Thursday, March 31, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: USED STORE FIND: THE KINKS LIVE
Every once and awhile I'll take a quick break from reviewing new discs, and mention a new find I've picked up at a used music store. That just happens to be my favourite pastime in the world, one that many music fans enjoy, so why not? I'll write about hard-to-find pieces that pop up for a paltry sum.
This little number is a live disc from the latter-day Kinks, a 1988 tour souvenir. By this point, they were pretty much the Davies brothers with hired hands, still doing well on the road, but struggling to remain relevant after 25 years. It's a basic tour document, plus the addition of one studio track, The Road, which tells the tale of the band playing live, from the start of their career until then. It's Ray Davies-by-numbers biography, and if he hadn't written similar songs a number of times before, it would be justifiably famous as a career statement. By this time though, we were used to Ray looking back with irony.
The other 11 tracks present a unique view of the Hall of Fame band, as the set list is taken almost completely from the 80's. There's no Lola, You Really Got Me, Victoria, none of the classics aside from the lesser Apeman. Instead, the recent hit Come Dancing is featured along with some popular album cuts, including Art Lover and Destroyer. The set was taped on tour in the U.S., where The Kinks were still filling hockey rinks with their MTV hits, and many of those folks were more familiar with this version of the group than the eloquent British songwriter of The Village Green Preservation Society. Some of the new material here is basic arena rock, some of the worst music of their career, such as Think Visual. But Ray still had some later gems, including the hilarious Give The People What They Want. Listening to him describe the murder-porn excitement of people viewing the tape of President Kennedy's assassination over and over again, and singing that to cheering American audiences is a classic Kinks moment: "Hey ma, there goes a piece of the President's brain!".
This disc has been deleted for several years now, and was a horrible seller at the time. It's not exactly a highly-sought treasure either, but it's not bad, especially as a look at that decade of touring. It's relatively easy to score second-hand with a little digging, and I just picked my copy up for $8.57.