"Everybody's in then biz and everybody's a star."
I APPROACHED THE KINKS from ignorance. Not total ignorance but one sufficient enough to foster slight misgivings about writing on them. I for one feel an ethical responsibility to bask in the bosom of my bands, and I cannot bask in Ray Davies' bosom. Nor can you watch the Kinks in concert and appreciate them on a purely performing level. Your cursory familiarity with the hand won't save you here. Davies demands an appreciation that goes back to "All Day and All of the Night" a steady attention to development. Which makes Kinks fans quieter cultists than the fanatics who follow the Grateful Dead, but cultists nonetheless I didn't come into the Kinks until "Lola," and I'm no cultist but I grant myself a healthy appreciation of Ray Davies genius.
The early Kings were a core British invasion band, scoring in '64 and 65 with "You Really Got Me" Tired of Waiting," and till the End of the Day". Davies discovered his social conscience with "Sunny Afternoon and choosing to dwell on that rather than make his fortune took the hand through "End of the Season" and "Waterloo Sunset" among others. Brilliant songs all but never heard or sold the most overt of the lot was Well Respected Man," and it sowed the seeds reaped in Arthur a full length examination of the middle class and the empire. A typical story-growing up, going to war, dying, and finally emigrating to Australia Opportunities are available in all walks of life in Australia.
"Lola vs. Powerman and the Money-go-round" was a scatter shot affair, significant for "Top of the Pops and "Lola," the Kinks's first chart hit in something like three years as well as one of the first-over three minute songs about a transvestite to receive extensive AM airplay.
Davies brought things to a head with Muswell Hillbilly I've admitted his irrepressible Englishness, especially in light of the English rocker's affinity for American styles a practice that started seriously with John Lennon. Maxwell Hillbilly connects the English working class with their American sounterparts, the back woods crackers. The song makes an excellent jumping off point.
For Everybody's in show Biz, Everybody is a Star, is Ray Davies's first long look at America. Thematically, the album combines a look at America from the point of view of the touring rock star, with a look at the America symbolized by Hollywood of the forties. Davies stresses the perpetual motion of the tour throughout the album, on songs like "Motorway," in lines like "I'm a Maximum Consumption, super-grade performer-High powered machine," or "Motorway food is the worst in the world,-You've never eaten food like you've eaten on the Motorway." He falls back on Hollywood for relief, for a perfect world, "Nobody's gonna travel second class-There'll be equality." Thematic confusion reigns as Davies stresses the problems of touring and the perfection of Hollywood while simultaneously reiterating his working class hero status.
Until "Celluloid Heroes." It has none of the Davies whimsy or wit; it is the climax and statement of Everybody's in Show Biz, "I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show." Ray Davies returned to Muswell Hill, working class hero (more legitimate than Lennon could've imagined) wasting the worriless, painless celluloid life, "Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain-And celluloid heroes never really die."
"I came to this position by mere chance."
"CELLULOID HEROES," with "Muswell Hillbillies" and "Lola," is the core of the Kinks concert. Ray Davies realizes in the three songs who he was, what he became, and what he might have been. It colors his performance. He realizes what music made him famous, so he does it, run-through style, to make are it's as familiar as possible. Live Kinks is "Top of the Pops," "Till the End of the Day," "Well-Respected Man," and "Sunny Afternoon." Than he maked his statement.
Davies is steeped in vaudeville. It's possible he give up in English music halls, become Vaudeville infuses his writing. This allows him to sing seriously "Baby Face," and Harry Belafonte`s "Banana Boat Song," us well as spending a good thirty seconds Sunday night draped over John Gosling's piano, sipping seductively from a can of Bud. He has a finely honed sense of showmanship of show bix. So he sends a men with a fields out during intermission, dresses him in white tie, tails and shower clogs, and lets him sing all the roles in what may be a mini-opera, while accompanying himself on the fiddle. After that John Gosling felt flat on his face during the band's entrance.
Ray Davies runs a roadhouse band, an inebriated, often sloppy, occasionally off-key crowd of louts who are proud of their loutishness. So Ray sprays the front rows with beer, during a drunken and therefore mock-puritanical version of "Alcohol," just before reminding us who he is, with "Skin and Bone," about Muswell Hill`s "fist, Bobby Annie;" and who he becomes, with "Yes Really Got Me," and "All Day and All of the Nights."
HEALTHY APPRECIATIONS no longer suffles. A weekend with the Kinks finds me emerging fullblown into fandom. Live Kinks have been called a "juiced Jersey bar band." That they are, But they're also a vehicle for Ray Davies' mad genius. I admire Davies (belatedly I'll admit) for his flagrant Englishnees and an equally flagrant aura of working class. (Davies is from London's Muswell Hill district). I admire his adamant refusal to betray those roots. He and his bend of vagrants rock on. God Save the Kinks.