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Kevin Ayers - Kevin Ayers & The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon CD (album) cover


Kevin Ayers


Canterbury Scene

3.73 | 89 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Kevin's second solo album is clearly his best album as far as progheads should be concerned , but it is also maybe the best attempt he made at forming a group. What a line-up also: David Bedford, Mike Oldfield, Lol Coxhill (one of those real weird and crazy figures of the early 70's on sax) and Fincher might really have felt like the Whole World. Sadly after a few tours, this line-up would not last until the next album.

Even if there are ten song titles and just four tracks on this album (although some are more collages of tracks rather suites), it will be easy to see for progheads, that this is where Ayers lived up the his Soft Machine Heritage best even if it is also the only one of his early albums where he got no help from his old mates (if you do not count Wyatt's chorus contribution on one song). The first track (a 9 min affair) holds two of his most enduring tracks May I and Colores Para Dolores separated by some seriously weird but inventive studio doodlings and a no-less inventive Reinhardt bit which might be Ayers's most Canterbury-esque moments since he left the Machine. The second track, the almost 13 min Lunatic Lament with its crazed guitar lines (you never heard Oldfield this rough before or since) and Kevin's madman yellings is a real stunner and IMHO, Ayer's career apex. Coxhill and Bedford shows us a thing or two in the following few atonal minutes (I suspect that this is where Bedford made his biggest impact on this group - listen to his album Star's End for a quick peek into his musically forays) in Pisser Dans Un Violon (Piss in A Violin), which actually hold no violin, but sounds like one achingly complaining about the treatment the title suggests.

The 4-part third track (12 min+) starts with one of those silly ditties Ayers is so reputed for before plunging Underwater with Oldfield and Coxhill bon the verge of sanity, before returning to a Syd Barret-like tune before digressing into a sax- dominated parade of colors. Truly a worthy listening experience although not suitable for the fragile minds. The title track is the only self-standing track on the album, but it does not need any help to be the highlight of the album, as it is simply a stunning close to a stunning album

It seems as though at this point, that Ayers was on the verge of forming a solid group base that would make musical groundbreaking a second nature, but sadly for characterial reasons, the group would implode before they recorded the next studio album, even if Bedford and Oldfield would help out further. There is a BBC recording of this line-up in concert, and to this reviewer, it might just be the best Ayers album coupled with this studio.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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