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

JUNE 1ST,1974

Kevin Ayers

 

Canterbury Scene

2.96 | 22 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Spots of ACNE

A month after the release of 'The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories', Kevin Ayers gathered together a small group of friends and friends of friends for a one off gig at the Rainbow Theatre in London, UK. These friends happened to be well known musicians in their own right, thus creating significant interest among fans. The other musicians credited here are Nico, Brian Eno and John Cale (The album is actually by the four artists collectively), but Mike Oldfield, Robert Wyatt (only recently returned to drumming following an accident which left him paralysed from the waste down; he could no longer use his feet when playing drums), Rabbit, and several others also played. That the gig went ahead at all is in retrospect quite surprising, with Ayers having reportedly been caught in bed with Cale's wife the night before!

For the purposes of the album, the set is split into two halves, with the latter part being assigned to five songs written by Ayers. The Ayers songs are taken in chronological order from his releases up to that point, including two from the current album. One further Ayers song, 'I've Got A Hard-On For You Baby" was played live but not included on the album (perhaps withdrawn at the last minute?).

Before we reach the Ayers led set though, we have a couple of Brian Eno songs and a couple of cover versions. The Eno songs are not from his Ambient catalogue, but from his first solo album 'Here come the warm jets'. '"Driving Me Backwards" is a slow, tedious tuneless dirge of questionable musical integrity. 'Baby's on fire' is rather tastelessly about a baby on fire during a photographic session. Musically, the song has the tones of Roxy Music, but here it is devoid of the Robert Fripp guitar solo on the studio album.

John Cale takes lead vocals for the cover of Elvis's 'Heartbreak hotel', which turns the song into a plodding and rather disturbing affair. Nico's time in the limelight is heading up a nine minute performance of The Doors 'The end'. Given that the song is really a vehicle for the late Jim Morrison's personal indulgences, this seems an odd choice here, and despite Nico's fine voice tends to outstay its welcome by some distance.

The Ayers' set kicks off with 'May I' from his second album 'Shooting at the moon'. For me, the highlight of the track is the keyboards contribution of John "Rabbit" Bundrick, who plays on all the Ayers songs here. Ayers is in full Leonard Cohen style vocally, but sounds good nonetheless. 'Shouting in a bucket of blues' (bizarrely mis-titled 'Standing in a bucket of blues' on the CD cover) is the first song on the entire album to give the audience something to move to. "Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes" is in a similar vein, the two tracks being at odds with the mood of rest of the album.

The last two songs are from 'The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories'. "Everybody's Sometime and Some People's All the Time Blues" features a fine lead guitar solo by Mike Oldfield (who receives a name check), the song being a melancholy blues. The album closes with the brief but atmospheric "Two Goes into Four", a songe featuring Ayers voice and acoustic guitar only, prior to the big ending

In summary, an album which fails to live up to the expectations placed upon it by the all star line up. Kevin's set is adequate but brief, while the other four tracks are largely forgettable.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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