I didn’t come across this wonderful musician and artist until I was 15 years old and actually won the runner up prize (one of 100 runners up) in a competition to name an album sampler (compilation gatefold album) which were vinyl records back then. I was rewarded with a voucher for a copy of the album I had suggested a name for.
This was “Picnic- A Breath of Fresh Air” and since then I have never looked back. It changed my musical focus at the time
On this album, which is best remembered mostly for the fact that it was the first time ever that Pink Floyds “Embryo” had been put out on any record, there was also the wonderful “Emily’s Cake (Which Ate Her)” by Kevin Ayers. Here was where I also discovered Roy Harper, Edgar Broughton Band, and others and from then on I was a prog-rock chick first and foremost and…. I was totally hooked.
Now albums became my real hard drug of choice. Previously only dabbling with singles, watching (and bopping along to ) “Top of the Pops” when I discovered “The Old Grey Whistle Test”I was all ears – literally!
From then on, when I liked the sound snippet of a band or tune I heard, I would first head off to the record booth (remember them?) to sample other tracks to discover the musicians’ real style and if I loved a minimum of 3 tracks, the album would be purchased with my hard earned cash – which was a paper-round before school in those days!
As a double album “Picnic” was on the Harvest label – remember that one folks? – known best for the progressive music they handled (the Floyd being the most sucessful of their bands).
Wow – Happy days! From time to time, I still listen to all the wonderful stuff that came from that era and whenever I do I wonder why I don’t listen more often. Mind you, there was such a variety then that was pure creative talent.
Don’t get me wrong there still is nowadays but it feels different, more blended, more about the video than the sound often, the genres seem less distinct and often need to be searched out. Now the best place to find them seems to be festivals and internet sites like Myspace and Youtube. It’s probably just my age though.
So today, I did something in memory of all those years that I was reminded of, as a result of hearing the sad news of the demise of a brilliant musician (well I think so and I keep good company with many others in that estimation).
I have “harvested” an album with 81 tracks from iTunes called “Kevin Ayers – The Harvest Years 1969-1974″ and now I am listening to a “Song from the Bottom of a Well”
Gone but never forgotten, the music lives still so Prog rock-on!