Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Ray Davies Puzzle

There's a telling quote from Dave Davies in the March Mojo:"I've always thought there was a conspiracy at work to prevent The Kinks being the top band in the world..". The quote goes on with mention that whenever the Kinks were doing well they would fall flat on their butts.
The Kinks have always been a question mark. No one doubts Ray Davies genius songs of the 60's. They paved the way for more British and singers who wrote about England than anyone but the Beatles. But they've been overlooked forever. Mention the titans of 60's British rock and you get the same answers: Beatles, Stones and the Who. Mention the Kinks and it's a "oh yeah, they were good, too." Ray Davies didn't help the Kinks legacy by releasing a string of duds in the mid-70's, and going all Arena rock in the late 70's. Albums that got them in the stadiums, but are mildly efficient as a whole.
So, what do we have in Ray Davies first studio album. The early press for the album has focused on nothing but his shooting in January 2004. But most of the album was in the can before then. Other People's Lives is a good addition to the Davies canon. It's not the great solo album that I think he has in him. Some of this stuff sounds like unfinished demos. But at its best, it chronicles the life of a grump and a comic all rolled in to one. Davies has been the former for too much of the 80's and early 90's recordings. Let's hope that the followup has more of the latter. But it's nice to see him get back in the Rock press, at the same time as the Stones and McCartney have.
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