Kevin Ayers – a chronological playlist (part 2)
Published on March 3rd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Here is part 2 of Rocksucker’s chronological Kevin Ayers playlist…(click here for part 1)…
“Where Do the Stars End” (from 1980 LP That’s What You Get Babe)
“Why am I feeling so far from home?” asks Ayers on this swaying, nocturnal closer, inadvertently reflecting the end of the ‘golden period’ as represented in part 1 of our playlist. This makes for a gorgeous end to an album of slightly dodgy ’80s pop, showcasing that effortless way he had with conjuring the most sublime progressions and making it sound like the most natural thing in the world.
“Thank God for a Sense of Humor” (from 1984 LP Deià…Vu)
Further proof that his gifts never fully deserted him, this is – as implied by its title – silly as anything, with one of his patented killer chord changes thrown in to seal the deal and elevate it to the realms of greatness with an almost offhand ease.
“That’s What We Did Today” (from 1988 LP Falling Up)
The simple, introductory piano motif threatens to lead into cheesy, vacuous ’80s melodrama….but leads instead into one of Ayers’s most astounding numbers: a song about wasting time that couldn’t have been less of a waste of time if it tried. That tick-tock percussion in the second verse is stunningly effective, as are the female backing vocals, and the…well, everything about this. This isn’t just a strong latter-day number, this is a true Ayers classic.
“Am I Really Marcel?” (from 1988 LP Falling Up)
“I’m naturally lazy but what can I do I? / I was born in the wrong place, wrong time too” – that may be so, but the triplety sway and universal yet subtly sophisticated chord progression add up to another belter on an album that represents something of a return to form. Surely it has all the ingredients of a song that would get radio play through the ages – and although Ayers never quite managed to achieve that scale of hit, he sure wrote a lot of that should have.
“Thank You Very Much” – (from 1992 LP Still Life With Guitar)
Not a reprise of “Blue Suede Shoes” despite the title, these shimmering waves of crystalline strings could have come from some lost Louis Armstrong classic. “This sleepy refrain”, as Ayers puts it in the lyrics, is built around nylon finger-picking, jazz-brush drumming, that sweetly laid-back baritone…ah, it’s just wonderful.
“Only Heaven Knows” (from 2007 LP The Unfairground)
Ayers’s final album was recorded with a stellar cast including members of The Ladybug Transistor, Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Roxy Music, receiving widespread acclaim off the back of such charming ditties as this playful opener. In our 2011 interview with him, Ladybug Transistor front man Gary Olson said of Ayers: “I think he seems happiest just in the little town in the south of France where he lives, keeping it quiet and going fishing. That seems to be his main hobby, just to live life pretty simply. I would love to see him playing again though.” Amen to that, brother.
“Happy birthday to you all
I hope you really have ball.
And when you’re walking up the road,
I hope you finally explode!
Now it’s time to go.
I hope I don’t leave you feeling low, oh no….”
– Kevin Ayers (1944 – 2013)