Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

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der nister
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Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby der nister » 04 Jul 2013, 03:08

One of the psych savants (Barrett, Spence, Twink, etc.,)
One of the smart ones, who survived
and produced a breezy croony prog pop
yet all the albums feel slight
helped out with Soft Machine and Gong
had great great players and singers in his bands/albums
BUT did he produce any great work? Do the albums deliver?
Did he reach his full potential or was he too laidback and wasted?
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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the 801
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby the 801 » 04 Jul 2013, 03:26

The last thing he ever did was neither laidback nor wasted. Full potential reached, IMHO...

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Charlie O.
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby Charlie O. » 04 Jul 2013, 03:46

I don't know his full oeuvre as intimately as some here, but I flat out adore the Harvest albums (and singles). And I agree that he went out on a high note with The Unfairground. He was the real deal.
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby RickLomas » 04 Jul 2013, 07:50

Morning, I had to join this forum just to answer this question as Kevin Ayers is someone I am deeply passionate about.

During his life he did abut 15 albums (depends slightly on what you class as albums/compilations/radio recordings etc. But to some them all up very quickly, the first 5 albums: Joy of a Toy 1969, Shooting at the Moon, Whatevershebringswesing, Bananamour and The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories are well worth owning and give you a good idea of what Kevin was all about. From stunning deep and weird tunes like 'Decadence' to the comical 'Hat', I honestly believe there is something for almost everyone in there.

My favourite album at the moment is The Unfairground which I only acquired this year, I'm not saying it is the best album (but it possibly is in some ways), but it's the one I listen to most.

Give Kevin Ayers a go you will be surprised! FYI I am putting together a website dedicated to the life and music of Kevin Ayers. I will try and put the address in my signature when I work out how to do it. (I know most forums don't allow newcomers to post links, so I won't).

Vive la banane!

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby The Modernist » 04 Jul 2013, 09:36

Posting music related links will be fine.
Welcome to the forum Rick.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 04 Jul 2013, 09:53

zphage wrote:One of the psych savants (Barrett, Spence, Twink, etc.,)
One of the smart ones, who survived
and produced a breezy croony prog pop
yet all the albums feel slight
helped out with Soft Machine and Gong
had great great players and singers in his bands/albums
BUT did he produce any great work? Do the albums deliver?
Did he reach his full potential or was he too laidback and wasted?


I think you touch on a lot of what makes Kevin Ayers less than essential. Undoubtedly he put out some good stuff, and fans will come on here to talk up his first few albums, but I do find most of it slight, and I think he WAS too much of a stoner to realise his full potential.

Whatevershebringswesing might be his best, but you won't find a The Madcap Laughs or a Rock Bottom in his back catalogue.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby Charlie O. » 04 Jul 2013, 14:00

To say that Ayers was "too much of a stoner to realise his full potential" and then praise The Madcap Laughs seems a bit, er, contradictory.
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby Diamond Dog » 04 Jul 2013, 14:02

I think Zoomboogity is your man for Kevin Ayers.
People go on too much about the privileged background of politicians but actually Matt Hancock had a very humble upbringing in an Italian workshop owned by a woodworker named Geppetto who turned him into a human boy.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 04 Jul 2013, 15:12

Charlie O. wrote:To say that Ayers was "too much of a stoner to realise his full potential" and then praise The Madcap Laughs seems a bit, er, contradictory.


:)

Syd's album is better than anything Kevin Ayers put out. That's all I was saying.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby Charlie O. » 04 Jul 2013, 15:34

Well, I don't want this to become another pointless apple vs. orange thread, especially as I do love TML - but I disagree.

In any event, I hear no unrealized potential in the early Ayers albums. I think they're exactly what the artist intended (and I question whether we can say the same for the Barrett albums) - I think the balance of inspiration, whimsy, and craft is pretty much just right. I very occasionally hear an artistic choice different from the one I would have made, but nothing that really bugs me.
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby C » 04 Jul 2013, 15:47

The G Experience! wrote:Welcome to the forum Rick.


Not 'arf lad

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby der nister » 04 Jul 2013, 16:00

C wrote:
The G Experience! wrote:Welcome to the forum Rick.


Not 'arf lad

Let's Rock

Yes, Let's Rock!

.


C'mon C
You gotta have some story about seeing, roadying, eating with Ayers!
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby zoomboogity » 04 Jul 2013, 18:11

Diamond Dog wrote:I think Zoomboogity is your man for Kevin Ayers.


Thanks, Pete. I do have some experience making music with Kevin, and although I wouldn't claim that this makes me more of an "expert" than the other Ayers fans here, I will say that if you can listen to Joy Of A Toy, Whatevershebringswesing, Bananamour or Rainbow Takeaway and consider them to be slight, then he's just not your thing. Not everything's gonna be.

The humor and (oh jeez, here comes that word) whimsy in the lyrics can obscure how dead serious they often are. That's what makes them more than mere novelty songs and gives them more resonance.

As for his potential, it's a bit of a miracle that he managed to forge a career in music at all, and on his own terms. After what he saw behind the scenes on those Hendrix/Soft Machine US tours in 1968, he knew the "big time showbiz" lifestyle would kill him if he didn't walk away. When he heard that Hendrix died a couple years later, the only thing that surprised him is what took so long. He brought Syd Barrett (whom he knew before Syd's breakdown) in for a recording session in 1969, and that was another lesson learned.

Good luck with your site, RickLomas, and welcome to our forum!
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der nister
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby der nister » 04 Jul 2013, 18:47

Zoom, when did you play with Ayers?
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby zoomboogity » 04 Jul 2013, 18:54

1998 and 2000. I wrote a bit more about it on Bobzilla's blog after Kevin passed away:

http://thelosangelesbeat.com/2013/03/in ... -1944-2013

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby yomptepi » 04 Jul 2013, 19:06

I find it hard to imagine any could find The Confessions of Dr Dream " slight ".

It was his last great record, but the five up to and including Dr Dream are weighty enough for those with an ear for them.
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby der nister » 04 Jul 2013, 19:08

zoomboogity wrote:1998 and 2000. I wrote a bit more about it on Bobzilla's blog after Kevin passed away:

http://thelosangelesbeat.com/2013/03/in ... -1944-2013



cool, very nice
I posted the story and link
two other places I posted the question
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby zoomboogity » 05 Jul 2013, 00:11

Cool, glad you enjoyed it!

One thing he said about those US tours was that, no matter how crazy and unpleasant things got with the travel, lack of sleep, rip-offs, hangers-on, etc., he could always look forward to standing in the wings after his own set and watching Hendrix play. He knew even then that Jimi was more than an innovator, he was a one-off. He saw dozens of Hendrix concerts from that vantage point, and that made it all worth it to him.

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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby Grollope » 06 Jul 2013, 02:26

Zoomie's the expert on here, I'm quite a fan myself and I enjoyed seeing him perform for over 30 years.

I'm sure Kevin himself would give a wry smile if he was asked if he'd done anything substantial. He was far too self-effacing, I guess he'd say he was proud of his daughters and how they turned out. As far his music, he'd say some of his songs were half-decent. The truth be known, some of them are classics and little masterpieces within themselves that will live forever.

He influenced generations of musicians, look who wanted to contribute to The Unfairground, his swansong album. He attracted wonderful sidemen to his bands throughout the years. One of the founder-members of the Underground scene, he left Soft Machine when they were changing to playing ever more complex time signatures. When he signed for Harvest his output was matching stablemates, Pink Floyd, album for album. I see some have said his albums were slight. Not so, but I can see how they might come to this conclusion as there's no one style of his songs, there doesn't seem to be any cohesion within any one album. This was something which was alien to Kevin. He wrote songs to reflect different aspects of his own personality, there were the Gurdjieff inspired songs - wake-up calls to all of us to live our lives to our true potential. The love and out-of-love songs that distilled a joyous or painful year of experience into a couplet. The if-it's-getting-too-serious-throw-in-a-banana songs of wit and whim. He wrote some songs in the style of other artists, be it The Velvet underground, Ray Charles or early Fleetwood Mac. So, only half a concept album (Doc Dream) out of the lot of them, but a huge number of musical styles used. The fact he could write in all these styles shows what an accomplished songwriter he was. He was also a proficient musician, playing lead, acoustic, bass, piano and harmonica. Some on here only saw him live towards the end of his career when he was already plagued by arthritis, so might judge him by that. And as a few of my ex-girlfriends who I took to gigs would readily testify, he was 'sex on a stick' to the ladies.

As John Peel wrote "Kevin Ayers' talent is so acute that you could perform major eye surgery with it.", I won't argue with that.
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der nister
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Re: Kevin Ayers: Did He Do Anything Substantial?

Postby der nister » 06 Jul 2013, 03:11

some nice insights without the standard vitriol
a nice thread, thanks everyone

It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.