2008 four CD anthology that covers Ayers' musical career from 1969 to 1980; a period most fans and critics deem his best. Ayers remains one of Rock's oddest enigmas. He makes ordinary subjects extraordinary with his rich low vocals and inventive wordplay. He projects the image of a Prog-Rock beach bum writing about life's absurdities with a celebratory, relaxed detachment, yet he is also one of Prog- Rock's more important innovators, helping to launch the Soft Machine, and working with noted progressive musicians Mike Oldfield, Lol Coxhill, and Steve Hillage. Ayers' solo material reflected a Folksier, lazier, and gentler turn than Soft Machine. He was often compared to Syd Barrett, but without the madness and is never less than enjoyable and original, Discs One to Three contain 49 hits, album tracks and more while Disc Four was recorded at The Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 25th May 1973.
This double-CD contains three programs Ayers broadcast on the BBC from 1972 to 1976. A January 6, 1972 concert at the Paris Theatre in London takes up all of disc one, which is certainly the better half of this package, as it was almost a reunion of the Kevin Ayers & the Whole World lineup that had done Shooting at the Moon in 1970. Whole World-ers Mike Oldfield (guitar), Lol Coxhill (sax), and David Bedford (keyboards) are on hand to support Ayers, along with drummer Dave Dufort (who was not on Shooting at the Moon). Some singing accompanies the band, and orchestral arrangements also accent their playing on six of the nine songs.
The irrepressible Dave Douglas delivers another installment in the life of the Tiny Bell Trio, which features his own inimitable trumpet style, but the rhythmic invention of Jim Black on drums, and Brad Shepik's emotionally vulnerable yet volatile guitar playing. Where previous Tiny Bell outings have focused on the possibilities for texture, dynamic, and atmospheric possibilities within a given compositional structure, Songs for Wandering Souls places its eye firmly on group execution this set of compositions – all but two of which are by Douglas, the others arranged by him especially for this of his many groups. The disc opens with "Sam Hill," a beautiful "song," where the lead "call" voice is carried by Douglas, but its "response" is in the lyrical flow of Shepik's string interplay.