Rainbow Takeaway/That's What You Get Babe
The two albums packaged in this BGO two-fer, 1978's Rainbow Takeaway and 1980's That's What You Get Babe, reflect the eccentric Kevin Ayers' rather blatant attempts to "go commercial," though the results in both cases were somewhat disquieting at the time. In fact, given Ayers' predilection for the genuine strangeness and the uncompromising music found on his earlier records, he'd lost most of the audience he'd built for himself with these recordings; they represented a rather unfocused period for him that would not end until 1988's beautiful Falling Up. That said, it is quite arguable that in the 21st century, both albums, though uneven, come across better than they did when they were released. Despite the considerable studio firepower on both discs, their proceedings are, for the most part, extremely laid-back and full of nocturnal-sounding arrangements. The prime difference between these albums is that while Ayers and co-producer Anthony Moore knew how to employ the restraint of all these players on the former album and still get plenty of inventive work, when Ayers took the producer's solely on the latter album, his obsession with Hans Zimmer and his Prophet synthesizer dominate throughout and leave the great subtlety of players like guitarist Ollie Halsall, bassist Mo Harris, pianist Graham Preskett, and percussionist Roy Jones in the dust. That said, the songwriting on the album is quite inspired; but Ayers' dry, quirky baritone combined with the production schmaltz was never going to resonate with audiences in the post-disco, new wave era. Stand-out tracks on the reissue include the title tracks from both records, the former album's "Strange Song" and "Hat Song," and the latter's "You Can Never Outrun Your Heart" and the crooner "Where Do the Stars End." This set is not recommended for novitiate Ayers listeners, but for those who've digested the earlier material (Whatevershebringswesing, Joy of a Toy, Bananamour, etc.) and want to go deeper.