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on 1 July 2009
Kevin Ayers is one of thoe artists that we've all heard of somewhere in the dark and often murky past and like me you've probably never actually heard much if anything of his stuff - which upon finding this set is a major crime against music

Kevin ayers found initial fame as a member of the wilde flowers and latterly Soft Machine - but then decided to avoid touring and go his own way

This set draws on his 11 Harvest Lp's (some of which have been remastered and expanded on CD)

This is great music - progressive meets lounge with wierdness as an added bonus - he has a very interesting Baritone (i.e. - Deep) voice and a great band with him - usually Ollie Hassall or Andy Summers or Steve Hillage

The last CD is a corker - an unreleased show from the Royal Festival Hall in 1973 with some great songs and some good jamming / improvisation

Even the stuff from the dodgier "Island" albums stands up well

One things for sure - you'll probably want to get some more of his earlier vstuff after hearing this, I'm certainly going too

This is a great set and worthy of investment - if you like Progressive rock then you'll like this - its not like ELP / Yes or Genesis more like Syd Barrat's stuff

Get it whilst you can
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on 19 December 2008
This is an extremely well assembled collection of recordings from one of music's true unique greats. Ayers is a new discovery of mine brought about by his wonderful new album The Unfairground and his first from '69 the brilliantly skewed Joy Of A Toy. Ayers is being discovered by a new generation and this collection is certainly aimed at us as I am sure that most people who have been fans for a long time would have most of the original albums that this collection draws upon. But here's the thing..for us newbies this is a great way to get started and for established fans this is a great way for them to introduce their hero to others (and support the artist in a way that home made compilations do not, keeping in mind that supporting artists is important).
Songs for Insane Times no doubt omits some tracks that fans might have wanted to be included, but that is testimony to Ayers' genius rather than any failing on the part of the compiler. I have played through this entire collection many many times now and have not hit skip once.
The live concert is extremely good. I read an account of this particular concert somewhere which describes a point when a bright light was flashed at the audience who once their eyes had adjusted back were surprised to see the stage filled with dancing trees and all sorts. That sort of magic comes through on the recordings. The arrangement for 'why are we sleeping' must I am sure served as a template for the quiet,loud, quiet of the Pixies.
Kevin Ayers, like the true maverick he is, eschewed fame and publicity. If he had 'gone for it' I am certain he would be a household name as this collection clearly demonstrates.
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Compiler Mark Powell set himself an almost impossible task in trying to create a Kevin Ayers collection that would appeal to fans, old and new, and to the curious alike. What to leave out that old fans will already posses - what to include for new fans and to attract the curious?

"Songs for Insane Times" is a good stab - but is neither complete nor comprehensive - but if you can pick it up from one of Amazons sellers for around a tenner then go for it! It is loving compiled with a good selection of tracks to capture the imagination of the curious and a previously unreleased live set from 1973 which is worth the price for old fans. It also includes a comprehensive booklet.

Herne Bay's Kevin Ayers was one of the originators of what became known as the "Canterbury Scene" and those just discovering his work will be surprised and amazed at just how prolific and influential he was, although he kept a low profile and shunned fame throughout most of his career. A little known fact is that Kevin's father was Rowan Ayers - a BBC TV producer and an interesting character in his own right; check him out on Wikipedia!

This set is a couple of years old now and some of the other reviewers mention some of Kevin's albums which were unavailable at the time of their reviews - some of these are now available once again and Amazon has a good selection available.............check them out!

This collection is a good place to start and although not everyone will be pleased with it, or would have done it differently themselves, I will give it five stars at the price I paid through "all your music".
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on 24 November 2011
No sé como empezar esta opinión. Estoy nuevamente abrumado ante esta magnífica e inteligente colección de temas, algo más que una simple recopilación al uso, que repasan los primeros once años de la carrera en solitario de Kevin Ayers, incluyendo un soberbio directo en el Queen Elizabeth Hall de 1973. Oh! Wot a dream.

Quién es Kevin Ayers? Que música hizo? Difícil de explicar en pocas palabras pero decir que participó de la primera fase psicodélica de Soft Machine y luego hizo una carrera en solitario mezclando rock, pop, cabaret inglés, psicofolk y una preciosa voz de barítono creando piezas inclasificables. Lo que no pudo hacer Syd Barrett. Whatevershebrinswesing.

El album de 4 cds no es una caja sino una de esas jewel cases cuadruples gorditas y transparentes con fotografias en el interior y viene acompañado de un folleto en inglés de 20 páginas a todo color, aunque lo que domina es siempre el amarillo "Harvest", con extensa documentación y más fotos. Temas remasterizados entre 2003 y 2008 con un buen sonido. Muchos temas tienen una entradilla con su procedencia, versión, outake o invitado como en el caso de "Religious Experience": take 103 featuring Syd Barrett - Recorded at Abbey Road Studios on 28 november 1969. Thank You Very Much.

No tiene desperdicio. Recomendado con 6 estrellas por lo menos. May I?
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As a compilation of 'the best' of Kevin Ayers work it's not bad and a very good start point for the first 11 years what's missing is recordings from the other 28 years.
The pick of songs from the first 11 is wonderful, how can you go wrong the Syd Barrett version of 'singing a song' known as 'religious Experience' should attract Pink Floyd fans who have not already purchased the wonderful first album 'Joy of a Toy'. For the more serious Kevin Collectors the attraction of Live show from 1974 with radically different version of favourites 'we did it again' and 'why are we sleeping', missing some excellent songs always subjective but 'Lunatics Lament' from 'Shouting at the Moon' is a big favourite of mine with its massive Mike Oldfield Guitar solo.
Something for all, but where are those later Kevin Ayers albums on Harvest a proper re-master of 'Yes we have No Mananas' 'Rainbow takeaway' and 'That's what you get babe' would be most welcome.
A great but flawed box set of Kevin Ayers work.
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on 5 January 2012
Once that exploration and fun is over in music, as it happens today, we have to look back and find surprises like this one.
This collection is FULL of imaginative and haunting songs from a unique artist.
If you need to find a special gift for a special person, this is it!
Want more? Well, there's a fourth CD with a concert!!
I hope one day they release another compilation covering the rest of his career.
In the top 3 of my music collection.
No doubt.

You want a coda for this?
The Unfairground
Enjoyment assured.
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on 1 January 2015
A Christmas pressie from my Mrs - an excellent addition to my Kevin Ayers collection and a gret compilation of this sadly missed artist's works. The live disc from 1973 was particularly appreciated as it has not been available elsewhere. I was very lucky to have seen Kevin live a number of times - he was a great musical hero of mine and this collection has reminded me why. Highly recommended
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on 22 August 2008
Any Kevin Ayers fan willing to spend £26 would already have these albums (I'm not that bothered about the live set). What EMI should be doing, is releasing the last three albums K.A. recorded for them, as they are now deleted & going for a lot of money on Amazon Marketplace. Anyone new to (the great) Kevin Ayers should buy EMIs first single disc compilation, it's very good, & under a fiver!
And could someone please release "Diamond Jack & The Queen Of Pain", it's far from Ayers best album, but I like it, & it's the only Kevin Ayers LP still not out on CD yet.
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on 19 October 2013
Love the songs Kevin Ayers has a great and unique voice. If you are into 70,s music this is a must have album RIP KA.
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