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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.

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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Yes We Have No MananasYes We Have No Mananas
$12.09 (used)
Original Album SeriesOriginal Album Series
Warner 2014
$12.47 (used)
Joy of a ToyJoy of a Toy
Emi Europe Generic 2003
$4.78 (used)
Parlophone 2014
$13.17 (used)
Joy Of A ToyJoy Of A Toy
Limited Edition
4 Men with Beards 2018
$26.17 (used)
The Harvest Years 1969 - 1974The Harvest Years 1969 - 1974
Box set · Remastered
Harvest 2012
$20.26 (used)
Rainbow Take Away / That's What You Get BabeRainbow Take Away / That's What You Get Babe
Beat Goes On (BGO) 2011
$13.24 (used)

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KEVIN AYERS discography

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

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

3.64 | 118 ratings
Joy Of A Toy
3.74 | 86 ratings
Kevin Ayers & The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon
3.66 | 81 ratings
3.20 | 53 ratings
3.34 | 50 ratings
The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories
2.84 | 23 ratings
Sweet Deceiver
2.69 | 25 ratings
Yes We Have No Maņanas - So Get Your Maņanas Today
2.77 | 15 ratings
Rainbow Takeaway
2.39 | 14 ratings
That's What You Get Babe
2.50 | 9 ratings
Diamond Jack And The Queen Of Pain
3.06 | 7 ratings
3.14 | 7 ratings
As Close As You Think
3.06 | 12 ratings
Falling Up
3.13 | 13 ratings
Still Life With Guitar
2.97 | 20 ratings
The Unfairground

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

3.08 | 35 ratings
June 1st,1974
4.04 | 8 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert-Kevin Ayers
4.00 | 6 ratings
Singing The Bruise
4.14 | 7 ratings
Too Old To Die Young
3.87 | 4 ratings
Turn The Lights Down!
4.17 | 6 ratings
The BBC Sessions-1970-1976

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

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

2.61 | 9 ratings
Odd Ditties
3.17 | 8 ratings
The Best Of Kevin Ayers
3.14 | 3 ratings
Document Series: Kevin Ayers
4.15 | 7 ratings
Songs For The Insane Times - An Anthology 1969 - 1980

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Whatevershebringswesing by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.66 | 81 ratings

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
3.74 | 86 ratings

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 | 118 ratings

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
3.06 | 7 ratings

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
2.50 | 9 ratings

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 | 118 ratings

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
3.34 | 50 ratings

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 | 118 ratings

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
3.34 | 50 ratings

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.

 Joy Of A Toy by AYERS, KEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.64 | 118 ratings

Joy Of A Toy
Kevin Ayers Canterbury Scene

Review by Einsetumadur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 12/15P. Kevin Ayers' grand masterpiece. He'd never record an album as colorful, frantic and consistent as this one again. No dull avant-garde noodling, a lot of delicate arrangements and only one strange country song to sit through. Essential!

Kevin Ayers has recorded quite a lot of solo albums over the years. Many of them include brilliant songs, but nearly all of them are marred by some really strange Vaudeville tunes or insipid free-form improvisations. Joy of A Toy, however, along with the really good Bananamour album of 1972, can be listened through without any earache or anger about Kevin's laziness in terms of songwriting.

In fact it features a couple of brilliant art pop songs which could be called essential to the Canterbury Scene. The lyrics range from friendly to slightly melancholic, David Bedford's orchestra arrangements profit a lot both from his British restrainedness and his refreshing avant-garde training - and both Bedford and Ayers are responsible for the glorious madness created by a plethora of effects, details, little melodies and fragments which are inserted everywhere. Lots of subtleties to explore here, and all this material is kept together tightly by Ayers' deep bass voice.

An obvious highlight is Song for Insane Times, unique in its Soft Machine line-up of Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge, Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers. It's the one and only example of the Soft Machine playing a soft jazz-inspired pop song, and curiously it sounds a lot like early Caravan with Ratledge providing both soft organ washes, jazz soloing and some fine flute playing as well. Wyatt sets a tight, but fluffy beat for the band to rely on. Another obvious highlight is Town Feeling, a critically acclaimed song which is most successful in fusioning Bedford's baroque orchestra arrangements, Ayers' slightly Cohenish songwriting and the rootsy R&B influences of Wyatt on drums and Ayers on guitar/bass. So why does it work a lot better than many of the late 1960s pop songs which featured orchestral elements? It's because Ayers himself is part of the arrangement with a gorgeous double-tracked guitar melody which is perfectly geared to the loping oboe tracks which dominate this piece. Otherwise you may enjoy tuneful lyrics about walking through a British town with a slightly ironical and simplifying choice of words. The less obvious highlight is Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong, Kevin Ayers' only adaptation of traditional folk music, in fact Malayian folk music since Ayers spent many years of his childhood in Malaysia. It is clearly the rhythmically most challenging experiment Kevin Ayers has ever made, an ominous chant in 7/4 with a melody and phrasing which occidental listeners can look through after fifteen listens at the earliest. Confusingly Ayers has the singers of the Benny Hill Show, the Ladybirds, sing the chorus (in fact, this track only consists of this one chorus) again and again over this very stiff rhythm. I'm pretty sure you can imagine how totally weird this sounds, but the combination comes out positively uneven. An essential listen for everyone interested in the intersection of the Canterbury Sound and the London Underground. At some time psychedelic tape effects and slightly detuned Hammond organ notes take the lead until the last half of this composition features David Bedford on grand piano. He really gets caught up in a frenetic jazz piano solo which fans of Dave Stewart's work with Egg will appreciate as well; to me this solo is the highlight on the original album because it effortlessly wanders on the ridge between playfulness and mayhem. On Ayers' next album Shooting At The Moon this tightrope walk would be less successful. The piano solo finally trickles away in a free cacophony of piano, some treated violins and feedback noises. Then gradually All This Crazy Gift Of Time is faded in, a sluggish ode to wine, partying and life borrowing heavily from American country music and featuring two shrieking blues harps which are played even more gruffly than on Bob Dylan records. The similarities to the decadent and anarchistic rock'n'roll of the glam/art rock scene of the mid-1970s is hard to deny. Ayers' vocals are double-tracked, and nothing is synchronal or in tune, it seems as if Ayers doesn't care at all about all that. It's a tough song to stand through, but this lazy attitude is an integral part of Kevin Ayers' songwriting, and as a winking last dance on a very good record I really don't object to it a lot.

Lady Rachel, in its original studio version, is exhaustingly fast and gets extremely surreal with the monotonous electric guitar strumming, threatening clarinet flutters and tinkling organ effects. Maybe that's what Syd Barrett might have sounded like on his solo albums if he had been able to communicate his ideas better to his studio musicians. The lyrics send shivers down my spine as well, I'd never have thought that Kevin could pull off such psychological verses. Although this version is interesting and extremely haunting, I do admit that I listen to the 1972 recording by far more frequently. This 7 minute version is added as a bonus track, is played by a whole band and is enhanced by outstanding brass arrangements by David Bedford, very much in the vein of his work on There Is Loving/Among Us, but as melodic and majestic as Ron Geesin's Atom Heart Mother score for Pink Floyd. Instead of simply adding some brass chords in the background Bedford develops really catchy melodies from Ayers' rough basic track and works with these phrases in an extremely playful and polyphonic way. If you know the Cockney Rebel song Sebastian with its shimmering Hammond organ, the ghostly female backing vocals and the emotional orchestra backing - this is the Baroque hipster pendant to it! Forget the 1972 single version - it's shortened to hardly 5 minutes, it's got a strange flanger effect on the guitar track and is inferior to the longer track.

Girl on A Swing and Eleanor's Cake are similar to each other in their folk-inspired and a wee bit medieval atmosphere whilst the former, stuffed with fragile electric harpsichord sounds and an occasional Mellotron fanfare, glitters and shines a bit more than the darker Eleanor's Cake, highlighting Ayers' dark harmonies and a lilting flute accompanying his own lead voice. The incredible sophistication of production is audible on Girl on A Swing in which treated tape snippets of solmisation (= the sung do-re-mi-fa... scale) follow irregularly vibrating electric guitars and a Schubert-ian Romantic piano backing. I don't want to deconstruct the whole song, but you can guess how much is happening during the course of this album.

Joy Of A Toy Continued and Clarietta Rag are the two fun numbers, and both of them aren't merely silly, but also an enjoyable listen. Joy Of A Toy Continued, featuring elaborate trombone and piccolo flute arrangements, sounds like the title melody to a circus show or a TV series for children. There's no similarity to the creepy and dark Soft Machine track of the same title, but rather to Manfred Mann's late 1960s output (Sweet Pea, Ha Ha Said the Clown), with the difference that Ayers sings something inintellegible about tigers, elephants and kangaroos in the very background. I couldn't think of a better way to begin this album, and the subsequent oboe intro of song two (Town Feeling) ... well, you have to listen to it yourself! Clarietta Rag comes dangerously close to the insipid ragtime sound of Ayers' own Oh My, but Robert Wyatt's relentless drum playing and a hilarious trombone/fuzz guitar-duo give it a pretty peculiar momentum. You don't notice any stanza or chorus here because this song swings in a hectic pace, backed by Bedford's jazzy Mellotron MkII strings which wouldn't sound out of place on The Moody Blues' Another Morning.

Lyrically most haunting, Stop This Train is the most psychedelic - in the truest sense of the word - recording on Joy Of A Toy, a song about a frightening journey on a train with equally frightening sound effects. Rob Tait is on drums on this track, and the same R&B-like drum rhythm stays the same for the complete 6 minutes, giving this track a relentless groove similar to the German band Can. This would be quite boring had it not been for Mike Ratledge who is aboard again and duels with pianist David Bedford on his Lowrey Organ in the second half of the song, both using the harshly humming and the softly bubbling tones of this all-transistor home organ. Emulating the sound of a train gaining momentum the speed of the tape player is gradually increased in the beginning and the ending of Stop This Train. Although Mike Ratledge has a stunning performance in this track and the ambience is pretty unique, too, the track is a bit too long. It's not a major flaw, but one aspect which gets in the way of a full rating for this album.


One of the bonus tracks I have not yet reviewed is Soon Soon Soon, a reworked version of the Soft Machine number We Know What You Mean. In the space of three minutes Kevin Ayers moves around an acid mixture of modal jazz (in the complex intro part), soul (in the stanzas) and pop (in the chorus), passing by the short meditative soon soon soon part in the middle which is a possible predecessor of the multi-tracked vocal part in There Is Loving/Among Us. The Ladybirds are part of the arrangement again, singing on top of a fierce fuzz guitar and jolly Mozart-like string arrangements. Again, not only the music with its unexpected variety and the accomplished polyphonic combination of motives used stands out, but also the lyrics which are conflictive in their confrontation of sarcastic stanzas ('you sell yourself so you can buy more') and the soothing Ladybirds-sung chorus (we know what you mean, we understand).


Singing A Song In The Morning, the single accompanying the album, is featured in three versions and is a song which comes around extremely powerful and tight in spite of not having any compositional substance - it deserves great talent to pull off such a song! (Another example would be Neanderthal Man, a Godley/Creme song published as The Hotlegs, which is really similar in its carefree attitude.) Singing A Song In The Morning, in a way, is a happy mantra on four ever-repeated verses which gets all of its diversion from strangely ominous 'ostrich'-style guitar lines and the Caravan rhythm section of Richard Coughlan and Richard Sinclair, the former providing his typical semiquaver-fills.

There are two widespread myths about Singing A Song In The Morning. The first one is that the early version of it (named Religious Experience, rec.11/1969) features Syd Barrett on lead guitar and/or backing vocals. When you listen to Barrett's The Madcap Laughs, recorded in April 1969 (=two months earlier), you won't find a solo guitar track which stays in time for more than a few seconds; in fact, the participating musicians of Soft Machine and Pink Floyd had to record everything around Barrett's eccentric demos. Because all the guitar tracks in Religious Experience are pretty much in time, and because credible sources (q.v. the link above) state that Barrett wasn't participating in the 11/1969 sessions, I'm pretty sure that all the guitars are played by Ayers.

But, interestingly, the third version Take 103 (rec.12/1969) includes a really demented and ferocious guitar solo at 1:22 - and this solo unmistakably has Syd's handwriting. And this is the session in which Syd actually participated - he is simply mislabelled on the album reissue. If you trace this solo track back and forth through the song, you'll see that in fact it's one constant guitar sound stretching from the beginning to the end. To me it's impossible to imagine that Ayers recorded this electric 6-string track; he, for sure, was responsible for the Barrett-ish electric 12-string raga licks in the left channel, but the savage shredding in the right channel is definitely Syd Barrett.

And the vocals? There are indeed certain places where you hear a voice sounding seemingly different to Ayers'. But due to a tape blackout at 4:25 you hear one of these backing voices singing solo, and it sounds a lot like Richard Sinclair of Caravan - who definitely played on this session. The second myth is that Dave Sinclair of Caravan plays organ on the finished single version. To put it short - there's no organ to be heard anywhere.


Taken together this album is highly recommendable to every listener of sophisticated pop music with lots of experimental twists. There are only minor flaws which still make me just give a really good 4 star rating. It really comes close to a masterpiece, it includes utterly good bonus tracks and stands out as a pretty unique album of its own - a melancholic, thoroughly British and sometimes downright absurd blueprint for the kind of album which lots of today's bands try but fail to recreate.

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

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