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Kevin Ayers - Whatevershebringswesing CD (album) cover

WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING

Kevin Ayers

 

Canterbury Scene

3.58 | 45 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I must have been sixteen, and deeply in love with a girl whose initials were WvM, when this girl's former boyfriend (who happened to be a close friend of mine, and who introduced me to ELP, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, John Cale and virtually all of the Canterbury Scene) played me the second song from this album, a warm and tender love song entitled 'Margaret'. I was immediately hooked. All of love's sweet sickness seemed encapsulated in its beautiful melody. Kevin Ayers' deep bass voice (better face it folks, Kevin's a bass, NOT a baritone) expressed hidden feelings other rock balladeers simply couldn't reach.

My friend then recorded the entire album for me, and ever since I've considered it one of Kevin Ayers' strongest efforts. I know WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING wasn't meant to be a concept album, but it does seem to have been planned as a suite, with the following ingredients:

A-Side

- Track 1: Orchestral introduction (with sung middle part)

- Track 2: Tender love ballad

- Track 3: Light-hearted relief

- Track 4: Noisy, menacing psychedelia

B-Side

- Track 5: Exquisite, longish ballad

- Track 6: Cheerful pop song

- Track 7: Hungover pop song

- Track 8: Tender instrumental outro

Let me emphasize that I admire all the tracks on this album, although I occasionally skip the 'noisy, menacing psychedelia' of track 4. (This tune was once used as a demonstration track on Belgian radio, to demonstrate how deep a bass singer could go. It actually sounds as if it comes from the bottom of a well!)

Track 1 is a brave attempt to fuse experimental orchestral music (arranged by David Bedford) with Kevin's philosophical musings, a combination Kevin would try out on a grander scale a few years later, on THE CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM.

Tracks 3 and 7 were called 'silly' by an earlier reviewer, to which I can only reply: 'Where's your sense of humour, man?' Jolly ditties such as these (more or less in the spirit of the Bonzo Dog Band) never fail to cheer me up. Kevin's stylish way of singing explains why in the mid-seventies some people considered him as 'decadent' as David Bowie or Lou Reed.

Track 5, the title tune, is the highlight of the album. It is a warm-hearted hymn to friendship, for which Kevin is joined by his old colleague from Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, in the unforgettable chorus: "So let's drink some wine / and have a good time / but if you really want to come through / let the good times have you." Ayers' deep voice and Wyatt's high-pitched treble fit each other perfectly. The song as a whole simply makes me melt: there are female back-up singers as well, and the piece also contains an extended guitar solo by Mike Oldfield. This must be one of Oldfield's most lyrical solos ever. (Our Mike had not yet been spoiled by personal success. WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING must have been recorded before TUBULAR BELLS.)

The final piece on the original WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING is worth pointing out to Gong freaks, as it's a sweet and tender piece for flute, performed by no other than Didier Malherbe, a.k.a. Bloomdido Badgrass. And just to make you feel you're getting your money's worth, the album now comes with several fascinating bonus tracks. (I adore 'Fake Mexican Tourist Blues'.)

In conclusion: this is one of Kevin Ayers' most endearing albums; essential to anyone interested in Canterbury scene (although there are no jazzy instrumentals); also essential to Mike Oldfield completists!

fuxi | 4/5 |

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