Soft Machine Founder and Living Legend Kevin Ayers Returns with a Fanclub of Ladybugs from Helsinki

Many musicians try to make a go in this absurd industry, solely to savor that delicious power that comes with having someone on the payroll whose primary role is to pick the yellow M&Ms out of the rider bowl with their asscheeks or the satisfaction that comes with trying to break your groupie “hour plow” record nightly. Don’t get me wrong, we love hearing about it, but sometimes it makes us feel a whole lot hollow inside. A few folk have an altogether more refreshing slant on making music. Kevin Ayers, for example, seems to have it all figured out. After running ramshot over listeners’ expectations early in his career with a number of groundbreaking critic’s faves (Soft Machine, Wilde’s Flowers), he realized that it is decidedly better to fade away and rust rather than to burn. Ayers has spent the last few decades playing the nomad, jamming and recording with friends and admirers, and famously, never taking himself too seriously.

Celebrated among the unconventionals for his influential work with Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt in Soft Machine for a right-smart spell, Ayers has more recently been rightfully given his dues by the wicker men and ladies fair of the psychedelic pastoral scene, mostly because his imaginative late-1960s/early-1970s solo albums, which have been revisited through the power of the reissue. As is increasingly the case, the piper has united with some of his rats to record a new album, due on LO-MAX Records September 3. The Unfairground, Ayers’ first album in 15-odd years, was recorded in pieces in New York, Tucson, Glasgow, and London by Gary Olson, Peter Henderson, and Ayers himself, and is chockablock with impressive collaborators. Here is the full supporting cast and songlist for the album:

Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor), Jeff Baron (Ladybug Transistor), Heather McIntosh (Ladybug Transistor, etc.), San Fadyl (Ladybug Transistor), Joe McGinty (keyboard wizard, Baby Steps), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Francis MacDonald (Teenage Fanclub), Euros Childs (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci), Bill Wells (UK avant-jazz great), Kellie Sutherland (Architecture in Helsinki), Tara Shackell (Architecture in Helsinki), Isobel Knowles (Architecture in Helsinki), Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Gus Franklin (Architecture in Helsinki), Frank Reader (Trashcan Sinatras), Robbie McIntosh (guitar hero), Candie Payne (Liverpool’s finest songbird), Robert Wyatt (Robert Wyatt), Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine), Graham Henderson (frequent Ayers sidekick), Julian Koster (Neutral Milk Hotel, etc.), Daisy Martey (Noonday Underground, Morcheeba), Bridget St. John (husky-voiced psych-folk legend), Dave McGowan (Isobel Campbell, Teenage Fanclub).

1. Wide Awake
2. Cold Shoulder
3. Walk on Water
4. Friends & Strangers
5. Brainstorm
6. Unfairground
7. Baby Come Home
8. Shine a Light
9. Run Run Run
10. Only Heaven Knows

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