In honor of the fabulous news that Ray and Dave, may do the Kinks again, I decided to add a Kinks record to my list of favorite music memories. When a band has so many releases like the Kinks, many times it takes years to fully appreciate an album’s strengths. Especially, when time separates the wheat artists from the chaff artists at any moment of release. I cannot say that this is the record that I regard as The Kink’s all time high water mark of artistic expression, but I can say this is the Kinks record I reach for the most. This is one strange record and I think that is what I love about it. It has studio recordings and it has live recordings. It has a sound and a feel that is both very English and very American at the same time. It has that late 1960’s, I am going back to the country feel that everyone who heard The Band’s “Music from Big Pink”, tried to emulate. But it also has the “English” POV that Ray will never be able to drop, no matter how hard he ever tries.
I must also say, this is my fave Dave Davies record as well. He is an all time fighting, guitar singing champ here. Everything he does on this album is right. I never heard him do things so fully in the Kinks after this record. It is a road album, a reflection of the band at that time. From the opening swells of the organ in “Here Comes Yet Another Day”, this is about the Kinks life on the road and how it affects their lives off the road. I love Ray’s writing about insomnia, food, being trapped in a hotel room, or waiting for a show. Only a man of high intelligence can write “No time for reflection, we’re moving in a new direction”. Damn right!
The humor and vocal swapping between Ray and Dave highlights “Hot Potatoes” still makes me laugh, and the rap world should sample Mick’s opening drum pattern. It has my fave La La La chorus, after the Nah Nah Nah’s of “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. I still can’t figure out why a song about no sex, married life and potatoes was not a massive worldwide hit. It is for me though. Dave also kills it on “You Don’t Know My Name”. I love the slide guitar and jaunty rhythm. The band sounds like it is having fun on this record. One of the rare rock and roll flute songs as well.
The weakest song to me is the hippie dippie “Supersonic Rocket Ship” that blathers about the old Marxist cultural scare tactic of over population, which socialists still go on about. I like “Look a Little on the Sunny Side” with Ray’s broad vaudevillian voice and delivery is always fun. The studio side of the record wraps up with the much vaunted “Celluloid Heroes”. It’s one of Ray’s most beautiful and poignant songs about the give and take of humanity in daily life. It is killer and you probably know it a little at least.
The live side of this record is interesting as well. Recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1972, the songs are mostly from the couple of albums before this one. Ray thought that the albums did not capture what he wanted the songs to be so he rerecorded them live. He got some great versions and he was right. They were better than the originals. The brass muscle found on “Skin and Bones”, it rocks and it rolls. Especially, his performance on “Alcohol: from “Muswell Hillbilly’”. This whole album deserves a fresh listen from Kinks fans both new and old. The Kinks were a hell of a live band and I cannot wait to see their last hurrah. Go buy It and thank me later ;o)