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Kevin Ayers - June 1st,1974 CD (album) cover

JUNE 1ST,1974

Kevin Ayers


Canterbury Scene

3.03 | 27 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

After the release of THECONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM, it was time for KEVIN AYERS to promote on the road the new album.Instead of touring solo, KEVIN or the brains at Island records (depending who you ask!) got the good idea to organize a mini-event where KEVIN AYERS would be the main star, but also other artists from the record company would be joining on stage to promote a few of their own songs. This would be a 3 date ''mini-tour'' event playing in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

''Coincidentally'', the 3 guest stars were just releasing at this time their own records. ENO freshly debarked from ROXY MUSIC had just put out the excellent HERE COME THE WARM JETS. JOHN CALE and NICO both from the VELVET UNDERGROUND came out respectively with ''FEAR'' and ''THE END''. The four of them, all recent signees from Island records, were all at the same popularity level. Everybody in the prog community knew their names, were well respected, but they had yet to reach the next level of success ,even within the rock world where they were more ''cult'' artists than the popular ones.

At least, ISland records believed in them and did their best to help their respective careers. The music the foursome was playing was not really full prog, but is better classified as Art rock. This is not about instrumental virtuosity or jams or long suites, this is just about songs, but songs with a twist ,definitely not mainstream rock. Songs which reflect the complex personalities of their authors, often tormented souls or exhuberant characters like KEVIN AYERS.

Not only, these concert evenings had a ''star'' appeal with those 4 names, but everybody made sure it would be a success as more stars were asked to join to help.RABBITT, ROBERT WYATT and the very successful MIKE OLDFIELD came to make sure the event was a success. ENO, CALE and NICO would open the show for KEVIN AYERS who would provide the meat of the concert with a dozen tracks. The concerts would all be played ''sold out'', but we are not talking about stadiums here. When we say ''sold out'', it means 3000 people in the attendance. But that was not bad anyway!

On the LP, ENO with 2 songs. CALE and NICO with one each took the first side and KEVIN AYERS got the second side all for him. That was perfect as they are also very different artistically. The 3 guest performances are very dark, moody and even sometimes creepy when the AYERS songs selected for this recording are well more upbeat and joyful as one would expect.

I do like the ENO 2 songs as they are my 2 favorites from his first album, especially the very dark athmospherique DRIVING ME BACKWARDS where ENO is more groaning than singing; a very powerful rendition complete with a CALE creepy violin that gives me goosebumps everytime i listen to it.BABY'S ON FIRE is more ''conventional'' rocker, but as this is still ENO, it holds its own weird character,sure to never reach the top of the charts.

JOHN CALE follows with another weird piece of music covering the famous rock and roll classic HEARTBREAK HOTEL from....ELVIS PRESLEY. I don't know if ''the king of rock'' ever heard this version, but if he did, i am sure he was in for a schock! This is barely recognizable from the original as JOHN CALE put a very, very depressing spin on this song.He is not singing, he is almost crying ready almost to commit suicide. ENO is not helping either adding a gloomy soundscape with his synth. Some may not like it, but i do...when i am in the mood.

Looking at the next number, you know already there is no chance of spirit uplifting as we go deeper into darkness with a haunting THE END cover from the DOORS. Nico sounds as ''joyful'' as CALE earlier, singing only accompanied by a very creepy soundscape played by ENO synthetiser :a very 9mn minimalist interpretation that could be featured on any horror movies.

Knowing KEVIN AYERS, we had the idea his part of the show would be definitely more of a upbeat performance as KEVIN was never known to be an artist singing about depression and gloom. The sun shines hard usually in AYERS material. KEVIN AYERS selected (or maybe the staff at Island record) 5 songs out of the dozen he played this particular night. And that's where i have some problems with the track selection. I know everybody has their own favorite tracks, but some of the ones chosen for this recording never have been part of mine.

MAY I is a good start , a typical sweet ballad from his second solo album SHOOTING AT THE MOON, a typical AYERS tune with a verse sung in French as there are 2 studio recordings of this song, one in English, one in French. However, the next 2 tracks SHOUTING IN A BUCKET BLUES and STRANGER IN BLUE SUEDE SHOES are rather kind of pedestrian compositions that have nothing to do with prog or even art rock . Not that they are bad, but it's not, at least for me what we want to hear from KEVIN AYERS. I know these 2 songs are part of his shows staples, a lot of his fans like them, but i could see ...THE ROLLING STONES performing them. Just imagine JAGGER voice over them and tell me.

Things get better with EVERYBODY'S SOMETIME AND SOME PEOPLE'S ALL THE TIME BUES that includes a wonderful MIKE OLDFIELD guitar solo and TWO GOES INTO FOUR from his last LP CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM, 2 great songs representing the ''real'' KEVIN AYERS. This is sad that the track selection was not better as Kevin performed this night also WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING, INTERVIEW or the great part 4 of the suite CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM. I would have prefered songs like TOWN FEELING or THE LADY RACHEL, but that's just me.

We were in 1974 now and our stars on this recording had to promote the new material and that's understable. ENO with BABYS ON FIRE or AYERS with SHOUTING IN A BUCKET BLUES were trying at least to get some minor hits, not that it happened but at least they somehow widen their fan base.And they all have a good time together.That's what counts!

JUNE 1 1974 is a good album, every fan from the quartet should have in their collection, but i won't say it is essential for everybody. i have to be honest! This is not a turning point of prog music, but it's always enjoyable to listen to, at least for me.


febus | 3/5 |


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