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Kevin Ayers - The Unfairground CD (album) cover


Kevin Ayers


Canterbury Scene

2.90 | 17 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Fair

Following his mainly acoustic release "Still life with guitar" in 1992, Kevin Ayers pretty much retired from recording albums. He made occasional live appearances, and relocated from Spain to France to live, but apart from that he all but vanished.

In 2005, Ayers began to write songs in earnest again, finding an eager audience awaiting further output from him. Some two years later, this album finally appeared. One glance at the artist credits reveals that Ayers was far from alone in his work, with contributors including such noted artists as Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, Phil Manzanera and many more. Members of bands such as Teenage Fanclub, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci and the Trash Can Sinatras also make appearances.

With such an impressive cast list, it is perhaps surprising that the album runs to a mere 34 minutes, the tracks all coming in at between 2 and 4 minutes. As might be assumed, this therefore means that we have another album of pop songs, gentle croons (ballads), and whimsical melodies. Ayers himself describes this as "very much a reflective album: lost love, lost feelings, lost sensibilities". The opening "Only heaven knows" belies this however, being a rather positive number both melodically and lyrically.

The following "Cold shoulder" is the first of the melancholy numbers, featuring the "Wyattron" of Robert Wyatt. "Walk on water" is nicely orchestrated while featuring some of Ayers strongest vocals in many a year.

"Baby please come home" sees Ayers reuniting with Bridget St John for a fine vocal duet. This simply arranged number was released as a single off the album, but in hindsight the upbeat B-side ("Walk on water") may have been the better choice. The low point of the album in my view is the title track. The funky staccato beat alternating with intrusive orchestration comes across as messy and unconvincing. Others may find the track appealing, with its very slight prog leanings, but it is not for me.

Overall, while it took Kevin many years to release this album, he seems to be running on half power here. The songs are pleasant but largely undemanding. The plethora of contributing artists do what is asked of them well, but they are hardly challenged. An album which is enjoyable but for an artist of Ayers ability, we are perhaps looking for more.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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