (#103), although it was a top 10 hit in the U.K. and Australia. The Avalon album peaked at #53 in the U.S., (it was a #1 LP in Britain). The video might be a tad bit overdone, but it does seem to suit the band and the song.
Bryan Ferry broke up Roxy Music soon after Avalon's release, and went on to have a successful solo career (particularly in the U.K). The band did re-form and toured in the early 2000's, but Ferry has stated that he does not intend to release another Roxy Music album.
Cool trivia fact: Roxy Music is a U.S. one hit wonder. Their only top 40 hit was "Love is the Drug" (#30) from 1975.
Cool trivia fact #2: 10,000 Maniacs 1997 cover of "More Than This" hit #25 on the Billboard charts -- higher than any Roxy Music single ever, and much higher than the superior original version. Go figure.
Cool trivia fact #3: Rolling Stone rated Avalon as the 31st best album of the 1980's.