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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


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

The Confessions is another worthy Ayers album, clearly better than the previous Bananamour, and it has some resemblance to Shooting At The Moon.

The first side is made up of relatively short tracks and some are plagued with soul/funked-up choirs so typical of what Kevin had gotten us used to so far. The suite Blessing/Awakened/Curse makes a wink and a nod to his Soft Machine track Why Are We Sleeping? That track is maybe the only one really worthy of noticed to the demanding proghead on this track selection.

Clearly the highlight of the album is the multi-part ( min) title track. As you might guess the opening section is extremely interesting and is a bit reminiscent of what Wyatt will do on his Rock Bottom album in guise of healing procedure following his accident. The third movement bears some similarities with the You circa-GonG. And the last part of the suite being the icing of the cake with its deliciously insane slow rhythms and extraterrestrial guitars. Probably Ayers's best track especially for progheads. The last short track is delightful and a fitting farewell to the album.

This album is second in my list of Ayers album behind Shooting At The Moon, but like most of the others, it is extremely uneven. I will stop my reviewing run of Ayers album around this album and the live June 1, 74 as the Ayers's solo albums will keep rolling in between his long holidays periods in Ibiza but will also become increasingly uneven and inconsistent (ending up as patchy by the end of the decade) which is a real shame knowing the man's talents but also knowing his aptitude at taking the easy side of life, too. For the proghead, most everything he had to say, had been said by 75 and the following albums are for pure Ayers fans.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#62649)
Posted Sunday, January 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In 1973, or thereabouts, Nico, Mike Oldfield, Mike Ratledge (from the Soft Machine), Michael Giles (ex-King Crimson), Geoff Richardson (from Caravan) and many others lined up to help Kevin Ayers have his final stab at greatness, THE CONFESSIONS OF DR DREAM, which was released in 1974.

Until that time, Ayers' solo albums had been a mixture of cheerful pop ditties, psychedelic experiments, and sultry ballads that particularly suited the artist's deep bass voice. But DR DREAM would prove to be a different kettle of fish.

The A-Side contains as perfect a sequence of songs as you can imagine. 'Day by Day', the funky opener (with superb backing vocals by Doris Troy and other soul singers), is followed by a brief (and philosophical) acoustic mini-song, which leads straight into the album's rocking tour de force, "Didn't feel lonely till I thought of you", one of Kevin's all-time classics, with fiery lead guitar by Ollie Halsall. Poetic relief is then provided by a dreamy blues song, with a terribly long title (typically Ayers!) and a crystalline guitar solo from Mike Oldfield. I'm not an Oldfield nut, but I can guarantee to all prog freaks this superb solo alone warrants purchase of the album. The best is yet to come, though, for Ayers (almost) concludes his A-side with a souped-up version of his signature tune, "Why are we sleeping?", the original of which can be found on the Soft Machine's debut album. Utterly bombastic, by turns scary, comical and furious, this track contains a louche night club interlude (with sax provided by Lol Coxhill) and a grandiose church-organ-driven climax. To reduce the horror, and send the listener to bed with a smile, Ayers has it all followed up with the brief but unforgettable "Ballbearing blues".

It's on the B-side, however, that the nightmare truly begins. Intertwined acoustic guitars, eerie sound effects, Michael Ratledge's fuzz organ and Nico's spooky vocals dominate the first section of a multi-movement suite that can be interpreted as a warning against the self-delusion of young lovers and the dangers involved in taking too many drugs. The middle section of this suite is dominated by some delightfully jazzy electric piano, and the final riff is so dark, long drawn-out and menacing it will haunt you for days. But once again, Kevin refuses to leave the listener with a curse, and he concludes his album with "Two goes into four", one of his loveliest acoustic ballads.

Anyone interested in the so-called Canterbury Scene, or in British psychedelic rock, will find this album invaluable. Everyone else will find it an excellent addition to their collection.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#120057)
Posted Saturday, April 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to febus (BETA) | Report this review (#138418)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Girlie Ayers

By 1974, Ayers was firmly ensconced in his solo career, with a string of credible releases in the bag. The confessions of Dr. Dream and other stories was his first album for Island records, his move to a major label allowing him to populate the tracks with many famous musicians. Luminaries of the Canterbury scene and further afield, such as Mike Ratledge (Soft Machine), Geoff Richardson (Caravan), Nico and Mike Oldfield, along with a host of others, all grace the album at various points.

With just 8 tracks including an almost side long suite, this is arguably Ayers' most ambitious release. Such an observation is diluted to some extent when we find that the suite is in fact four separate tracks linked together, but this is nevertheless a key album in Kevin's discography.

The opening track Day by day sets the tone for the album with a funky pop orientated song complete with girlie voices and a catchy hook. Prog it most certainly ain't; but enjoyable? Well yes. See you later sounds for all the world like a short Bonzo Dog Band track. It quickly links via some superfluous whistles etc. and some hard rock guitar into I didn't feel lonely till I thought of you, another song peppered with a girlie vocal backed chorus. There is some fine guitar work concealed within the song, but overall it is little more than a commercial pop number.

It is only when we get to the melancholy Everybody's sometime and some people's all the time blues, that we find the type of song we expect from Ayers, and for my money the style he is best at. This slow, moody number offers him the opportunity to add a fine vocal performance.

The three part It begins with a blessing/Once I awakened/But it ends with a curse reverts to the soft downbeat style again, supported by some delightful organ. The song includes a combination of incoherent mumbling by Kev and loud vocalised choruses by his female accompaniment. Side one is rounded out by the brief throwaway Ballbearing blues, an amusing but inconsequential ditty.

The four part title suite may be something of a wolf in sheep's clothing, but it is still the highlight of the album. The four songs are far more adventurous and imaginative that anything else here, featuring some fine instrumentation (including Canterbury keyboards). There are hints of Hawkwind, Krautrock and a myriad of other styles throughout the suite, which hangs together surprisingly well as a major piece.

The album concludes with Two goes into four, a brief acoustic variation of Hey Jude with alternative lyrics.

In all, an album which probably pleased Ayers' new record company, since it contained some pretty commercial material. Long term fans, and progheads generally, are best advised to head for side two and in particular the suite which give the album its name. Noted producer Rupert Hine does a fine job with the material he is presented with, the sound being clean and uncluttered.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#156978)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Discovering a man and a musician.

The man who has played every style in music: Kevin Ayers. From gently ballads or non-sense riffs to spectacular and dramathic themes.

In this album you can hear the spirit of Wild Flowers, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt and ..... why not the insanity of Syd Barrett.

Played along with a multitude of big artists (R. Cooper, M. Oldfield, all Soft Machine's Friends etc.), fans of prog music will appreciate some short riffs that are very nice and a mix of Canterbury and prog style.

Obscured by Shooting at the Moon, I discovered late this album and even if I'm not a fan of the style of Soft Machine, I think that everyone who wants to discover something ..... strange and funny for our ears and mind must buy this album.

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Send comments to peterpann1z (BETA) | Report this review (#207655)
Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I must admit up front that i am a huge Kevin Ayers fan so I guess my reviews will be shaded but he is one of the real innovators and is so sadly uunderrated. By the mid 70's Kevin was well past his Harvest record days and wrote and recorded 3 further and very interesting albums on Island Records. I think of the 3 this album is the most complete Ayers album of the lot for me. Side two of this album is a side long epic "The Confessions of Dr. Dream" which is simply a whole new story. Kevin is joined with Crimson;s Mike Giles, Steve Nye on the organ and Rupert Hine on the synth. Ayers uses space nicely here with some great interludes and musical montages. A highly well crafted album !!

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#223936)
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In my opinion, The Confessions of Dr. Dream (and Other Stories) marks Kevin's move to a more cohesive form of music. And that's why this is not a real favourite of mine... strange... the record is considered to be his most ambitious work to date. Unfortunately, it isn't his most elegant or surrealistic one.

It features the GREAT rock number "It Begins with a Blessing / Once I Awakened / But it Ends with a Curse", which, yes, is one of his classics but it's somehow more othodox, not at the very same level of previous unconventional gems such as "Song from the Bottom of the Well" (wow!) or "Decadence" (wow!). Moreover, quieter moments maybe are too quiet; you have to turn up the volume and then turn it down again as the louder parts get in.

All in all, an album to have and an artist to reappraise.

P.S. Yes, Patto's Ollie Halsall is a great guitarist.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#840197)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Moving to Island Records, Kevin Ayers features on this album a dizzying variety of guest artists and a slick, polished sound which I suspect will divide a lot of Ayers listeners. Those who found his earlier material maddeningly sloppy and inconsistent might find the higher production values and more cohesive sound to be a plus; for my part, though, Ayers' rough- around-the-edges sloppiness was part of his charm, and the album is a little too neat and tidy to scratch the itch that's scratched by, say, whatevershebringswesing or Joy of a Toy. It's a decent mid-1970s pop album with occasional progressive sensibilities that are kept on a tight leash, in short, and that's a rather drab and unambitious thing for an Ayers album to be.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#1082857)
Posted Thursday, November 28, 2013 | Review Permalink

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