Album: Kevin Ayers, Songs for Insane Times: Anthology 1969-1980 (Harvest)

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The Independent Culture

Until his mid-Seventies relocation to the South of France, Kevin Ayers was a rock equivalent of Zelig, witness to many an iconic counter-cultural event.

As bassist in The Soft Machine, he toured America supporting Jimi Hendrix; as a solo artist, he gave Mike Oldfield his first break; and when flower-power slipped seamily into glam-rock, Kevin was there playing a landmark show alongside John Cale, Brian Eno and Nico. His credentials, then, were never in doubt. However, his own solo output didn't quite live up to expectations, save for a few gems such as "Song From the Bottom of a Well", "Shouting in a Bucket Blues" and "Caribbean Moon". All are included in this four-disc retrospective, its three discs of studio material topped up with a live show from 1973.

Personally, I'd have whittled down the material following 1974's The Confessions of Dr Dream, in favour of some (any!) representation from his Soft Machine years, but you can't have everything.

Pick of the album:'Shouting in a Bucket Blues', 'Song From the Bottom of a Well', 'Caribbean Moon'