Friday 11 September 2020

May I?

Tempting as it maybe to chip in with my two penneth about the demise of civilisation all around me, I think I'll stick to writing about music and musicians from the 1970s; which was kind of this blog's modus operandi in the first place. So, hard as it may be - forget Covid. Forget Brexit. Forget Johnson & Cummings. And forget Trump. Yeah, right.

Since returning from a relaxing few days away (my Easter break had been put on ice for six months) I've immersed myself in artists and bands collectively known as the Canterbury Scene. I'm sure many of you know its origins - if not, here's a quick overview. The roster of musicians and artists that came to prominence in this magical period (straddling the late 60s/early 70s) and the albums they churned out was prolific. And like most genres, and indeed sub-genres, there was the good, the bad and the ugly. But, you know what, even the bad and the ugly make for compelling listening. And some of the the stories that came out of 'the scene' are now legendary. For instance, when Robert Wyatt was kicked out of the Soft Machine (his own band), he formed a rival group straight away. He called them Matching Mole - a pun on machine molle - the French translation for Soft Machine.

Which would lead you to think I'd plump for a Matching Mole track today. Well, as my mother used to say, you know what thought did. 

No, instead I've gone for a beautiful song from one of the most influential musicians of all time. And if you don't believe me, this is what rock critic Nick Kent once said about him:

"Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett were the two most important people in British pop music. Everything that came after came from them."

Kevin Ayers - May I? (1970)

Kevin Ayers (1944-2013)


  1. Ah, Mr SDS, who has a few years on me, introduced me to the Canterbury scene stuff some time ago as he had been a fan of Caravan, Hatfield & The North, etc. in his youth, and was recently extolling the virtues of Kevin Ayers too. Seems to me that KA was indeed really special and it is only now really that I fully appreciate his importance as suggested by Nick Kent.
    Have you seen this wonderful video:
    Oh, the dancers :-)

  2. As I'm sure you know, I'm also a long time fan of the Canterbury Scene. I never did catch the marvellous Kevin Ayers in concert, but the current world situation put paid to my scheduled Steve Hillage and Gong gigs this year.

    1. I came to the 'scene' relatively late - I must have been saving it for my dotage! Listening to Ayers you can see where Robyn Hitchcock's been coming from, can't you?

    2. There's certainly a seam of particularly English whimsy that runs through the music of Ayers, Barrett and Hitchcock. See also early Caravan and Robert Wyatt's initial post-Softs adventures.

  3. Gave whatevershebringswesing a go a few years ago was not shaken. But then, as is the way, found myself utterly obsessed with Shooting at the Moon about a year ago. Got a CD copy for the car a couple of weeks ago and now no trip to Sainsbury's is complete without a rollicking rendition of Hat.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Other supermarkets are available. Yes, I know what you mean. Listening to his albums, you get the sense of what it must be like to be part of a very exclusive private members club.

  4. More Kevin Ayers Videos than on the planet in my channel, in this section
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