Kevin Ayers

Kevin Ayers (Aug. 16, 1944 — Feb. 18, 2013) was an English singer–songwriter who co-founded Soft Machine. After their 1968 debut album, he went solo with the 1969 Harvest release Joy of a Toy. Between 1970 and 1988, he released twelve albums. Island Records documented his all-star concert with Brian Eno, John Cale, and Nico on the live release June 1, 1974.


Early Life

Ayers was born on August 16, 1944, in Herne Bay, Kent. His father, Rowan Ayers (1922–2008), was a television executive who produced the 1960s BBC programs  Line-Up and Late Night Line-Up. Rowan created the BBC2 music program The Old Grey Whistle Test, which aired between 1971 and 1988 and showcased Kevin’s colleagues.

Kevin’s parents divorced when he was a child. His mother married a civil servant and moved with her son to Malaya (then a British colony), where Kevin acclimated to the tropical surroundings of the Southeast Asian island. At age twelve, he returned to England and later attended college in Canterbury.

In 1964, Ayers joined local R&B-beatsters The Wilde Flowers as their lead singer.


Joy of a Toy

Kevin Ayers released his debut solo album, Joy of a Toy, in November 1969 on Harvest.

1. “Joy of a Toy Continued” (2:53)
2. “Town Feeling” (4:51)
3. “The Clarietta Rag” (3:20)
4. “Girl on a Swing” (2:49)
5. “Song for Insane Times” (4:01)

6. “Stop This Train (Again Doing it)” (6:06)
7. “Eleanor’s Cake (Which Ate Her)” (2:53)
8. “The Lady Rachel” (5:17)
9. “Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong” (5:35)
10. “All This Crazy Gift of Time” (3:53)

Recorded 17 June–11 September 1969
Studio Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer Kevin Ayers & Peter Jenner

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


Shooting at the Moon

Kevin Ayers released his second album, Shooting at the Moon, in October 1970 on Harvest. Tom Fu (a subsequent Gong cover artist) designed the monochrome spherical-image cover, which bills the act as Kevin Ayers and the Whole World.

1. “May I?” (4:01)
2. “Rheinhardt & Geraldine/Colores Para Dolores” (5:41)
3. “Lunatics Lament” (4:53)
4. “Pisser Dans un Violon” (8:02)

5. “The Oyster and the Flying Fish” (2:37)
6. “Underwater” (3:54)
7. “Clarence in Wonderland” (2:06)
8. “Red Green and You Blue” (3:52)
9. “Shooting at the Moon” (5:53)

Recorded April–September 1970
Studio Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer Kevin Ayers and Peter Jenner
Peter Mews – engineer

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

Bridget St. John – vocals (5)
Robert Wyatt – vocals (2)


Whatevershebringswesing

Kevin Ayers released his third album, Whatevershebringswesing, in November 1971 on Harvest.

1. “There is Loving/Among Us/There is Loving” (7:22)
2. “Margaret” (3:20)
3. “Oh My” (2:59)
4. “Song from the Bottom of a Well” (4:37)
5. “Whatevershebringswesing” (8:13)
6. “Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes” (3:24)
7. “Champagne Cowboy Blues” (3:56)
8. “Lullaby” (2:14)

Recorded March–August 1971
Studio Abbey Road Studios, London

Kevin Ayers – vocals, guitar, bass (6)
David Bedford – keyboards, orchestral arrangements
Mike Oldfield – bass (1, 3–5), guitar (5, 7, 9)
Dave Dufort – drums (1, 4–5)
William Murray – percussion (2–3, 7)
Tony Carr – drums (6, 12)
Robert Wyatt – harmony vocals (5)
Didier Malherbe – saxophone (1), flute (8)
Gerry Fields – violin (3)
Johnny Van Derrick– violin (2, 7)
Bruce Malamut – flugelhorns (1), incidental brass (1–2, 5–6, 8, 12), assistant engineer (1–2)

Technical
Andrew King – producer
Kevin Ayers – producer
Peter Mews – engineer
John Barrett – engineer
Adrian Boot – design
Adrian Lyne – photography

“Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes” / “Stars”
Released: 27 August 1971
B. “Stars” (3:32)


Bananamour

Kevin Ayers released his fourth album, Bananamour, in May 1973 on Harvest.

1. “Don’t Let It Get You Down (For Rachel)” (3:58)
2. “Shouting in a Bucket Blues” (3:44)
3. “When Your Parents Go to Sleep” (5:46)
4. “Interview” (4:44)
5. “Internotional Anthem” (0:40)

6. “Decadence” (8:02)
7. “Oh! Wot A Dream” (2:48) is about Syd Barrett.
8. “Hymn” (4:34)
9. “Beware of the Dog” (1:20)

Recorded September–October 1972
Studio Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer Kevin Ayers Andrew King

Kevin Ayers – guitar, vocals
Archie Legget – bass, harmony vocals, lead vocal (3)
Eddie Sparrow – drums

Additional musicians
Steve Hillage – lead guitar (2)
Mike Ratledge – organ (4)
Robert Wyatt – harmony vocal (8)
David Bedford – orchestral arrangement (9)
Howie Casey – tenor saxophone
Dave Caswell – trumpet
Tristan Fry – cymbal
Lyle Jenkins – baritone saxophone
Ronnie Price – piano
Barry St. John, Liza Strike, Doris Troy – backing vocals

Technical
Kevin Ayers – producer
Andrew King – producer
John Kurlander – engineer
Bob Lawrie – cover art
Richard Imrie – photography

“Oh! Wot A Dream”
Released: November 10, 1972


The Confessions of Doctor Dream and Other Stories

Kevin Ayers released his fifth album, The Confessions of Doctor Dream and Other Stories, in May 1974 on Island.

1. “Day By Day” (3:49)
2. “See You Later” (0:28)
3. “Didn’t Feel Lonely Till I Thought of You” (4:10)
4. “Everybody’s Sometime and Some People’s All the Time Blues” (3:05)
5. “It Begins With a Blessing/Once I Awakened/But It Ends With a Curse” (8:19)
6. “Ballbearing Blues” 0:55

7. “The Confessions of Doctor Dream
    Pt 1 “Irreversible Neural Damage” (4:44)
    Pt 2 “Invitation” (1:12)
    Pt 3 “The One Chance Dance” (7:49)
    Pt 4 “Doctor Dream Theme” (5:12)
8. “Two Goes Into Four” (1:38)

Recorded February–March 1974
Studio AIR Studios, London
Ramport Studios, London

Kevin Ayers – guitars, vocals; piano & organ (7)
Mark Warner – electric guitar (1, 3, 5, 10), acoustic guitar (2, 7)
Sam Mitchell – electric guitar (1, 3-4)
Ollie Halsall – electric guitar solo (3)
Cal Batchelor – electric guitar (4)
Mike Oldfield – electric guitar solo (4)
John Perry – bass (1-3, 5)
John Gustafson – bass (8)
Trevor Jones – bass (9)
Michael Giles – drums (1-3, 5, 7-10)
The G’Deevy Ensemble – percussion (1)
Ray Cooper – percussion (2, 9)
Henry Crallan – piano (4)
Rupert Hine – keyboards (5-10)
Mike Moran – piano (5)
Steve Nye – organ (5), electric piano (8)
Mike Ratledge – organ (9)
Lol Coxhill – alto saxophone (5)
Nico – vocals (7)
Doris Troy, Rosetta Hightower, Joanne Williams – backing vocals (1, 3)
Sean Milligan – backing vocals (2)
Hulloo Choir – backing vocals (5, 10)

Technical
Rupert Hine – producer
John Punter – engineer
Steve Nye – engineer
Gerry Leitch, Sean Milligan – assistant engineer
Simon Jeffes – additional brass arrangements
George Smith, James Wedge – illustration

16. “The Up Song” 1973 non-album single (3:18)
17. “After the Show” 1974 non-album single (2:37)
18. “Thank You Very Much” B-side of “After the Show” (3:01)


Sweet Deceiver

Kevin Ayers released his sixth album, Sweet Deceiver, in March 1975 on Island.

1. “Observations” (4:20)
2. “Guru Banana” (2:43)
3. “City Waltz” (3:30)
4. “Toujours La Voyage” (8:56)

5. “Sweet Deceiver” (3:47)
6. “Diminished But Not Finished” (2:52)
7. “Circular Letter” (4:27)
8. “Once Upon An Ocean” (3:27)
9. “Farewell Again (Another Dawn)” (3:11)

Recorded 1975
Studio The Manor Studio, Shipton-on-Cherwell, England

Kevin Ayers – vocals, fuzz bass, electric and acoustic 6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin
Freddie Smith – drums
Ollie Halsall – lead, acoustic and bass guitar, mandolin, honk piano, vibes, backing vocals (8)
Ollie Halsall is credited on the original album as Ollie Haircut.
Additional musicians
Jacob Magnusson – organ, accordion, piano, clavinet, (tracks 1, 3–4, 6, 8), vocals (1)
John Altman – clarinet (2)
Fuzzy Samuels – bass guitar (8)
Elton John – piano (2, 4, 7)
Bias Boshell – piano (5)
Chili Charles – drums (8)
Muscle Shoals Horns – brass (8)
The Manor choir – backing vocals (3, 8)

Technical
Kevin Ayers, Ollie Halsall – producers
Steve Cox – engineer
Vic Gamm – engineer
Joe Gaffney – photography
Tony Wright – cover art


Yes We Have No Mañanas-So Get Your Mañanas Today

Kevin Ayers released his seventh album, Yes We Have No Mañanas-So Get Your Mañanas Today, in June 1976 on Harvest and ABC (US).

1. “Star” (4:18)
2. “Mr. Cool” (3:00)
3. “The Owl” (3:14)
4. “Love’s Gonna Turn You Round” (4:52)
5. “Falling in Love Again” (2:36) Reginald Connelly, Friedrich Hollander

6. “Help Me” (2:40)
7. “Ballad of Mr Snake” (2:02)
8. “Everyone Knows The Song” (2:33)
9. “Yes I Do” (3:08)
10. “Blue” (6:26)

Recorded Spring 1976
Studio Basing Street, London

Kevin Ayers – guitar, vocals
Billy Livsey – keyboards
Charlie McCracken – bass
Ollie Halsall – lead guitar
Rob Townsend – drums, percussion
Roger Saunders – rhythm guitar

Additional musicians
B.J. Cole – steel guitar (3, 5)
Rick Wills – bass (6)
Zoot Money – keyboards (6)
Tony Newman – drums (6)
Andy Roberts – guitar (8)
Mickey Feat – bass (8)
Nick Rowley – keyboards (8)
Roger Pope – drums (8)
Pip Williams – arranger (5)
David Bedford – choral arranger (10)

Technical
Muff Winwood – producer
Mike Robinson – engineer
Peter Mew – mastering
Peter Shepherd – design
Peter Vernon – photography
Mark Powell – liner notes

“Falling in Love Again”
Released: March 5, 1976 (Europe only)
“Star”
Released: April 22, 1977 (UK only)
“Mr. Cool”
Released: 1977 (US only)


Rainbow Takeaway

Kevin Ayers released his eighth album, Rainbow Takeaway, in April 1978 on Harvest.

1. “Blaming It All on Love” (3:00)
2. “Ballad of a Salesman Who Sold Himself” (4:30)
3. “A View from the Mountain” (6:15)
4. “Rainbow Takeaway” (3:50)
5. “Waltz for You” (5:22)
6. “Beware of the Dog II” (5:59)
7. “Strange Song” (2:41)
8. “Goodnight Goodnight” (3:06)
9. “Hat Song” (1:17)

Recorded 1978
Studio Workshop Studio, UK

Kevin Ayers – guitar, vocals
Ollie Halsall – guitar
Billy Livsey – keyboards
Rob Townsend – drums
Charles McCracken – bass, guitar
Anthony Moore – keyboards
Graham Preskett – violin
Barry DeSouza – drums

Technical
Anthony Moore – producer
Kevin Ayers – producer
Brian Palmer – art direction
Sharon Coventry – artwork
Peter Vernon – photography


That’s What You Get Babe

Kevin Ayers released his ninth album, That’s What You Get Babe, in February 1980 on Harvest.

1. “That’s What You Get” (3:16)
2. “Where Do I Go From Here” (2:39)
3. “You Never Outrun Your Heart” (3:06)
4. “Given and Taken” (2:54)
5. “Idiots” (3:07)
6. “Super Salesman” (5:03)
7. “Money Money Money” (3:12)
8. “Miss Hanaga” (3:18)
9. “I’m So Tired” (2:36)
10. “Where Do The Stars End” (3:03)

Studio Vineyard Studios, UK

Kevin Ayers – guitar, vocals
Graham Preskett – guitar, violin, keyboards, backing vocals, banjo, mandolin
Ollie Halsall – guitar (1–3, 5–10) bass (7), slide guitar (5, 10), backing vocals
Mo Foster – bass (1–6, 9–10)
Liam Genockey – drums (1–6, 9–10)

Additional musicians
Roy Jones – percussion (1–2, 6, 8)
Neil Lancaster – backing vocals (1, 3, 7–8, 10)
Clare Torry – backing vocals (1, 3, 7–8, 10)
Trevor Murrell – drums (8), percussion (3, 10)
Geoff Whitehorn – lead guitar (2)

Technical
Graham Preskett – producer
Simaen Skolfield – engineer
Edwin Cross, Laurie Latham, Rick Walton – assistant engineers
Roger Dopson – liner notes

“Money, Money, Money”
Released: February 15, 1980


Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain

Kevin Ayers released his tenth album, Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain, in June 1983 on Charly.

1. “Madame Butterfly” (4:30)
2. “Lay Lady Lay” (4:19) Bob Dylan
3. “Who’s Still Crazy” (4:46)
4. “You Keep Me Hangin’ on” (3:26) J.J. Cale
5. “You Are a Big Girl” (3:31)
6. “Steppin’ Out” (5:15) Ayers, Ollie Halsall
7. “My Speeding Heart” (4:19)
8. “Howling Man” (3:28)
9. “Give a Little Bit” (3:51)
10. “Champagne and Valium” (3:05)

Recorded in Spain

Kevin Ayers – guitar, vocals
Ollie Halsall – guitar, backing vocals
Carlos Garcia Vaso – guitars & keyboards
Joaquin Montoya – keyboards
Manolo Aguilar – bass
Javier de Juan – drums, percussion
Zanna Gregmar – backing vocals
Jimmy Kashisian – horn arrangements

Technical
Julian Ruiz – producer
Luis F. Soria – engineer
Yeldham Muchmore – design

“My Speeding Heart”
Released: July 1983


Deià…Vu

Kevin Ayers released his eleventh album, Deià…Vu, in March 1984 on Blau. The title references Spains Deià village in Majorca. Despite its release date, this is technically Ayers’ tenth solo album, recorded in December 1980 (pre-Diamond Jack).

1. “Champagne and Valium” (5:18)
2. “Thank God for a Sense of Humor” (3:52)
3. “Take It Easy” (2:59)
4. “Stop Playing with My Heart (You Are a Big Girl)” (3:33)
5. “My Speeding Heart” (2:59)
6. “Lay Lady Lay” (5:00) Bob Dylan
7. “Stop Playing With My Heart II” (2:47)
8. “Be Aware of the Dog” (4:49)

Recorded December 1980
Studio Estudios Maller, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Kevin Ayers – lead vocals, guitar
Joan Bibiloni – guitars
Ollie Halsall – bass, guitar (7)
Daniel Lagarde – bass
Quique Villafania – drums
Miguel Figuerola – drums
Zanna Gregmar – keyboards, backing vocals
Jorge Pardo – saxophone
Linda Novit – backing vocals

Technical
Kevin Ayers – producer
Joan Bibiloni – producer
Reinaldo Costantini – engineer
Olaguer Armengol – photography

“My Speeding Heart”
Released: July 1983


Discography:

  • Joy of a Toy (1969)
  • Shooting at the Moon (1970 • Kevin Ayers and the Whole World)
  • Whatevershebringswesing (1972)
  • Bananamour (1973)
  • The Confessions of Doctor Dream and Other Stories (1974)
  • Sweet Deceiver (1975)
  • Yes We Have No Mañanas-So Get Your Mañanas Today (1976)
  • Rainbow Takeaway (1978)
  • That’s What You Get Babe (1980)
  • Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain (1983)
  • Deià…Vu (1984)
  • As Close as You Think (1986)
  • Falling Up (1988)
  • Still Life With Guitar (1992)

Sources:

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