When there were record stores I used Kevin Ayers as my main yardstick. I’d walk in, make a bee-line to the A’s, and see if they had a Kevin Ayers section. And if they did, what did they have? I could instantly tell a lot about the depth of their catalog. Next I’d check for Roy Harper. A lot has to do with always being on the lookout for a couple gaps in my collection. A decent stock would have “Joy Of A Toy” as an import.
This was mixed from the original 8 track tapes in 2003 for inclusion on the superb reissue of Kevin Ayer’s 1969 “Joy Of A Toy”. The unissued masters had long vanished. It’s existence known but essentially unheard. I believe this is the only session Syd Barrett played on outside of Pink Floyd and his solo recordings.
Syd was outside Pink Floyd at the time of this session.
From the cd liner:
An Avid enthusiast of Syd Barrett, the wayward ex-Pink Floyd genius. Ayer’s felt Syd’s contribution could enhance his latest composition. On the way to Abbey Road studios, Kevin called into Barrett’s flat and requested his presence on the session. And so it was on November 9th 1969 Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett worked on the first version of “Religious Experience”. Present ealier in the day were Richard Coughlan and Richard Sinclair from Canterbury band Caravan.
After some consideration it was felt that Syd Barrett’s psychedelic guitar contribution was too uncommercial, the track overlong and the decision was made to re-record “Religious Experience”.
They didn’t exactly do that. Instead the rhythm tracks were bounced to another 8 track (pretty much everything but Syd). Kevin did a new vocal, paraphrased some of Syd’s guitar, added The Ladybirds on vocals, etc.
Kevin knew Syd as his former band, The Soft Machine shared a bill with Pink Floyd , and probably a dozen other bands, at an marathon outdoor festival on Ibiza in the summer of 1967.
Kevin Ayers has had a long and interesting career. He is an original, and creative artist. As usual, I tend to go for the earlier stuff. I’m unfamiliar with anything recorded after 1978.
Except his latest, “The Unfairground” (2008), is easily one of his best. Affectionately backed by an amalgam of indie superstars I never heard of, it sounds like it could be a followup to “Joy Of A Toy”, all his wit and charm is intact.
Kevin Ayers is currently living in the south of France, according to his MySpace page.
I just checked out the post and need to include the finished version. Released on a 7″ single as “Singing A Song In The Morning” with “Eleanor’s Cake”(Which Ate Her) from “Joy Of A Toy” on April 19, 1970. They always say Syd had been excised from the final, but that guy on electric guitar sure plays like him. If it’s Kevin, he nailed it.