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Kevin Ayers - Joy Of A Toy CD (album) cover


Kevin Ayers


Canterbury Scene

3.63 | 124 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Kevin Ayers' wonderful debut album, Joy of a Toy, takes the psychedelic pop elements from Soft Machine's first release, and incorporates them into a more direct, song oriented approach, for which Kevin has become renowned, at least to a small, loyal group of followers. With the album name taken from an eclectic Ayers/Ratledge-penned tune on the Softs debut, JOAT sets the vibe straight away with the amusing, cheerful sing-a-long tune, entitled 'Joy of a Toy - continued', executed in perfect 60's style by Ayers and his friend David Bedford, with an almost child-like glee. The basic line-up for most tracks is Ayers and Bedford (with an entire studio's worth of equipment at their disposal) and drummer Robert Wyatt (for the most part), and also includes a small cast of guests, most noticeably Hugh Hopper (Bass) and Mike Ratledge (organ). 'Town Feeling' is a pretty tune, almost with a baroque feel, lovingly incorporating 'cello and oboe, and a lovely semi-tone riff which acts as the chorus. 'Clarietta Rag' is pure psychedelic pop, again a cheerful, sunny number with some nice Mellotron playing to boot, and funny-as- ever lyrics (usual trait in most of the songs Kevin writes) which compliment the music perfectly. 'Girl on a Swing' is a pastoral piece, with soft and sweet singing, and a pretty melody, again with some 'cranky' Mellotron playing (ala Moodies' 'Peak Hour') - pure 60's. 'Song for Insane Times' features the entire Soft Machine line-up, hence it's a more jazzy, faithful sounding Canterbury track with mellow verses, odd metres and a manic twist toward the end, where Ratledge has a freak-out on his Fuzz-toned Lowrey !! Side 2 starts with 'Stop This Train (Again Doing It)' - Kevin's experiment with repetition, a lengthy ramble of 2 chords, which features more of Ratledge's freak-out organ work - a really good song indeed. 'Eleanor's Cake (Which Ate Her)' is, despite the quirky title, an elegant, acoustic ballad, with flute and light orchestral touches - the most 'serious' sounding song on the album. 'Lady Rachel' is a song which actually sounds way ahead of its time (in the context of this album, anyway) it's dark and mysterious and incorporates some strange oboe playing. 'Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong' is the truly weird track here, almost pioneering a style that was to become the 'Rock In Opposition' movement a few years later, with its dischordant sounds, odd time sigs and bizarre, off-the-cuff arrangement. Hats off to Kevin for this one !! The last track, 'All this Crazy Gift of Time', is a lightly country flavoured tune with harmonica and acoustic guitar, and really rounds off this amazing, period piece perfectly. I love the album cover, too. 5 stars. I probably give out 5's way too often but I see these albums as masterpieces and nothing less.
Tom Ozric | 5/5 |


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