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KEVIN AYERS

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Kevin Ayers biography
Kevin Cawley Ayers - Born 16 August 1944 (Herne Bay, Kent, UK) - 18 February 2013

A gifted songwriter, guitarist, bassist and singer, Kevin Ayers has been flitting in and out of prog throughout his long, languid career. Present at the very beginning of the Canterbury Scene as a key member of THE WILDE FLOWERS alongside such Canterbury veterans as Robert Wyatt, Richard Sinclair and Hugh Hopper in 1963, Kevin Ayers was already secured a place in Canterbury history. By 1966 SOFT MACHINE was born, and Kevin Ayers was recruited as a bassist and vocalist for the group. He lasted but one album before deciding he couldn't take the pace of touring, preferring to concentrate on solo efforts. In 1970 a somewhat formal band (The Whole World) was formed to help with Ayers' solo efforts which featured the likes of saxophonist Lol Coxhill and a certain young Mike Oldfield on guitar. Alas, the band was no more by the end of 1971. Ayers continues to play informal gigs as and when and may even swagger into the studio once more, but maintains as much of a laid-back attitude to these activities as his music itself exudes.

For prog fans, the albums "Joy of a Toy", "Shooting at the Moon", "Whatevershebringswesing" and "The Confessions of Dr Dream" are of most interest as they contain reworkings of Ayers' early SOFT MACHINE material as well as copious very proggy pieces ranging drastically in style from lazy ditties to avant-garde sound explorations. After these albums Ayers' work became increasingly song-orientated and acoustic and may hold little fascination for the average progger.

Highly recommended to all Canterbury enthusiasts and lovers of creative and finely crafted songs.


Discography:
Joy of a Toy, studio album (1969)
Shooting at the Moon (With "The Whole World"), studio album (1970)
Whatevershebringswesing, studio album (1972)
Bananamour, studio album (1973)
The Confessions of Dr Dream and Other Stories, studio album (1974)
June 1st, studio album (1974)
Sweet Deciever, studio album (1975)
Odd Ditties, compilation of unreleased material (1976)
Yes We Have No Mananas, studio album (1976)
Rainbow Takeaway, studio album (1978)
That's What You Get Babe, studio album (1980)
Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain, studio album (1983)
As Close As You Think, studio album (1986)
Falling Up, studio album (...
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KEVIN AYERS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KEVIN AYERS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.64 | 132 ratings
Joy Of A Toy
1969
3.71 | 99 ratings
Kevin Ayers & The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon
1970
3.67 | 90 ratings
Whatevershebringswesing
1972
3.22 | 61 ratings
Bananamour
1973
3.35 | 54 ratings
The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories
1974
2.84 | 26 ratings
Sweet Deceiver
1975
2.70 | 28 ratings
Yes We Have No Maņanas - So Get Your Maņanas Today
1976
2.75 | 18 ratings
Rainbow Takeaway
1978
2.29 | 16 ratings
That's What You Get Babe
1980
2.30 | 11 ratings
Diamond Jack And The Queen Of Pain
1983
2.94 | 8 ratings
Deiā...Vu
1984
2.57 | 7 ratings
As Close As You Think
1986
2.94 | 12 ratings
Falling Up
1988
3.03 | 13 ratings
Still Life With Guitar
1992
2.99 | 21 ratings
The Unfairground
2007

KEVIN AYERS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 37 ratings
June 1st,1974
1974
4.07 | 9 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert-Kevin Ayers
1992
4.14 | 7 ratings
Singing The Bruise
1996
5.00 | 1 ratings
First Show in the Appearance Business
1996
4.13 | 8 ratings
Too Old To Die Young
1998
3.75 | 5 ratings
Turn The Lights Down!
2000
2.00 | 1 ratings
Alive in California
2004
4.29 | 7 ratings
The BBC Sessions-1970-1976
2005

KEVIN AYERS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

KEVIN AYERS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.73 | 11 ratings
Odd Ditties
1976
4.50 | 2 ratings
The Kevin Ayers Collection
1983
3.19 | 9 ratings
The Best Of Kevin Ayers
1989
3.18 | 3 ratings
Document Series: Kevin Ayers
1992
4.19 | 8 ratings
Songs for the Insane Times - An Anthology 1969-1980
2008
4.00 | 1 ratings
What More Can I Say...
2008
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Harvest Years 1969-1974
2012

KEVIN AYERS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Butterfly Dance / Puis-je?
1970

KEVIN AYERS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Kevin Ayers & The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.71 | 99 ratings

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Kevin Ayers & The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Beautiful Scarlet

3 stars Kevin Ayers & The Whole World sole album Shooting At The Moon is a pretty neat work. At times It enters avant- lands with noisy soundscapes at other times it has this really lovely chill lounge sound that's just magnificent.

I find what really drags the album down are it's more "progressive" moment, Pisser Dans Un Violon and Underwater. These tracks strike me as pointless sound collages which is what I think they sound like. Additionally, two of the shorter songs, Lunatics Lament and Shooting At The Moon sound like 60s hard rock a la The Who which I find are at odds with some of the other tracks which are in my opinion better. I think the rest of the songs showcase a classic Kevin Ayers sound made complete by the bands good instrumentation.

Overall I don't think this example would be entirely enjoyable to those who care not for sparse soundscapes such as myself. Still, I don't think it was without merit and is still a solid release.

 Whatevershebringswesing by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.67 | 90 ratings

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Whatevershebringswesing
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by YourJefa

4 stars I don't know with how many stars rate this album: 4 or 5. I like this album way too much more than I like "Joy of a toy" but definitely not that much as I like "Shooting at the moon".

When I heard this album for the first time I immediately got amazed by the first song; the following songs didn't make me feel that, but I still enyoyed it a lot.

I can measure and compare this album with some other great albums of the classic Canterbury Scene era and that wouldn't help me too much either.

I must be very careful and not to give it a higher note than it deserves, so I believe four stars is a very fair note. But I'm still not sure, probably it deserves five...

 Kevin Ayers & The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.71 | 99 ratings

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Kevin Ayers & The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by YourJefa

5 stars If I had to describe this album with just one word that word would be "majestic". It's not only that I liked it, but also is one of most epic albums that I've ever heard, one of those really few albums that make me feel incredibly lucky for having the chance to listen and enjoy them.

Each song is amazing and it has that natural continuity that is really hard to get on an album (even in Prog). The mysterious instrumental pieces like "Pisser dans un violon" and "Underwater" show us that even on an improvised track KEVIN AYERS and his group were able to do some great stuff (and I really don't think those pieces were really improvised).

I don't remember when it was the last time that I heard such a good album; "Shooting at the moon" is one of those essential albums that just have to be on every Prog Rock collection. This is an obligated album for any collector.

The French singing in the bonus tracks "Puis je?" And "Jolie madame" is wonderful: the French is very clear and easy to understand, easier than the French singed by most of the classic French Prog Rock bands like Ange or Mona Lisa, (but maybe that's particularly interesting to me because I like to study foreign languages).

This album is a whole masterpiece, so I'll give it the highest note: five stars!!!

 Joy Of A Toy by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.64 | 132 ratings

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Joy Of A Toy
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by YourJefa

4 stars Such an amazing album! To be honest, I don't like too much the first four tracks, but "Song for insane times" it's a great song and the following ones get much and much better.

"Lady Rachel" is one of my all time favourite songs from the whole Canterbury Scene cathalog, "Stop this train" is pretty cool too and "Oleh, oleh, Bandu Bandong" is from now on a song that I need to practice on my drum-set.

There is too much left from Soft Machine's classic sound, KEVIN AYERS had made a very underrated Canterbury Scene classic album which needs and deserves more people to listen to it.

My personal oppinion about "Joy of a toy" is that if you enjoy soft but very interesting and well done music you have to get it into your collection (I hope to get it into mine someday).

Very nice album! Four stars

 Deiā...Vu by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.94 | 8 ratings

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Deiā...Vu
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Boojieboy

3 stars One of Kevin's most rocking albums (the others being That's What You Get Babe and Yes We Have No Mananas). It's not hard rock or anything, and not prog, but it does show that he could cut loose at times. I think guitarist Ollie Halsall helped contribute towards that.

The fastest song is My Speeding Heart. It kicks the pants off anything from his laid back and slow releases (including The Unfairground). There are several songs with a Caribbean and reggae feel, as is one of his strong points. There's also some humor there as in his earlier career, though it's in a more adult and slightly jaded manner.

Decent rock, with tropical influences.

 Diamond Jack And The Queen Of Pain by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.30 | 11 ratings

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Diamond Jack And The Queen Of Pain
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Boojieboy

2 stars Definitely NOT progressive rock, more like new wave. This is one of Kevin's strangest albums. The album was commissioned by someone else, and Kevin basically had to turn over control to the producer (his musicians, his production, his ways, his ideas). The biggest offense is using an early drum machine, keyboard bass, and sometimes electronic drums in place of real instruments and a real rhythm section. They sound quite cheesy at times, and sort of like Devo in areas, which is so not Kevin Ayers. This is almost like 180 degrees away from what he was about.

There are some decent songs on this, including 1) the heavier lead-off track Madame Butterfly, 2) probably his best version of Ollie Halsall's song Steppin' Out, and 3) Lay Lady Lay. There are several versions of those last two songs on other albums, but these might be the best. Probably the oddest song here is Who's Still Crazy? It's such a synthesized departure of Kevin's music, that he kind of rambles on in the vocal booth, obviously trashed and drugged, probably the only way to deal with the difficult situation.

I understand now why this album is so hard to find. I wouldn't be surprised if even some fans have even hidden it or removed them from circulation. There's probably a fear of giving people totally the wrong impression about Kevin.

Despite the criticism, it's still a stronger album than the last two bland duds that he released (Still Life With Guitar and The Unfairground). There's still some energy there and some life, even though it stuffed under a synthesized mess. There's more rock and drunkenness too, which is missing from his later albums.

I gave it 2-stars for the prog and rock community at large. For Ayers fans though - those who get him - I'd give it 3 stars.

 Joy Of A Toy by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.64 | 132 ratings

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Joy Of A Toy
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars If you ever wondered what Soft Machine would have sounded like if they'd continued down the path of their debut album, then i think you need look no further than the debut album of KEVIN AYERS. After one album with the Softs and an extensive tour opening for Jimi Hendrix, all proved too much for AYERS and he exited stage left but spent a while in Ibiza, Spain with his partner in crime Daevid Allen who had much earlier split from the Softs not jiving with the more serious jazzy instrumental direction that Wyatt, Ratledge and Hopper were conjuring up.

JOY OF A TOY is actually a logical followup to the psychedelic pop masterpieces of the early Softs with that wild and woolly Canterbury Scene whimsy and instantly addictive hooks. KEVIN AYERS displays his ability to expand his palette on his debut however and has a nice expanse of eclectic tastes that range from the festive Sgt Peppers-esque "Joy Of A Toy Continued" opener to more serious melancholy laced cello soaked cuts like "Town Feeling." More Beatles inspired influences appear in "The Clarietta Rag" and tackles ethnic exoticnesses by rocking out on a Malay folk song with "Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong."

While this album lacks a cohesive feel, it is a nice collection of tracks with some being stronger than the others. I absolutely adore the cute little "Girl On A Swing," the intense time warping "Stop This Train (Again Doing It), "Oleh" and the Bob Dylan sounding "All This Crazy Gift Of Time" but i find the other tracks such as "Eleanor's Cake (Which Ate Her)" not as captivating. While if find this to be a pretty cool debut album, it doesn't quite match the psychedelic and addictive properties of the early Soft Machine album or even the better AYERS albums to come. While i love a few tracks on this one, i am indifferent to just as many. Nice start to a solo career and AYERS finds a nice home for his instantly recognizable baritone voice.

3.5 rounded down

 The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 54 ratings

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The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by 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.
 Joy Of A Toy by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.64 | 132 ratings

BUY
Joy Of A Toy
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After recording the Soft Machine debut (1968) with Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge in New York amidst the long US tour, Kevin Ayers left the band and went to have a nice time in Ibiza. There he wrote songs and after returning to England made demos that led to his solo debut Joy of a Toy (named after a song in the SM album). It was recorded in Abbey Road studios with the help of his former bandmates plus several other musicians, most notably David Bedford who had his other foot in the art music field. Bedford played keyboards and wrote some chamber music arrangements that to me are essential in the album's personal charm. The songs themselves - for example 'Town Feeling' or 'Eleanor's Cake (Which Ate Her)' - are more or less simple, carefree in nature, but in a beautiful way. Here and there you sense the slightly jazzy Canterbury atmosphere, perhaps most clearly in 'Song for Insane Times'.

Not really a prog classic, but a nice addition to the solo works of Canterbury. Only two Canterbury artists have more notable solo careers: Steve Hillage and Robert Wyatt. Ayers (who sadly died earlier this year) will be fondly remembered by the prog community. This is to me his best album. 3― stars.

 The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 54 ratings

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The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by 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.

Thanks to Trouserpress for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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