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Kevin Ayers - The Confessions of Dr Dream and Other Stories CD (album) cover

THE CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM AND OTHER STORIES

Kevin Ayers

 

Canterbury Scene

3.28 | 28 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

febus
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars THE CONFESSIONS OF DR AYERS!

KEVIN AYERS last album BANANAMOUR once again failed to chart like his first 3 solo albums. Thinking that a change of music company might change his fortunes, KEVIN moved to ISLAND records, a company usually wellknown for spending money to develop and promote their own artists. Being already almost 29 years old at this time, KEVIN AYERS knew it was now or never to make it big! (or at least bigger)

But in exchange for support, KEVIN AYERS would have to relinquish a little bit of his artistic freedom and listen to the people ''who know"". So for the first time, AYERS won't produce or co-produce his new album leaving this task to RUPERT HINE. The sound will be straighten out with a ''more in your face'' approach, some tracks getting a commercial coating and there were (almost)no silly or tropical ditties to be found on THE CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM.

A dream roster has been brought to the studio to support this AYERS project, hopefully helping the marketing for the release of the LP. MIKE GILES play the drums, JOHN GUSTAFSON from CARAVAN on bass, OLLIE HALSHALL from PATTO on guitar join the usual guests MIKE RATLEDGE and by now, the new mlilionaire MIKE OLDFIELD. I wonder what AYERS thought of this reversal of fortune back then when 2 years ago OLDFIELD was on his (small) payroll with THE WHOLE WORLD and now, in 1974, the guitarist comes back as a multi-million sold LPs artist with the huge success of TUBULAR BELLS. Envy? jealousy? pride? happiness? or a little bit of everything? who knows?

ISLANDS or HARVEST records, this is still a KEVIN AYERS album, meaning THE CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM is as usual a mixed bag of goodies and other inconsequential tracks as we have been used to in the past. Some things will never change with KEVIN, i guess. To my dismay, i am schocked that i am only the third reviewer of this album on PA as there is some good music, even some great prog that can be found on ex-side 2 of the LP.AYERS deserves better than that, even if i admit, he is not for everyone's taste!

The problem lies on the first side as the album opens in the most deplorable way i can imagine and makes you wonder what's next! DAY BY DAY is an obvious blatant commercial try to reach the charts. Not i dislike a commercial song as long it's a good one, but this one STINKS big time. AYERS singing Soul/funk???? ''day by day, night by night'' with a big female chorus backing up the song all the way, just plain horrible!!! Things don't get any better with the next one, the.....country!!! SEE YOU LATER. The good news is at the moment you start to contemplate suicide, this short track and the fiddle stop all of a sudden. Thanks.

Things are getting a little bit better with DIDN'T FEEL LONELY TILL THOUGHT OF YOU ( Kevin always liked these long titles, wait for the next one). Not that it is great, it's just a generic rock song,of course spoiled by these horrible female backing vocals, but the guitar solo is great. Finally, we 're having a typical sweet ballad a la AYERS with EVERYBODY'S SOMETIME AND SOME PEOPLE ALL THE THE TIME BLUES (ouf!!!) with a WONDERFUL delicate solo from MIKE OLDFIELD. Finally, AYERS at his best.

The next IT BEGINS WITH A BLESSING/ONCE I AWAKENED/BUT IT ENDS WITH A CURSE (ouf, ouf again!!!) will sound familiar as it is a reworking of AYERS well known track WHY ARE WE SLEEPING from the first SOFT MACHINE album. Kevin always thought of the original as just a live in the studio raw recording and wanted to refine it!! mission HALF accomplished! the calmer parts sound great with beautiful piano and great sax performance from LOX COXHILL, but the heavy parts are too HEAVY!! hard rock riffs with once again those dreadful female backing vocals...why...WHY?? they sing, yes, why?

I told you there was almost no silly ditty on this album; finally we get one with BALLBEARING BLUES, an acoustic blues piece of 30 seconds with very deep existentialist lyrics: ''if you don't wear shoes,you'll have no shoes to lose and that's the end of the news''. Who needs ROGER WATERS when you have KEVIN??

The meat of the album is on the second side-the suite ''the confessions of dr dream'', a 18 mn extravaganza sliced in 4 parts. Actually, i would say they are 4 distinct songs which have been bridged together to make it look like a ''suite''. Don't forgetwe are in 1974, year of TFTO and other HAMBURGER CONCERTO. Even AYERS admits he never came with idea of creating a ''suite''. The brains at Islands records got the idea and..imposed it. Nevertheless, this is a pleasant piece of music, the most progressive AYERS would record. It starts with a haunting vocal duet with NICO of VELVET UNDERGROUND fame, kind of creepy athmosphere with its repetitive acoustic guitar line and weird synth sounds. INVITATION part 2 is AYERS once again at his best with a very nice melody and a few...time changes (not very Ayers usually) followed by another great organ solo from his old bandmate from SOFT MACHINE, the genial MIKE RATLEDGE.

The last part DR DREAM THEME is my favorite part, a simple guitar theme, but beautiful, very athmospherique backing perfectly the deep. very deep vocals of KEVIN, soon followed by the sound of a scary organ. Almost symphonic AYERS, we have here! A really good way to end the suite, but not the album. This task is left to TWO GOES INTO FOUR, a sweet lullaby with just KEVIN and his acoustic guitar, a sweet melancholic ballad that ends up the album wonderfully.

THE CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM is another headache to rate as this is always the case with any AYERS solo albums. There are great songs to listen to, some others that could have been thrown away before entering the studio. For the first side, i would give 1 to 2 stars; the second side deserves a good 4. Even AYERS doesn't hold this album in high esteem as he thinks he could have done better had he total control on this project. But he could never prove it.

3 STARS.

febus | 3/5 |

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