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Articles Home » 2003 Articles » Aviary - 2003 Ambition [Review #2]
Aviary - 2003 Ambition [Review #2]

ARTIST: Aviary
ALBUM: Ambition (review 2)
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/Pharaohs March * 07 I Should Of Known * 08 Eva's Birthday * 09 Fine Lines * 10 Working Girl * 11 Yes And No


70's pomp rockers Aviary may not have gotten the success they deserved back in their heyday, but the last couple of years have seen quite a bit of interest in the band. First the splendid Songhaus/Rewind release of the self titled 1979 album on CD, as well as last year's solo release by principal songwriter and singer Brad Love, 'Through Another Door'. Life has been good for Aviary fans lately, indeed! ...With the release of 'Ambition', it's only about to get even better! Delving into their considerable vault of recordings from the period 1975-1979, 'Ambition' features 11 previously unreleased songs, all but one recorded during the band's years in Los Angeles.

The Songs
Opener 'Hello' is a pleasant, somewhat Beatles-y tune, although little twists and turns throughout the tune leave little doubt that the band are capable of much more than three chords! 'The Sun, The Sand' segues from a dramatic intro into an excellent, quirky guitar riff courtesy of Toby Bowen. The riff itself reminds me of cult favourites Russia and their song 'Gotta Get Away', but swirling synth arpeggios, organ splashes and mellotron strings all take this song elsewhere, and the feeling is much more orchestral. As if to contrast the busy organ motifs utterly and completely, 'Apathy' is stark naked piano and vocal to begin with, however, the rest of the band join in gradually, creating a memorably majestic song in the process, which at the end is taken down to its quiet intro mood again. The CD's title track has Bowen and Madden interacting on guitar and organ respectively, to great effect, whereas Love's dramatic lyrics are nicely reflected in verses building to a haunting chorus. The piano intro line on 'You' is no less haunting, but the slow, dreamy intro soon gets a kick up the behind, all strutting bass lines and drum punctuations, as well as busy keyboards throughout. The band's possible tour de force is up next - a two-song group called 'Desert Songs/Pharaohs March'. Like the previous song, it starts quietly with a distinct piano/keyboard motif, but moves through just about every emotion from quiet reflection to fiery drama over the course of the next 11 minutes and 10 seconds.

Absolutely brilliant, if I may say so! 'I Should Have Known' evolves from an ethereal intro into a fairly straightforward verse, only to pull off a few neat little instrumental start/stop antics along the way, segueing the highly melodic and soaring vocals into the chorus, which again echoes the intro piano motif somehow ... surely songwriters' masterclass, this one! The only song represented from the band's early recordings back in Omak (home area of Love and Madden), is 'Eva's Birthday', an entertainingly, utterly mad birthday party chronicle which I'm sure had the Cheshire Cat from 'Alice in Wonderland' on the guest list! (I'd love to see what artwork madman Storm Thorgerson would have come up with for this!) 'Fine Lines' finds Aviary in what must be their most progressive moment of the record - bassist Steimonts and drummer Bryans get to flex their musical muscles considerably for this, although Love's flowing melody lines are never far away. As was the case with 'Fine Lines', 'Working Girl' also features lyrics from bassist Steimonts - a part frustrated, part humouristic view on life with a non-musician girlfriend. Chromatic cat-mouse antics on synths and guitars are used to great effect on this quirky rocker, whereas 'Yes and No' is a bombastic and surprisingly busy mini-epos, well suited for closing the album.

In Summary
I suspect I hardly need to add that 'Ambition' is a lovely souvenir from the extensive Aviary vaults, and I hope that this is only the first of many releases to do so. Pomp rock hardly comes any better than this!

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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#1 | Jez on June 16 2008 02:09:00
Classic Pomp/ Sympho from the masters. This cd is avaliable from the band website, and consists of tracks from varying sessions from 1976-1979. All are extremely good soundwise and quality wise aswell. If you're into the debut album, then you won't go wrong with this. I would go as far to say that some of the tracks are even better than on the debut, and that's saying something.
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