Kevin Ayers belongs to that list of late 1960s musicians such as Nick Drake and Syd Barrett who retain their English accent on record. Indeed, Ayers is also one of those who largely ploughs his own furrow while betraying occasional glimpses of outside influence. Routinely described as eccentric, his debut album is aptly named as joy is the feeling that predominates, despite several mood changes. 'Joy Of A Toy Continued' sets out his manifesto with its village green carnival attitude. Both 'Town Feeling' and 'The Clarietta Rag' partly resemble John Lennon's style, the latter having a similar melody to 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite'. Ayers is much farther out than The Beatles, however, this being an album you might expect Sergeant Pepper to make if he met Syd Barrett on his weekend off. It abounds with pop melodies, intriguing lyrics and a powerful cocktail of innocence and mischief.
'Girl On A Swing' features a light-headed piano pattern crossed with psychedelic guitar effects. This ability to experiment with unusual arrangements is even more effective on the mock-Romantic 'Lady Rachel' and 'Stop This Train'. 'Song For Insane Times' is more conventional but the thought-provoking lyric is the star, as is the case with 'Eleanor's Cake'. Undoubtedly, the weirdest, trippiest track is the mad 'Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong' which, if you're not careful, goes round your head for hours afterwards. The straightest track, 'All This Crazy Gift Of Time' is, significantly, the least memorable.
The bonus song, 'Singing A Song In The Morning' is, with or without Syd Barrett, the most exhilarating experience on the CD and should have been a hit. Trying to describe Ayers's music is akin to pulling the sword from the stone. Suffice to say that if you like imaginative, melodic music with a good dose of experimentation, this album is a must.