1980's That's What You Get Babe saw Kevin Ayers come as close to commercial pop as he would ever get, trading in his incongruous personality and peculiar musical style for some rather straight-laced rock & roll. Those who have grown accustomed to Ayers' eccentric whimsy and colorful unconventionality will most definitely be disappointed here, and what he loses in flamboyancy he tries to make up for in melody and hooks but an array of keyboards and other instrumental fluff seem to get in his way, eventually overriding his singing and weighing down the album. Tracks such as "That's What You Get," "Super Salesman," "You Never Outrun Your Heart," and "Given and Taken" are well-sung pop efforts, and there's enough of Ayers' vocal zing to keep them from being total washouts, but they just can't compete with Ayers' flavorful history. "Money, Money, Money," "Miss Hanaga," and "Idiots" rekindle a little bit of the old Kevin Ayers but fail to harbor the same type of flair and extravagance of past endeavors. It's obvious that Ayers gambled, thinking that his elaborate musical showmanship would be deemed unfit and passé for the '80s, but after this release it was evident that fans wanted the same old Ayers and this his offbeat charisma could never really be traded in. That's What You Get Babe sold poorly and ultimately ended his relationship with Harvest. A couple of the albums that followed, Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain and Deja Vu were also lackluster mainstream affairs which suffered the same ill fate for their associated labels.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne