Kevin Ayers has passed away at the age of 68 in the village of Montolieu in the Languedoc-Rossilon region, Southwest France. This village is these days known as a writers and artists' retreat and is one of the book towns of France. To judge from the picture below, it looks to be a excellent location for a quiet and pleasant life with lots of good food and good wine. Here he spent most of his time from the 90s onwards apart from occasional gigs and the recording and release of the "Unfairground" in 2007 with the help of many of the old alumni. The rock life and the muzic bizness never squared well with Kevin Years and nor did England as he preferred to spend his days in reasonable proximity to the Mediterranean.
What sticks with me from the early days was that strange concoction known as the Whole World. They did not last for long and they did not leave many footprints. The only full album was "Shooting at the Moon" and some stayed on for "Whatevershebringswesing" which together with "Joy of a Toy" were the most proggish and the most unpreditable and slightly eccentric records he made. A BBC double cd came out with recordings for various radio programmes 1970-76, extending well beyond the Whole World period. The Whole World are rambunctious in a luvverly way as couod be expected. A gig in the Netherlands with a guest appearance by Bridget StJohn has been posted here The band mixed songs with extended musical freak outs which did not go well with all fans, but it's all truly great.
However, some videos have cropped up, adding to the documentation we have of that period. The two first ones were made for French TV during a tour in 1970 and the final one is slightly later, made for the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972, though, as Kevin Ayers admits, doing it in a studio with no live audience leaves out the ambiance a live gig with proper audience rapport thrives on.
So here is
Kevin Ayers - guitar, bass, vocals
Lol Coxhill - reeds
Mike Oldfield - guitar, bass
David Bedford - keyboards and accordion on May I
Mick Fincher - drums
First, some improvisations, a brief rendition of "Clarence in Wonderland", then into "Why are We Sleeping", reciting the lyrics in French, and finally, "May I" with a fine solo from Lol.
Do try to seek out those videos on Youtube where he recollects his childhood in Malaysia and says he has no intention of returning as it's not possible to retrieve the past. What once was cannot be recreated except within the imagination which is the domain of the artist.
Malaysia of today is a far cry from the Malaysia of the 50s in its pre-independent guise of British Malaya, I would think. Malaysia of today has a unreflective fascination for modernity in all its manifestations (Cyberjaya, anyone?), except for the values that came with it.
Oh, and my moniker kinabalu is a town and a mountain in Sabah province on the island of Borneo (though Penang remains my fave spot in the peninsular part of the country).
He died in his sleep.