Kevin Ayers

Singing the Bruise: The BBC Sessions, 1970-1972

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Of the several Ayers BBC collections that have been assembled, this is the most interesting, focusing as it does on the most interesting phase of his solo career. Taken from four sessions (three of them from 1970), it has a good cross section of some of the better songs from his early career, including "Lady Rachel," "Whatevershebringswesing," and a revamp of his Soft Machine numbers "We Did It Again" and "Why Are We Sleeping?." About half of this is pretty uncommon material: the verging-on-tipsy "Derby Day" and "You Say You Like My Hat" don't seem to have shown up on any studio releases (though the latter appears on a recording of a 1972 show, Banana Follies), "Gemini Child" only showed up as an outtake on the Odd Ditties collection, and "Butterfly Dance" was a 1970 single. Furthermore, there's a cover of "Falling in Love Again," the pop standard whose languor lends itself well to Ayers' low, crooning voice, and "Queen Thing," which is nothing more than a brief satire of "Wild Thing." You get to hear a few different lineups of musicians as well, with the Whole World (including Mike Oldfield) backing him on two of the 1970 sessions and the Soft Machine plus David Beford and Lol Coxhill playing on the earliest 1970 session. By contrast, the 1972 session has a nice skeletal feel, for the most part drumless, with low-key reverbed guitar and harmonica. A good-humored whimsy permeates all of these tracks, which are more of a worthwhile supplement to the artist's studio discography than most such BBC session anthologies are.

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