Pop Culture Gadabout
Thursday, April 06, 2006
      ( 4/06/2006 10:57:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"THE LITTLE BIT THAT WAS IS ALL THAT WE HAD" – Learning that Ray Davies, erstwhile leader of the Kinks, was finally putting out his first elpee of original solo material, lo, these many years after his band's dissolution spurred some heavy mixed emotions from this longtime fan. The lads' final albums were not, let's be charitable, the sound of a band or a composer working at the peak of their powers. It seemed pretty clear Ray'd run out of things to say with his band, which had grown rather complacent with its arena rock stance. Perhaps it was best to just remember Raymond Douglas Davies in those young and innocent days of sunny afternoons and village greens, of splendorous Britpop that grabbed from everywhere and sent it back to you all smartly polished.

Well, I've been listening to Other People's Lives (V2) for a month now, and all I can say is, "To hell with nostalgic melancholy!" Lives is the best release that Ray's affixed his name to in decades, and if the guy never releases another disc in his lifetime, it won't matter. It's a magnificent piece of autumnal rock 'n' pop.

In timbre, the album goes back to my favorite period of Davies' Kinkswork: the willfully eclectic era of character-driven tunes that gave us the great Face to Face, Something Else, Village Green Preservation Society trifecta. Moving to the U.S. several years ago would seem to've renewed Davies' far-reaching love of differing popular music styles: there are plenty of soulful flourishes (check the Stax-y horns on "Thanksgiving Day," the Motown-ish bassline on "Run Away from Time") on this disc, something that would've been beyond the reach of his earlier band, while the return of Latin rhythms that once would've been confined to the periodic bossa nova rip is also welcome. (Sweet use of flamenco guitar on the title song.) Davies' band of hard-rock sessioneers is generally up to his demands, though on more than occasion, I still found myself missing brother Dave Davies' rave-up guitarwork, which could've, for instance, pushed the Credence-y countrified "The Getaway (Lonesome Train)" into pure cow punkery once the song breaks free. Love the "Lola"-esque acoustic guitar slam Ray uses to open "Is There Life After Breakfast?" though.

Of course, with Davies, a big part of the show remains his lyrics: arch observations (as in the obligatorily music halled "Next Door Neighbor"), dramatic monologues ("All She Wrote," wherein a dazed lover reads an accusatory Dear John letter that turns into something darker) and generalized admonishments to Buck up, Laddy, it ain't no-how permanent ("Breakfast"). Ray being Ray, he still can't resist shoe-horning a nattering lamentation about the loss of good old-fashioned standards ("Stand Up Comic") into the proceedings. But it's the only misstep in a set that also includes more effectively sardonic takes on tabloid journalism and tourism. More often, Davies' view of modern life's travails is ruefully experienced; though he's singing about "characters," for the first time in ages, you can feel the songwriter inhabiting these other people's skins. It's a gift that I'd long feared the guy had lost after years of rock band living. Turns out all he needed to rediscover it was to do a walkabout in the U.S. of A. all by his lonesome . . .
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter