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Unfairground

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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The Unfairground
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Audio CD, March 11, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

2007 album from the pioneer of the British Psychedelic scene. On this release, Ayers is accompanied by artists he inspired like Teenage Fanclub, Ladybug Transistor, Candie Payne and Euros Childs. Also features long time musician and close friend Hugh Hopper from Ayers' Soft Machine days.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 11, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Gigantic
  • ASIN: B0013FSVFW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,151 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This album convinces me that Kevin Ayers is a true genius. Simple words wrapped in deceptively simple melodies which tell stories of love and loss and ageing and dealing with it all. A perfect album and it could well be the best thing he's ever done. The only thing missing is Ollie Halsall's guitar.
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Wonderful! After such a long wait, this is a remarkable record. Instantly memorable songs by truly gifted artists: this is among Mr. Ayers finest collections of great music. I got an Ehrwurm (ear worm---when you can't get a song out of your head) on the first hearing of the first song (Only Heaven Knows) that lasted a full week. The last time that happened to me was the song "Scarred for Life" by Slapp Happy (from Ca-Va; also a great record. But of course, I am writing about Kevin Ayers here. Kevin lives up to his fine reputation of classy, bluesy R & B, and the man's voice has not diminished in the least with age. He has become more like a fine wine that only gets better with age. The only sad note is that Ollie Halsall's great guitar no longer plays on this earth. Wine, women, song, and of course, bananas (a banana is on the cover art and hard to find--sorry, no hints!)
So, whether or not you are already a fan, or have never heard him before, buy this disc with complete confidence. Not to brag (!), but I have all of his discs, and ALL of his LP's (still in near mint condition). Let us hope that Kevin Ayers dosen't make us wait another 15 years for his next sublime masterwork.
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I cannot say how relieved I was to finally hear Kevin's follow-up to 1992's "Still Life With Guitar". It is a very organic-sounding record produced with the aid of several talented friends young and old. It hearkens back to the "Whatevershebringswesing" period with colorful arrangements and relatively dry production. "The Unfairground" is probably the best LP Ayers has recorded since "Rainbow Takeaway" in 1978 and stands proudly next to his best work. One hopes that he doesn't need another 15 years to produce another album. A couple of suggestions to those in the Ayers camp: get the 1983 LP "Diamond Jack and the Queen Of Pain" and the 1986 LP "As Close As You Think" released on CD; then, encourage Kevin to re-record the best of those songs ("Howling Man", "Stepping Out", etc.) with the same cast that appeared on "The Unfairground". He actually re-recorded "Only Heaven Knows" from the latter LP for "The Unfairground" with excellent results. This LP is recommended to fans of Kevin, Robert Wyatt, British psychedelia and accessible Progressive Rock.
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The last record for the great Kevin Ayers complete his life . For me it is wonderful since I was in London when he provided some of the most inventive music and lyrics .from joy of a toy and soft machine days to this melodic melancholy last effort
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Format: Audio CD
This is a dangerous album! If you are not familiar with Kevin Ayers' music, it might be easy to get the wrong idea of what his music is about. This certainly is not a good representation of his music. Please read on...

I've listened to all of Kevin's 17 albums, in chronological order. This is his last album, and so it is a sad ending point. Really, if you rated his albums from best to weakest, then put them into three groups, this would be in the bottom group.

Some have pointed out that the album is only 32 minutes long, but the problem is even worse than that. It has two songs previously released, with the better versions on older albums. "Only Heaven Knows" was first released back in 1986 on the album Closer Than You Think. "Run Run Run" was originally released as "Take It Easy" on the strong album Deia Vu. If you want to hear the songs as they should sound, consult those albums. So now this album is now down to 28 minutes of new music.

A big part of the problem with this album - besides the short duration - is the production. The mixing is often weak. As an example, Only Heaven Knows has the drums faint and weak in the background. There are some poor-sounding cheesy Mariachi horns on the song that are dreadful. Veteran/master guitarist Phil Manzanera is supposedly on three songs, but even with listening closely on headphones, I can only barely hear him on one song ("Brainstorm"; for the other two songs he is mixed off the album). I guess the mixing folk didn't want to hear his cool guitar parts. Another problem is musicianship. Although it is great having strings on the album, they end up sounding dreary and gloomy (see "Cold Shoulder"). The drumming on "Unfairground" is pathetically amateuristic.
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