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13 August 2009

Kevin Ayers - 'Whatevershebringswesing' (Harvest)

The third Kevin Ayers album leaves behind the outer excursions of the Whole World and goes the mainstream way (aka "way mainstream"). But there's something I really love about this album - it's genuinely dark, more reflective than his other stuff, and apart from the occasional burst of whimsy ('Oh My') it sounds like a real person in a way we haven't heard yet from K.A. I've always thought of these first 3 albums as a trilogy, though listening in sequence they are really quite different beasts. And Whatevershebringswesing opens with a trilogy of its own - 'There is Loving'/'Among Us'/'There is Loving'. The strings are thick, but not saccharine. It still has that strangely continental feel - maybe Kevin Ayers is pop music for the British expatriate in all of us -- but maybe he'd been listening to lots of Jacques Brel by this point. 'Song From the Bottom of a Well' is a grinding, dark song with Lee Ranaldo-style guitar solos; though Ayers is singing in an affected character voice I've always been pretty forgiving because the song takes monotony to the point of beauty. I think Ayers was genuinely a bit depressed during the making of this album, but he's trying to save face. I've always liked albums when the depression is genuine, like Big Star Third for example - the songs aren't all blatant doom 'n gloom like Joy Division or Shakespeare's Sister, but soaked with something real. Or maybe I am confusing depression with melancholy. Was it Stephen Wright who had some joke about "depression is merely anger without enthusiasm"? I don't know how that relates to 'Whatevershebringswesing' (the song) but there's some genuinely bluesy guitar playing and the chord changes are walking along some line, at least. 'Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes' is probably the biggest hit Ayers ever had, and though it's a nice bouncy tune he's certainly had better. A bit of 'Joy of a Toy' is mixed into 'Champange Cowboy Blues', a nice yet odd pastiche of postmodernism in a song which is otherwise memorable for its very porn guitar tone. The scary thing is we're not even halfway through the Kevin Ayers section of the Encourager Templates and the best stuff is all behind us now. So, hang on.

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