Sunday, January 24, 2010

BLOG TO COMM: Kevin Ayers-ODD DITTIES cassette (Harvest, England)


"Anyway, here are just a few items that have graced my psyche this past week. Maybe you'll be able to memorize enough of this to spout out at parties and bar mitzvahs thus making yourself look less like the dim bulb you most certainly are! Whatever, g'wan and have a ball!"

Kevin Ayers-ODD DITTIES cassette (Harvest, England)

Why would I buy a 1976-vintage cassette tape of an album that I've had on vinyl since 1985 anyway? Pure remembrance of product packaging past, mostly because when I was a youngster I used to have this strange obsession with the way cassette tapes differed from country to country! It was nothing but a childish curiosity on my part like, just what did cassette outer sleeves for certain labels look like in other nations anyway? Por ejemplo Capitol in the USA's cassettes looked different than EMI's did in England, and the German and Australian ones were unique in themselves as well! Ditto for Mercury across the world, though I believe that Island's cassette packaging did not vary world-wide all with all of that pink all over the place! What a crazy mixed up world we live in, and for some reason at a time when I should have been paying attention to my studies and even the rather plain-looking girls of Eastern/Southern European and Irish extraction surrounding me I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHAT CASSETTE PACKAGING WAS LIKE IN OTHER NATIONS!!! And now that I know I kinda feel like Starchie in that MAD spoof bangin' his head on the brick wall in his cell 'bout how Biddy was jumping all over him but he was going nuts for Salonica who didn't give two lumps! AAARRRRGGGGH!!!!!!

But lo and behold, don't this cassette just play so sweetly next to my bedside chair late at night. This is one of two Kevin Ayers' "Harvest Heritage" releases (the other, a twofa of his first two solo albums, might get the BLOG TO COMM treatment when I dig 'em outta the Jurassic stratum) and it's one of those b-side/unreleased take collections that Harvest rushed out at a time when Ayers, back on the label after a brief Island sojurn, was perhaps at the peak of his commercial prowess. Some, especially (or should that be naturally) the earlier material, has plenty of that English experimental bright flash that made those early Eno records so appealing. The later gunch is comparatively toned down and although there are more than a few dudsters to be found (like the times Ayers gets into his South Seas and Mexican ethno-grooves) when he gets good he gets...entertaining like on his Velvets paen "Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes" or the classically-inclined "Jolie Madame." Even when the former Soft Machine bassist sings a French-language version of SHOOTING AT THE MOON's "May I?" ("Puis Je?") you ain't gonna cringe like your better nature always seeme to tell you to!

This one must be a winner because about a decade-and-a-half back I casually mentioned to someone who shall remain nameless that I had the vinyl version and was suddenly bombarded with offers to buy the thing and at a price that I might have agreed to had I been destitute! So it's gotta be the unabashed classic that it is...right???

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