For a couple of years the second hand record shop in Norwich was pretty much the centre on my retail experience, I wish I could remember the name of the shop, its worth a blue plaque.
My record buying had settled into a pattern that I’ve maintained pretty consistently ever since where I’d found a point in a venn diagram which intersected desirability, availability and affordability. By and large it worked well, it meant I would commit to records I quite liked the look of but were relatively cheap and were for sale at the aforementioned second hand record shop.
The nature of the second record market meant that most of the albums for sale were 5-10 years old. No problem there, it was the golden age of the LP and I was able to pick up gems by the Grateful Dead or Hendrix for a couple of quid.
And so, I came by a copy of Whatevershebringswesing by Kevin Ayers. I wasn’t hugely in the market for a Kevin Ayres LP but I was curious and the price was right. The LP contains what what probably Ayer’s greatest hit,’Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes’ which sounded like Lou Reed might have done had he hailed from Canterbury. It wasn’t a track that was hugely appreciated by the general public. Ayers had been the Bass player in Soft Machine, he wasn’t exactly high profile. On the other hand he had credibility, he could write songs, sang in a baritone voice and was good looking. Over a five year period Ayers drifted slowly from fringe to more accessible thanks to virgin records who wanted to find a way to make records that sold. As is often the case it didn’t work and Ayers didn’t have the work ethic to change things, By the end of the decade he was spending most of his time drinking in Majorca and became increasingly resistant to coming out of his semi retirement.
By ‘Whatevershebringswesing’ Ayers was probably at his peak although that’s a relative term. Its captured in the beautiful languor of the title track, relaxed to the point of comatose it features Robert Wyatt on background vocals. Another musical highpoint is the guitar solo by Mike Oldfield who, at the time, was the touring bassist with Ayers’s band The Whole World.
My summers were as unfocussed as Ayers career. After purchasing the record I went to a favourite pub where I had a few pints before adjourning to a river bank where I had a little sleep in the sun. On the inner sleeve of the album Kevin is seen frolicking in the water with a young lady, I was on my own and kept my trousers on (Ayers is on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction) but I knew where he was coming from.
At the moment I am still selling off what’s left of my vinyl and Whatevershebringswesing is arousing quite a bit of interest, the highest offer so far is £12.50 and I’ve had interest from Holland. It might not seem much but I’ve had to sell for 99p recently so this is the big time for me. What usually happens is I let it go to final auction and sell for a lot less but I need some excitement in my life.