Joy of a Toy is the debut solo album of Kevin Ayers, a founding member of Soft Machine. It's whimsical and unique vision is a clear indication of how Soft Machine might have progressed under Ayers' tenure. He is accompanied on the LP by his Soft Machine colleagues Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge and Hugh Hopper. After a Soft Machine tour of the USA with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Ayers had decided to retire from the music business. Hendrix however, presented Ayers with an acoustic Gibson J-200 guitar on the promise that he continue his songwriting. Ayers repaired to a small London flat where he composed and arranged a whole LP which was then presented to Malcolm Jones' fledgling Harvest label where it was recorded by Peter Jenner for the then exorbitant sum of 4000. Joy features many of Ayers' most enduring songs from "The Lady Rachel" to "Girl on a Swing", the latter still, regularly covered by artists to this day like Candie Payne and The Ladybug Transistor. It was on Joy that Ayers developed his sonorous vocal delivery, an avant-garde song construction and an affection for bizarre instrumentation that would have a deep influence far into the 1970s and indeed the present day. For the recording of Syd Barrett's first solo album-The Madcap Laughs-Soft Machine was brought in to do overdubs for a few of Barrett's tracks. It was during this time, Barrett did guitar for Ayers on his track "Religious Experience", (later titled "Singing a Song in the Morning") this version wasn't released until the 2003 reissue of Joy.