08 October 2004

The Kevin Ayers Acid Test

It's maybe 1987, maybe 1988. 3 AM. I'm 17 years old and lying on my back with a face full of liberty caps and Mysiak's homebrew (polish descent, Marmite consistency, woe-full); waiting for UFOs at the base of the monument at the top of Ham Hill.

Example


I'm trying to smoke a cigarette but the space-time between inhaling and exhaling is eluding me.

Someone puts on Kevin Ayers. We all hate it before we hear it. It's hippie-shit; akin in our minds to the Rick Wakeman or late Pink Floyd. We're into Psychic TV (yes, the irony escaped us), The Shamen, Spacemen 3, Coil, The Butthole Surfers, Acid House. For us, the hippies got everything right but the music; Kevin Ayers and all that shite couldn't begin to describe our acid experiences, which always seemed more about frothing and spinning down pitch-black farm-drain ditches, mad-fast industrial techno and the Nova Police than the peace, love and flowers that the hippies kept trying to push.

I had a large psychedelic mural on my bedroom wall with an upside down CND symbol and the words NUclear W@r NoW written in 2' letters. That'll show them.

No one has the energy to turn it off. Someone half-heartedly mumbles something about Throbbing Gristle. Someone in the far distance is running around the hills yelling about thinking in binary.

And then Irreversible Neural Damage comes on.

Example


Kevin Ayers - Irreversible Neural Damage


It builds slow: repetitive strumming, looping and looping, echoes bursting in at the edges. It's dub-folk but we don't know it yet. The vocals start; slurring, front-masked, multi-tracked, spooky. They seem to fill the air. Kevin sounds like something from the bottom of the well. A girl's voice fades in and out. Everything in my field of vision is waving. Everyone's silent.

Who or what I am escapes me

Every changing minute shapes me

What I get is what I yearn for

Dreams are what I gladly burn for...


Soon, someone will use the word 'dig' with no irony. Later, we'll all buy some Kevin Ayers records and we'll let him in. Later still, I'll get into all kinds of hippie nonsense. I'll buy Gong records and get back into Hawkwind, maybe even Pink Floyd.

Cheers for that then Kev.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

May be yu´ll like this tune too:
http://tofuhaus.antville.org/stories/939553/

I appreciate the four ayers albums on harvest as well, not to forgotten the early soft machine and caravan albums.

with regards

herr k.

mrdantefontana said...

Nice remembrance. I do recognize myself in it. At some time something changes. You open up. It's cool - I dig it!

Spoilt Victorian Child said...

Oh Bollocks...
was going to post Kevin next week....
Well in there Loki.
Great track.
I had the same problem when i first heard him...
almost exactly the same reasons... butties etc...
but soon came to love him (early albums anyway)
Along with Joy of a Toy etc... The Best of Kevin Ayers is one of my most cherished albums of his...
Bloody Brilliant Stuff...

Simon
X

kek-w said...

And I love the 'radio' voice at the end of side two where Kevin Ayers sings: "Watch out for Doctor Dream, sweet child..." It's kinda spooky-sounding. And "Day by Day" ("night by night: gonna learn how ta love ya, babe, 'til I get it right...") is deliciously cold, white-boy hippy funk.

And what is it about Ham Hill and drugs? Walked there from Yeovil with Dom on acid once. Saw a large white horse-dog. And, oh yes, that was the night that Yeovil switched itself off.

Glad it wasn't just us. Guess it was our generation's equivalent to National Service: take drugs and go to Ham Hill. Beautiful post, man, just beautiful.

johneffay said...

Good one. I remember getting loads of gip off my TOPY-initiated industrial buddies over all the Kevin Ayers and Gong albums I owned. Can't say any of them ever had a moment of revelation where they revised their opinions though.

We went to see Kevin Ayers in May: It was excellent, but it's a long time since I've been one of the youngest members of the audience at a gig...

kek-w said...

Yeah, saw he was touring earlier in the year, but only spotted he was playing Exeter a week after he played. Wouldn't've minded checking him out...

the cap'n said...

I was probably around 17 years old myself when I first got into Kevin Ayers,but unfortunately,he's one of those people I've not really managed to get anyone else into (yet).I was always impressed with his ability to throw the word 'banana' into so many songs.

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