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Articles Home » 2003 Articles » Aviary - 2003 Ambition [Review #1]
Aviary - 2003 Ambition [Review #1]

ARTIST: Aviary
ALBUM: Ambition
LABEL: AV Records
YEAR: 2003


LINEUP: Brad Love - vocals * Toby Bowen - guitars, vocals * Paul Madden - keyboards, vocals * Ken Steimonts - bass, vocals * Richard Bryans - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hello * 02 The Sun, The Sand * 03 Apathy * 04 Ambition * 05 You * 06 Desert Songs/Pharoahs March * 07 I Should Of Known * 08 Evas Birthday * 09 Fine Lines * 10 Working Girl * 11 Yes And No


Fans of overblown pomp rock, particularly from the era of the late seventies and early eighties, will have no problems picking out their favourites, even 20 or more years after the heyday of pomp has come and gone. Bands like Trillion, Air Raid, Russia, Roadmaster, Angel and Face Dancer were all mighty exponents of the sub-genre. Perhaps the most underrated and mightiest of them all was an American band originally from Washington state called Aviary. You'll get no complaint from Mister Pomp himself. Stephen B Allen is a long time supporter of the band, and the provider of useful biographical liner notes for both the debut Aviary re-release from 2001, plus this new second set of unreleased material from these perennial Aviarists! This one is called 'Ambition'. Whereas the Aviary debut (which sprang forth from 1979 courtesy of Epic Records) is a mildly addictive brew of quirky but commercial pomp which fuses Queen and The Beatles to good effect, 'Ambition' highlights the bands busy and industrious songwriting period between 1977 and 1979. Even while the band were recording their debut album at Caribou Ranch Studios during the early part of 1979, they were still writing at a great pace. Many of those songs now appear on 'Ambition'.

The Songs
Aviary's strengths lie in tight musical structures, stunning multi-part vocal harmonies, quirky but interesting arrangements, and the ability to sound (on different tracks at least) as American or as British as you please! Let me commence the song review by saying that a tertiary qualification from the School of Pomp and Circumstance is required before venturing forth with 'Ambition'. The songs themselves contain some 'zany references' throughout, with hints of Todd Rundgren, Styx, Kansas, Supertramp and the aforementioned Beatles and Queen befitting the merits of this fine American band. Talking of different, one of Aviary's earliest tracks 'Eva's Birthday' (circa 1975) appears on the album. Whoa, this is strange, on the verge of being mindlessly silly, thankfully it is something the band duly acknowledge in the liner notes.. birthday cakes, decorations and all! Elsewhere, I have some personal favourites. The seventies influence perfectly represented by the superb 'I Should Have Known', or the very Styx like 'Working Girl'. Check out the delicious harmonies and stabbing keyboards on the racy 'Yes And No' or the over-extended near progressive leanings on 'Desert Songs/Pharoahs March. At 11m 10s, it deserves the accolades of a prog epic!

In Summary
Mostly though it's an album which requires many listens to unravel the musical treasures which lie within. I admit it's gonna take me quite a few spins to get to the bottom of it all. Thoroughly fascinating band, though only a pomp purist such as myself can truly appreciate the nuances on display here. Thanks to all involved in getting this selection of tunes out there. Looking forward to the next installment.

Related Articles
Aviary - 1979 Aviary
Aviary - 2003 Interview with Brad Love and Toby Bowen
Aviary - 2003 Ambition
Aviary - 2003 Ambition (review 2)

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