Saturday, April 20, 2019


And so I move, seamlessly, from one Soft Machine alumnus to another, from Robert Wyatt to Kevin Ayers, together the rhythm section in the original line-up. Kevin is no longer with us, my buddy J.David penning some words at the time of his demise, but he is a fella that gave me great teenaged pleasure, with his uber-cool image, his prog credentials, so important to me at that time, but mainly, through his gloriously quirky and quixotic songs, often exhilaratingly bonkers, as indeed is this. Duck call percussion?

I came to Ayers a little behind the loop, via the teenage prodigy he had earlier hired on bass for his band, The Whole Wide World, one Mike Oldfield. Soft Machine were too clever and a bit old for me, but Tubular Bells was a sensation for me, upon its 1973 release, introducing me to any number of connections, as I perused the back story and looked at the names of his address book, mustered together for the live performances. Whilst I don't think Ayers was involved in the latter, I was particularly taken with his peculiarly english style of singing, espousing the usual transatlantic twang, then and now still so prevalent. It reminded me of another very english vocalist, early Pink Floyd focal piece and front man, Syd Barrett, exemplarised in this later solo track.

What I didn't know was that 'O Wot a Dream' was actually about Barrett, and that, after Barrett's lysergic exit from Pink Floyd, the two actually performed together on the above clip, 'Singing a Song in the Morning (Religious Experience)', the compelling guitar calisthenic being performed by Barrett, I have to say somewhat against the myth around his having entirely lost it. Still, the record company still saw fit to cut the end coda from the original cut, it taking until a re-release for it to see light of day. In this brief interview, a looking seriously out of it Ayers mentions the relationship at the very end of the clip, about 5.25.

As arguably an ill-fitting tribute to both, here is a poor quality recording of a less than 100% Ayers performing 'O Wot a Dream' at a 2007 Syd Barrett memorial concert. I think I probably prefer the duck call on the studio version to the jaw's harp. Finally, in case any might wonder, why the spelling, wy the wot, if you will? Personally I think this just adds to the overall anglocentricism of the song, but, who knows, maybe it was to avoid any confusion with this.

Wy not?

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