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The Unfairground

Kevin Ayers

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

Prog-rock innovator Kevin Ayers’ final album sums up the intelligence, droll humor, and fierce creativity that characterized his 40-plus years in music. The Unfairground features contributions from old comrades like Robert Wyatt and Phil Manzanera as well as younger admirers like Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Julian Koster (Neutral Milk Hotel), Gary Olsen (Ladybug Transistor), and Euros Childs (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci). Rising to the occasion, Ayers delivers a batch of revelatory, often brutally honest songs dealing with love and loss. These serious topics are infused with a buoyancy and musical wit that combine folk and psychedelic strains with touches of vaudeville and classic pop. A happy/sad sort of acceptance informs “Only Heaven Knows,” “Cold Shoulder," and the title track. With hard-won insight, Ayers punctures inflated egos in “Walk on Water” and says goodbye to a double-dealing lover in “Friends and Strangers.” Unsettling numbers like “Brainstorm” find balance in the jaunty sing-along “Run Run Run.” Fat brass passages and whimsical strings enrich the arrangements, and Ayers’ husky bass vocals convey a wry gravitas.

Customer Reviews

Good place to start for a first taste of Kevin Ayers

Ayers' voice is rather remincent of Leonard Cohen, especially on this album. The music is properly subtle, letting Ayers' voice do most of the work, which turns out quite well. "Only Heaven Knows" has an interesting cadence worth taking note of, backed very softly by the Liverpudlian singer and friend Candie Payne. Overall, the album's combination of subtlety and understated restraint/melancholy provide for a good example of Ayers' work.

Not the Place To Start

This is a surprisingly great swansong to a recently late great talent. But not the place to start. Gotta go all the way back to 1969's Joy of a Toy for that. For what can only be described as a Sgt. Pepper's meets Nick Drake tripping on Syd Barrett's left over acid (Barrett actually played guitar on Joy ). Then follow up with Whatevershebringswesing and Confessions of Dr. Dream & Other Tales and Bananamour. All of which will enhance your enjoyment of this, which comes after decade or almost two of silence.


Born: August 16, 1945 in Herne Bay, Kent, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Kevin Ayers was one of rock's oddest and more likable enigmas, even if he often seemed not to operate at his highest potential. Perhaps that's because he never seemed to have taken his music too seriously — one of his essential charms and most aggravating limitations. After the late '60s, he released many albums with a distinctly British sensibility, making ordinary lyrical subjects seem extraordinary with his rich low vocals, inventive wordplay, and bemused, relaxed attitude. Apt to flavor...
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