Thursday, July 22, 2021

Kevin Ayers: Joy Of A Toy 1969 + Kevin Ayers And The Whole World: Shooting At The Moon 1970


Kevin Ayers (16 August 1944 – 18 February 2013) was an English singer-songwriter who was active in

the English psychedelic music movement. Ayers was a founding member of the psychedelic band Soft Machine in the mid-1960s, and was closely associated with the Canterbury scene. He recorded a series of albums as a solo artist and over the years worked with Brian Eno, Syd Barrett, Bridget St John, John Cale, Elton John, Robert Wyatt, Andy Summers, Mike Oldfield, Nico and Ollie Halsall, among others.

He was quickly drafted into the Wilde Flowers, a band that featured Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper, as well as future members of Caravan. Ayers stated in interviews that the primary reason he was asked to join was that he probably had the longest hair. However, this prompted him to start writing songs and

singing. The Wilde Flowers evolved into Caravan after Ayers and Wyatt left and eventually joined keyboardist Mike Ratledge and guitarist Daevid Allen to form Soft Machine.
Ayers switched to bass (and later both guitar and bass following Allen's departure from that group) and shared vocals with the drummer Robert Wyatt. The group's sound contrasted between Ayers' baritone and Wyatt's tenor singing, plus a mix of rock and jazz. The band often shared stages (particularly at the UFO Club) with Pink Floyd.

[Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger
Kevin Ayers was one of rock's oddest and more likable enigmas, even if he often seemed not to operate

at his highest potential. Perhaps that's because he never seemed to have taken his music too seriously -- one of his essential charms and most aggravating limitations. After the late '60s, he released many albums with a distinctly British sensibility, making ordinary lyrical subjects seem extraordinary with his rich low vocals, inventive wordplay, and bemused, relaxed attitude. Apt to flavor his songs with female backup choruses and exotic island rhythms, the singer/songwriter inspired the image of a sort of progressive rock beach bum, writing about life's absurdities with a celebratory, relaxed detachment. Yet he was also one of progressive rock's more important (and more humane) innovators, helping to launch Soft Machine as their original bassist, and working with noted European progressive musicians like Mike Oldfield, Lol Coxhill, and Steve Hillage.

Ayers cultivated a taste for the bohemian lifestyle early, spending much of his childhood in Majorca

before he moved with his mother to Canterbury in the early '60s. There he fell in with the town's fermenting underground scene, which included future members of Soft Machine and Caravan. For a while he sang with the Wilde Flowers, a group that also included future Softs Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper. He left in 1965, met fellow freak Daevid Allen in Majorca, and returned to the U.K. in 1966 to found the first Soft Machine lineup with Allen, Wyatt, and Mike Ratledge.

Wyatt is often regarded as the prime mover behind Soft Machine, but Ayers' contributions carried equal

weight in the early days. Besides playing bass, he wrote and sang much of their material. He can be heard on their 1967 demos and their 1968 debut album, but by the end of 1968 he felt burned out and quit. Selling his bass to Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, he began to write songs on guitar, leading to a contract with Harvest in 1969. His relationship with his ex-Soft Machine mates remained amiable; in fact, Wyatt and Ratledge (as well as Ayers' replacement, Hugh Hopper) guested on Ayers' 1969 debut.

Ayers' solo material reflected a folkier, lazier, and gentler bent than Soft Machine. In some respects he was comparable to Syd Barrett, without the madness -- and without the ferocious heights of

Barrett's most innovative work.
Ayers was never less than enjoyable and original, though his albums were erratic right from the start, veering from singalong ditties and pleasant, frothy folk ballads to dissonant improvisation. The more ambitious progressive rock elements came to the forefront when he fronted the Whole World in the early '70s. The backing band included a teenage Mike Oldfield on guitar, Lol Coxhill on sax, and David Bedford on piano. But Ayers only released one album with them before they dissolved.

Ayers continued to release albums in a poppier vein throughout the '70s, at a regular pace. As some critics have noted, this dependable output formed an ironic counterpoint to much of his lyrics, which

often celebrated a life of leisure, or even laziness. That lazy charm was often a dominant feature of his records, although Ayers always kept things interesting with offbeat arrangements, occasionally singing in foreign tongues, and flavoring his production with unusual instruments and world music rhythms. He (or Harvest) never gave up on the singles market, and indeed his best early-'70s efforts in that direction were accessible enough to have been hits with a little more push. Or a little less weirdness. Even Ayers at his most accessible and direct wasn't mainstream, a virtue that endeared him to his loyal cult.

That cult was limited to the rock underground, and Ayers logically concentrated on the album market throughout the 1970s. Almost always pleasant, eccentric, and catchy, these nonetheless started to sound like a cul-de-sac by the mid-'70s. Ayers pressed on without changing his approach, despite the

dwindling audience for progressive rock and the oncoming train of punk and new wave. He only recorded sporadically after 1980, though he remained active in the early '90s, mostly on the European continent.
After living for many years in Deià, Majorca, he returned to the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s before moving to the south of France. His last album, The Unfairground, was released in 2007. The British rock journalist Nick Kent wrote: "Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett were the two most important people in British pop music. Everything that came after came from them."

Released in 2007, The Unfairground returned Ayers to the recording studio supported by a host of admiring younger musicians (including Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, Bill Wells, Frank Reader

from Trash Can Sinatras, and Euros Childs from Gorky's Zygotic Mynci) as well as old friends and collaborators (including Phil Manzanera, Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, and Bridget St. John). The album garnered a positive critical response but did not signal a return to the public eye for Ayers, however, and he returned to a reclusive life in the south of France. Ayers died in February 2013 at his home in the village of Montolieu; he was 68 years old.

JOY OF A TOY  1969


Joy of a Toy is the debut solo album of Kevin Ayers, a founding member of Soft Machine. Its whimsical and singular vision provides hints of how Soft Machine might have progressed had Ayers remained in the band. He is accompanied on the LP by pianist and arranger David Bedford as well as his erstwhile Soft Machine colleagues Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge, and his eventual replacement Hugh Hopper, who had previously worked with him in the semi-pro band Wilde Flowers. Among the session musicians are cellist and arranger Paul Buckmaster, jazz bassist Jeff Clyne, oboist Paul Minns (of Third Ear Band) and drummer Rob Tait (formerly of Pete Brown and His Battered Ornaments before going on to join Vinegar Joe).

01. Joy Of A Toy Continued     2:53
02. Town Feeling  4:50
03. The Clarietta Rag  3:20    
04. Girl On A Swing  2:49    
05. Song For Insane Times     4:01
06. Stop This Train (Again Doing It)  6:05    
07. Eleanor`s Cake (Which Ate Her)     2:54
08. The Lady Rachel  5:17    
09. Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong  5:35    
10. All This Crazy Gift Of Time  3:52

11. The Lady Rachel - Extended First Mix  6:44    
12. Clarence in Wonderland (BBC Top Gear Session)  4:52    
13. Stop This Train (Again Doing It)(BBC Top Gear Session)     5:47
14. Why Are We Sleeping (BBC Top Gear Session)  8:52    
15. You Say You Like My Hat (BBC Top Gear Session)     3:12


Kevin Ayers
– guitars, bass, melodica, harmonica, vocals
Robert Wyatt – drums
David Bedford – piano, mellotron, arranger
Mike Ratledge – organ
Hugh Hopper – bass (1 and 5)
Paul Buckmaster – cello
Jeff Clyne - double bass (2 and 7)
Rob Tait – drums (tracks 6 and 9)
Paul Minns – oboe



On a railway train to anywhere,
Something happened finally.
The driver said he saw no station
And we were riding aimlessly.

The train was filled with sleeping passengers,
Going nowhere for the ride;
Spoken whispers filled the carriages
No one cared to look outside.

Conversation aimed at anyone
Bouncing questions off the wall;
Except for two excited children.
Burning caterpillars in the hall.

All at once, I got quite frightened.
Standing up, I gave a shout!
"I see a station just in front of me,
Stop this train and let me out!"

The driver smiled and shook his head for me,
"This train don't stop for anyone.
And, if you want to leave this railway line,
You'll have to jump off on your own.

Someone came and gave me sandwiches,
Saying that I looked unwell.
He took my pulse and he gave it back to me,
And then he hit me with his bell.

He made a speech to all the passengers,
He said "i've been a place today;
And anyone who'd care to come with me.
Step outside and walk this way."

Inside the seats were warm and comfortable,
Outside the train was wild and strange.
I said, "yes, sir, I'd like to come with you,
It's really time I made a change."

I left my seat and walked up front with him,
And he began to push the door.
I looked outside, but it nearly blinded me.
I'd never seen such light before.

MP3 @ 320 Size: 167 MB
Flac  Size: 430 MB



Shooting at the Moon is the second solo album of Kevin Ayers, on Harvest Records. David Ross Smith

of AllMusic writes: "A snapshot of the era, the album is saturated with original ideas, experimentation, and lunacy, all powered by the bottled grape."
In early 1970, Ayers assembled a band he called The Whole World to tour his debut LP Joy of a Toy that included a young Mike Oldfield, David Bedford, Lol Coxhill, Mick Fincher, the folk singer Bridget St. John and Robert Wyatt. After a UK tour, Ayers took the Whole World into the studio to cut an LP, produced, like his debut, with Peter Jenner.

The line-up produced a heady mixture of ideas and experimentation with two distinctive styles emerging; carefree ballads like "Clarence in Wonderland" and "May I?" abutted the avant-garde experimentation of songs like "Reinhardt and Geraldine" and "Underwater". The album has since become a best seller in Ayers' catalogue.



01. May I?  4:01    
02. Rheinhardt & Geraldine / Colores Para Delores  5:40    
03. Lunatics Lament  4:53    
04. Pisser Dans Un Violon  8:03     
05. The Oyster And The Flying Fish  2:37    
06. Underwater      3:54
07. Clarence In Wonderland  2:06    
08. Red Green And You Blue  3:52    
09. Shooting At The Moon  5:50

10. Gemini Child (BBC Alan Black Session)  3:13    
11. The Lady Rachel (BBC Alan Black Session)  6:20    
12. Shooting At The Moon (BBC Alan Black Session)  3:17    
13. Derby Day (BBC Top Gear Session 9 June 1970)  3:06    
14. Interview (BBC Top Gear Session 9 June 1970)  0:58    
15. We Did It Again / Murder In The Air (BBC Top Gear Session 9 June 1970) 11:37


Kevin Ayers – guitar, bass, vocals

The Whole World

David Bedford
– organ, piano, accordion, marimbaphone, guitar
Lol Coxhill – saxophone, zoblophone
Mike Oldfield – bass, guitar and vocal
Mick Fincher – drums, percussion, bottles & ashtrays
The Whole World Chorus – backing vocals

Additional musicians

Bridget St. John – vocals ("The Oyster And The Flying Fish")
Robert Wyatt – vocals ("Colores Para Delores")

MP3 @ 320 Size: 163 MB
Flac  Size: 386 MB