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Sweet Deceiver

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Subject: 1975 in music, Elton John, Island Records discography
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Sweet Deceiver

Sweet Deceiver
Kevin Ayers
Released March 1975
Recorded 1975; The Manor Studio, Shipton-on-Cherwell, England
Genre Rock
Length 34:53
Label Island
Producer Kevin Ayers & Ollie Halsall
Kevin Ayers chronology

Lady June's Linguistic Leprosy
Sweet Deceiver
Yes We Have No Mañanas (So Get Your Mañanas Today)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Piero Scaruffi (5/10)[2]

Sweet Deceiver is the sixth studio album by Kevin Ayers and his last for Island Records. By 1975, Kevin Ayers had joined the roster of Elton John’s manager and partner John Reid, who put considerable energy into turning him into a mainstream artist, booking him appearances on early morning children's TV shows. Reid’s concept was to market Ayers as a pretty boy rock star and the cover painting he commissioned for Sweet Deceiver demonstrates this to shocking effect.

Ayers, however, was still a maverick musician and the packaging of the LP was alarmingly at odds with its contents which were some of his more poignant recordings. It was little wonder therefore, that critics like the NME’s Nick Kent (a long-time supporter), dismayed by Ayers’ new image, wrote virulent attacks on the LP. Ayers has subsequently stated in interviews that he was “deeply upset” by Kent's reaction to the album, although he failed to notice how delicately the scales of credibility were balanced within the 70s avant garde music scene. Kent commented (NME, Dec 7, 1974) that when he first heard the song “Sweet Deceiver” at a Glasgow Apollo concert, “it rhymed ‘rain’ with ‘pain’ to questionable effect.”

Sweet Deceiver is one of Ayers’ more rock-oriented productions, with the first side featuring the progressive material, while the second was more mainstream. Guitarist, Ollie Halsall was now a key foil for Ayers and his playing on opening the track “Observations” is a clear demonstration of his dexterity. Elton John also joined the sessions, contributing some outstanding piano work to “Circular Letter” and “Toujours Le Voyage”.

However, it is Ayers himself who offers the most accurate critique of the situation in “Guru Banana” where he pointedly satirises his own pop promotion; "Who's the one with the grin on his face / Says he's gonna save the human race / He laughs a lot as he climbs to fame / Now what's his name? / Guru Banana! / That's me and I'll show you the light / I've got the answers and they're all right / 'cause I'm divine and you can be the same / Now what's my name? / Guru Banana!"

Track listing

Side 1

  1. Observations (Ayers)
  2. Guru Banana (Ayers)
  3. City Waltz (Ayers)
  4. Toujours La Voyage (Ayers)

Side 2

  1. Sweet Deceiver (Ayers)
  2. Diminished But Not Finished (Ayers)
  3. Circular Letter (Ayers)
  4. Once Upon An Ocean (Ayers)
  5. Farewell Again (Another Dawn) (Ayers)

2009 reissue

10. Didn't Feel Lonely 'til I Thought of You
11. Observations
12. Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes
13. Interview
14. Farewell Again
  • Tracks 10 to 14 are live recordings taped at The BBC's Paris Theatre in London on 27 March 1975


  • Kevin Ayers / Vocals, fuzz bass, electric and acoustic 12 string guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin
  • Freddie Smith / Drums
  • Ollie Halsall / Lead, acoustic and bass guitar, mandolin, honk piano, vibes, backing vocals on track 8
  • John Altman / Clarinet (Track 2)
  • Fuzzy Samuels / Bass Guitar (8)
  • Elton John / Piano (2,4,7)
  • Jacob Magnusson / Organ, accordion, piano, Clavinet, vocals on track 1
  • Bias Boshell / Piano (5)
  • Chili Charles / Drums (8)
  • Muscle Shoals Horns / Brass (8)
  • The Manor choir / Vocals (3, 8)
  • Tony Wright / Cover art

References & Sources

  • Ayers and Graces by Nick Kent (NME Dec 7, 1974)
  • Despair and Temperence in Maida Vale by Mike Flood Page (Sounds Jan 25, 1975)
  • Cousin Kevin by Hervé Picart (Extra [FR] Apr, 1975)
  • Album Review by Paul Alessandrini (Rock & Folk [FR] Apr, 1975)
  • Soft Centered by Pierre Perrone (The Independent Sep 10, 2007)
  • Original LP sleevenotes

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