1972 Case File #98.


The Kinks, Everybody’s In Show-Biz

File Between: The Pretty Things and Noël Coward

Comments: The Kinks were instrumental in shaping my understanding of rock — and music in general — history. While I adored their early tuff singles, it was the Village Green/Arthur era that deeply imprinted itself on my young Catholic-Anglophile-leaning-Tory sensibility, and they led me as much backwards into history, through music-hall and vaudeville, as much as they pushed me forward into C86 and indie-pop. Despite that, I’ve mostly ignored their 70s output, trusting the conventional wisdom about Ray Davies progressively disappearing up his own ass until Dave Davies pulled the band back into some kind of commercial stasis with unprepossessing hard rock. I’d only heard (and loved!) “Celluloid Heroes” (a fragile ode in conversation with glam) from this record before. The rest of it is, well, the obvious next step after Muswell Hillbillies, vaguely boogie-oriented burbling about Ray’s idiosyncrasies with an air of novelty music-hall hucksterism. Not bad, perhaps, but very much requiring you to already be on board with the Kinks’ specific brand of nostalgic wittering over roughly-competent playing. The trad-jazz combo that sits in on about half the numbers does a lot of the melodic heavy lifting, and it’s not like I don’t love the sound, but there’s nothing here as sharply observed or crisply edited as the great mid-to-late 60s singles. The second LP, a collection of live pieces from their still-slim post-Pye discography, is even more disposable; they only do “Lola” as a minute-and-change audience singalong.

A Keeper? I mean, it’s still the Kinks, which means I’ll still have time for it, no matter how conflicted I may be about that love later in life.

Vinyl Rip: Supersonic Rocket Ship

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