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19
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Unfairground
Format: Audio CDChange
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2007
This new album from Kevin Ayers is simply wonderful. This is the first time I have been motivated to write an Amazon review. Yes I love this cd that much! It really is the sort of album that makes one remember why song and music is so important. From beginning to end it has incredible edge. A very shear edge of honest expression. It is not the edge Ayers gave us with his early albums when he was the darling of the underground. How could it be? Times change. Though Kevin Ayers is as authentic and as very convincing as he has ever been with his best work. Long ago he shrugged away the world of glamour and pop bubble reputation to live his own life. But what he has so clearly not left behind, as can be heard on this album, is his very apparent and extraordinary craft as a song writer. And it is this he uses to take stock of life with heart wrenching honesty. What we have here with The Unfairground is a collection of 10 sublime tracks with music so honed that every note expresses something true to the song it accompanies. Superb arrangements with at times strings that remind one of Forever Changes as on Friends and Strangers or the entreating horns on Baby Come Home that hint at the dry barren landscape of longing, the latter featuring vocal accompaniment from Bridget St. John. Only Heaven Knows has got to be one of the best album opening tracks ever. It's style echoes light hearted vaudeville yet asks "what do you do when it all behind you / every day something else reminds you / when the times were sweet......." At 35 minutes long you get the highs and lows, the joie de vivre to comfort fear and the stand up and fight of a life time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
After a long loooong wait for a new studio album from one of rock's coolest characters, I was delighted to find The Unfairground at my local HMV. Got home, sat back, glass of fine (well decent enough) Bordeaux at hand and started to listen.

Hmmm. First time through, I must confess to mild disappointment, not the least of which was the whole shebang lasting just over half an hour! This wasn't an instant classic like Dr. Dream or Whatevershebrings. A few definitely catchy tunes in there though. Next listen, a day or so later, after work and I found myself foot-tapping and humming along, not to mention spotting some evocative hat-tips to Kevin's earlier work (that IS the craftily twisted riff, semi-reprised from irreversible Neural Damage, isn't it?). By the third listen, I was singing along with gusto (much to my lady's horror). This is definitely a grower! It's going in the car next, where my dulcet tones and enthusiastic steering-wheel tapping will annoy no-one.

Would have liked a bit more - especially one epic track, rather than lots of shorties. They are goodies though. Mr Ayers has matured like far finer wine than I can afford!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2013
My first memories of Kevin Ayers are as a support act to Jimi Hendrix on their first American tour with Ayer's group Soft Machine.
It was so haunting to hear Kevin Ayers sing in his deep low voice the song from Soft Machine's first album "Why Are We Sleeping"
When Kevin came up to the microphone for a sound check he shouted "TESTICLES". Like the Beatles Kevin,Robert Wyatt and Michael Ratledege tempered each other musically.Kevin had a low voice,Robert had a high voice and harmonised together divinely.Michael Ratledege gave their music a real edge.They were a profound life changing experience to see live with their psychedelic light show!
Individually they all made profound music... but like a child that never wants his parents to divorce, I always wanted the original Soft Machine to reform.
There were times when they played together on each others records.My best memory is from the "Joy Of A Toy" LP Kevin's first solo project the track entitled "Stop This train".
Michael Ratledege plays a solo that is a definite keyboard version of pure surrealism.
To be honest with you I stopped listening to his material after the 1970's.
This last material Ayers has written "The Unfairground" would have been a very successful album in the 1970's.
Ayers has remained through out his life a great song smith and singer.Listening to this album the song that stands out as to what Ayers was thinking and feeling is the song "Brainstorm". There is still an element of subdued surrealism in these lyrics although the music is more conventional and accessible to a wider audience. Robert Wyatt's voice is on this record as a sample and listed on the credits as "The WYATTRON". Hugh Hopper is also credited as performing on this record.
In this modern age I don't know if lyrics are listened to so carefully as Ayers would want you to listen to this project.
Kevin Ayers did many great things with his music and poetry in his life. I will continue to digest this record and enjoy all of his great body of work he has left to us all.Rest in Peace Kevin Ayers.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2007
Another collection of beautiful songs with a slightly left-field twist. Just like he's been doing for the past forty years, and not a trace of cynicism after all those years. Wonderfully simple, and simply wonderful, don't miss out.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2007
I approached this release with trepidation. Could it really be 38 years since "Joy of a Toy"? On playing, no such reasons to be worried. Where did the last 38 years go? Sublime, superb and at 34 minutes. .. short! But who cares, 34 minutes of bliss is better than 70 minutes of dross. Buy, play and chill out. Just like a bottle of Mr Ayers' fine plonk, the years have been very kind and worth the wait. More please. . .
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2007
I have been taping most of this off BBC6 in the last few weeks-- that is not to say that I wont be buying it as I already have it on order but the six tracks I have heard are just brilliant! And the rest must be pretty good because the djs playing it like Marc Riley are saying that the whole album is absolutely wonderful. I discovered Kevin Ayers a few years ago when EMI re-issued his first four albums. And I'm already sure that I will love this new album just as much. I am amazed that musicians from some of my favourite bands are on the record. It must have been some session that had Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub playing opposite Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music! And it gets better -- some of those US Elephant Six bands on are it too like Ladybug Transistor and Neutral Milk Hotel. What a mix! Like it said in the NME Kevin Ayers has some "really cool friends". Well that's not surprising since Kevin Ayers pretty much single handedly invented British psychedelic music. Bring on the 3 of September.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2008
Unprolific gentleman rocker Ayers cocks a snook at detractors of his 80's output, bookending eight new songs with re-workings of 'Only Heaven Knows' and 'Run Run Run', highlights of an admittedly fallow period, in his first new album in 15 years. It's successfully valedictory: they, in common with the rest of this slight but elegant work, are at much more at home in the velvety warmth of analogue. 'The Unfairground' is only some 34 minutes in length, but the quality of writing and performance is consistent. Chums and acoloytes such as Teenage Fanclub, Phil Manzanera and Bridget St John pop in with some too-brief cameos (26 musicians are credited in the slipcase) in a rich acoustic construct with mariachi, strings and girl choruses so busy in parts as to boss the star's brown baritone from the mix. Minor carp aside, 'The Unfairground' is a smooth and knowingly-retro ride for an individual writer and performer, back on early form.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2011
This is a nice collection of songs more like Sweet Deceiver than the older works. Very rich and diverse arramgements, every hearing brings new surprises and treasures. Kevin like me has matured and asks himselfs new questions that i share. Lovely. Could grow into five star. Is still growing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2011
As so often happens, this disk comes in a cardboard sleeve that was so thin I first thought Amazon has posted an empty package. The music is definitely a jump back to the golden era of 70s album music with an admixture of real musicians, laid back lyrics and of course Kevin's silk soft voice.

Perhaps to an increasing number of younger music fans this style is now outdated, and unfortunately most of the public has never heard of Kevin. This of course is a great shame, because there is an alternative to music obviously written and performed on a computer.

More of the same? - yes please!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2011
I have always had a very soft spot for Kevin Ayers. I think that his work is neglected and occasionally sublime. I also view him as quintessentially "english", and god knows that is an extremely endangered race, so it is great to hear from him again. This is a coherent piece of work and includes no "avant-garde" type pieces as used to appear on his earlier albums. I would recommend this album and Ayers work in general and hope it gives a significant boost to his pension pot
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