- Released: January 26, 2009
- Label: Reel Recordings
The Wire - p.54
"[With] an unheard batch of early 70s demo tapes and home recordings, including extensive spoken commentary and explanations of the song structures....This is essential for any fan of Ayers's music."
- 2.This Song Isn't Called Anything
- 3.Crystal Clear
- 5.Clarence in Oyster Land
- 6.Dreaming Doctor
- 7.What More Can Anyone Say...
The story behind the remarkable performances that make up this collection is simple; sometime during the mid-'70s, Kevin Ayers deposited a pile of tapes at the flat belonging to poetess Lady June, and never picked them up again. Years passed, and the tapes moved on to guitarist Gerry Fitzgerald's storage locker, from whence they were finally retrieved, remastered, and revealed as an Aladdin's cave of demos and sketches that capture Ayers at his idiosyncratic best, strumming his way through songs that may or may not have gone on to become classics of his canon. It isn't always the easiest listen; demos are rarely recorded with any thought of anybody hearing them who isn't directly concerned with the forthcoming recordings, so "Unfinished" is exactly that. But "This Song Isn't Called Anything" is an early, beautiful, draft of "Hymn," while the instrumentals "Crystal Clear" and (some wordless harmonies aside) "Crying" are good enough to have become anything, even if it is disappointing that an album just seven songs short should make room for any vocal-less tracks. There's also an amusing sketch of "Clarence in Oyster Land," combining, of course, two titles familiar from the Shooting at the Moon album, but the main attraction here is an extended demo of songs intended for the Doctor Dream album, complete with spoken instructions for his bandmates to follow, and his hopes for the record's eventual ambience (poignant and slightly sinister). "Some People's...Blues," "Two Goes into Four," and "Irreversible Neural Damage" are among the epics rudely but ruddily formed, while Ayers plays, hums and chats his way through the arrangements he's aiming to create. It's a fascinating process, and a surprisingly intimate one as well, and 20 minutes spent with what the sleeve notes call "Doctor Dream" and "Blues" transport you giddily back to the days when a new Kevin Ayers album was something that you seriously spent your time looking forward to. With this wonderful collection, it feels like those days have come again. ~ Dave Thompson