THE KINKS

"God save the village green"


REVIEWS:

- THE EP COLLECTION

- KONTROVERSY

- FACE TO FACE

- SOMETHING ELSE

- LIVE AT KELVIN HALL

- THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY

- ARTHUR OR THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE

- LOLA VS. POWERRRMAN AND THE MONEYGOROUND (PART1)

- PERCY

- MUSWELL HILLBILLIES

- EVERYBODY'S IN SHOWBIZ

- PRESERVATION, acts 1 & 2

- SOAP OPERA

- SCHOOLBOYS IN DISGRACE

- SLEEPWALKER

- MISFITS

- ONE FOOR THE ROAD

- GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

- STATE OF CONFUSION

- WORD OF MOUTH

- LOST AND FOUND

- PHOBIA

- LIVE AT BBC

- TO THE BONE


INTRODUCTION by Sergey Zhilkin

The most funny thing about Kinks is that almost everyone heard and liked their hits but not many of these people actually know that these songs belong to Kinks' fame. This is unfair, of course. And "unfair" is the word about Kinks - they only had success when they created something, which they didn't like themselves much (with minor exception of Face to face and Muswell hillbillies). For example filler filled records "Kinks" or "Give the people what they want" (yeah, indeed) sold well while such masterpieces like "VGPS" and "Arthur" went by unnoticed. In fact, the fame for these classic records comes to Kinks only now (no kidding). I'm a big fan of Kinks, of course, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna give high ratings to every record they released - I realise that band had many flaws and maybe they had more flaws than good points so let's discuss the bad sides of Kinks, the good ones you'll find in my reviews.

First of all, Ray is the most famous ripoffing artist in the world. He ripoffed Stones, Beatles, Who and even himself as well as blues and jazz fathers. In fact, I'm not against ripoffing - after all, Ray never ripoffed a bad song, and I better go and listen to good stolen song than bad but self written one. So this isn't much of a flaw - I call it special feature, hehe. The main problem, however, is in Ray's mind. He is the only artist who had more than ten concept albums in a row. That's alright if you can make every album great or at least enjoyable but when the concept overshadows the musical filling ("Preservation"'s case) or when the concept is so feeble, I can't even stand it ("Schoolboys in disgrace"). Yeah, the years of these rock operas were rather hard for band (it nearly got ruined) cause Ray had taken the full control of band in his hands - you won't find any Dave's solos or songs on these albums. And of course, nobody bought RCA records (except for "Muswell hillbillies"). Thus, Ray just had to make a comeback with non concept Arista albums which range from good to very good but I can't name you any really stunning song from past 1971 period - almost everything they recorded was pretty predictable. Being predictable isn't bad, of course, but you know what I mean. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to lay my hands on some albums of their post "Word of mouth" epoch so I can't judge it myself but this period is usually despised.

Anyway, read the reviews, I really tried to sum it up well. Oh, and here's an obligatory line-up:

Ray Davies - motor of the band - songwriting, good acoustic guitar and piano player, lead vocals.

Dave Davies - lead guitarist, occasional lead vocals and songwriting.

Pete Quafie (till 1969)/John Dalton (till 1977)/ Andy Pyle - average bass players

Mick Avory (till 1984)/Bob Henrit - skilled drummers. Henrit and Dalton were a good pair since they worked together in Argent before Kinks.

Some keyboards and brass players were added during the band's life but that's not very essential - they could be replaced by session men.


EP COLLECTION, 1964-1968


BEST SONG: screw it
WORST SONG: screw it
OVERALL RATING: 8.5*
Compilation that will make you rush and buy every early Kinks album... BE CAREFUL!!!

Written by Sergey Zhilkin


So as you might have guessed, I'm one of these disgusting people who think early Kinks are singles band. Well, it's not quite true but speaking in black/white terms that's my general opinion. Actually, I tried to write a review about their debut album but the whole thing resulted in a review of two songs - I really couldn't write more, that's why I used this dirty trick and review a compilation. I'm not quite sure whether it's a EP compilation or singles one cause there's only one song from 68 year ("Village green") and I really doubt that there was a EP consisting of only one
song - this looks more like single but, as I already said before, screw it. I don't care about it, I just think you should buy this thing instead of first two studio albums. Why? Well, simply because it contains the cream of the cream that can actually make you go and buy "Kinks" and "Kinda Kinks" but please, stop here. As far as I know, most of people who read this pointless review have opportunity to buy CDs at $10 price and I think this is a real crime to sell 80% filled with simple teenage crap records at such price.

Anyway, this two CD set contains much material from 64 and 65 years but also you can find EPs introducing "Face to face" and "Something Else" albums so those who want to hear compilation covering early mid 60s are welcome, that's for sure. See, it has "Sunny afternoon", "Party line", "Rosie won't you please come home", "Dead end street", "Dandy", "I'm not like everybody else", "Session man" and "Big black smoke" make the best half of "Face to face" while "Death of the clown", "David Watts", "Waterloo sunset", "Situation vacant", "Lazy old sun", "Two sisters", "Suzannah's still alive", "Funny face" and "Love me till the sun shines" are the same to "Something else". Also there're such cuts from
"Kontraversy" as "Where have all the good times gone", "You can't win", "What's in store for me" and "Till the end of the day". Every one of these songs are discussed below, so let's concentrate on two first years. Surely, there's "You really got" me, a simple two-chord song that strikes you with it's aggressive and sexy arrangement. It sounds hard for 60s - it's a real wonder how Dave managed to reach such sound's shape (some stories say he cut off half of amp's dynamic). The song became a credit card and was performed at every show, I guess. Also it gave a start to its clones like "All day and all of the night". In fact, I liked it more from the first listen than "You really got me" but it didn't pass the test of time at least for me - I like it still, though. Anyway, there are more songs from that epoch which show that Ray was experimenting with harmonica and thank God he gave it up after realizing he sounded like typical mod/rock band. Although, these numbers are not atrocious - I can easily stand "I took my baby home", "Got love if you want it" (better go and get Who's version called "I'm a face") and others. Plus, "Dedicated follower of fashion",
specially written to put down the mods, I suppose, is kinda funny. 
Yeah, there're also obligatory covers of "oldies" - "Louie, Louie", "Beautiful Deliah", "Too much monkey business", "Long tall shorty" and "Long tall Sally" all made it here. Two of them are sung by young Dave and Lord, does he have a wheeny voice! More, he doesn't hit right notes! Though, I can't help but admit that this off-key singing helps "Beautiful Deliah" to become good song. No, please, don't think I'm a masochist, I just like the raw sounding songs full of fun, and "Beautiful Deliah" surely is one of them. "Too much monkey business" is even better - the very first seconds hit your
ears with wonderful brother's duet, who speak the intro lyrics sharply and fast - you gonna like it. "Louie, Louie" is a good cover, too - I like the way Ray chants "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeeeaah". The rest of 64 set is a long list of songs which are not bad but not good either, winning your attention only because being surrounded by good tracks. In fact, first album is flooded by these very mediocre songs.

Year of 65 delivers noticeable changes in the songwriting skills - you'll be thrilled by "Well respected man", the first social comment song written by Kinks. Also there's first two psychedelic songs ever called "See my friends" and "Tired of waiting for you". You may disagree, of course, that's why I ask you to go and relisten these songs in order to refresh your memory. Then you'll dig tuneful "Set me free" with improving from song to song Ray's voice. If you have "Kontraversy", you know the wonderful classic "Where have all the good times gone" and rhythmical "Till the end of the day". "I need you" belongs to one-good-hook-that-saves-the-day-and- nothing-more songs that can't be considered filler because of that hook but
the guys are surely testing my nerves - how many a lil' better than average songs can you write, Ray? Well, I don't know how many but this collection demonstrates at least three - "Never met a girl like you before", "Don't you fret" and "Wait till the summer comes along". And other songs are hits from 66-67 epoch, you gonna like it, of course. One of them is blasting gem "Sitting on my sofa" that is available only here (at least I don't have it on any bonus packed albums), which could be even better if Ray would have sung "So far, sitting on my sofa". Oh, and the presence of only one 1968 song "Village green" is still a big mystery to me.

Missing some hits? For sure! How can you live without "I'm on the island" and "Something's better beginning", for Chrissake? Too bad these songs weren't on EPs.

Overall, 52 songs from three years that capture Ray turning from a "one-hit- wonder" rocker into a talented young britpop star. A very good compilation, containing average boring songs only because it was supposed to handle all the early "crap".

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KONTROVERSY, 1965


Overall Rating: 7.5*
Best Song: Where have all the good times gone
Worst Song: "Ring the bells" is rather dull

A minor classic for year of 1965. Not bad, really.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Oh, so here Ray starts to improve his writing skills and you can't help admitting it. Finally, the level of filler becomes tolerable and even less than the level of good songs, I dare say. The typical thing about Kinks filler is that it isn't atrocious or ultra bad - it's just dull. Here, for example, we face some dull ballads like "I am free", "Ring the bells", "The world keeps going round" and pseudo rockers like "Gotta get the first plane home", "When I see that girl of mine". But please don't get me wrong - as I said before, none of them is bad, some have hooks (although not very impressive) so that helps passing time. On the other hand, I can't really blame poor Ray - after all, he had a contract with Pye, and if 1965 year passed without Kinks' album, people would simply think that band was dead. Plus, don't forget that early Kinks are singles band and you can simply go and buy 2CD EP collection which has all best songs from that album, you won't miss much fun, I promise.

The opener this time is a cover - "Milk cow blues" (btw, that's the last Kinks album with a cover, as far as I know) and it's cool opener with good guitarwork by Dave who obviously put all his strength and skills in performance. And I think that song title is veeeery funny but that's only me (it also sounds hilarious translated to Russian). By the way, it's also the lengthiest track (3:40) others are even shorter. Next is ballad "Ring the bells" which I mentioned before but I want to say one more thing - Ray hasn't developed ballad writing talent (which will become great, but later) yet so every slow track released before "Something else" is rather flaccid. The only exception I see is "Something's better beginning" so as far as early Kinks are concerned, I prefer rocking Ray. Unfortunately, not every rocker penned by Ray is good and "Gotta get the first plane home" together with "When I see that girl of mine" clearly shows it.

You might be surprised why I put down so many songs but still call this album a minor classic so in this case let's talk about hits. You might have heard "Till the end of the day" since it's present on every live album and I have no doubt you like the opening power-chords. Ray's voice fits the song well, too. Surely, it still deals with so called "girls and cars" problems but you can feel some nostalgic notes as well. Plus, there's usually forgotten gem called "I'm on the island", which has a wonderful piano solo in the middle (probably played by Ray) - I really like and also it predicts the future britpop years. And there's yet another classic - "Where have all the good times gone" which has nostalgia filled lyrics ("Ma and pa look back on the things they used to do - didn't have no money and they always told the truth"). Even better version can be found on "Live at BBC" if you care about it. And the album closes soon with two good'n'catchy numbers, crying out "look, we could be written by Lennon/McCartney!!!", called "What's in store for me" and "You can't win" (what a cool R'n'B tune!). That's all - the album is very short, indeed, lasting only for 30 minutes. And, unfortunately, there're no bonus tracks so I can't bore you with one more paragraph.

Damn, I've got to give a lil' summary, I suppose. Well, here you are - screw the idea of buying first three Kinks albums if you have a thing called "singles compilation" or so. See, I've got this album for nothing - actually, I bought it together with "Something else" on one disc.

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FACE TO FACE, 1966


Overall Rating: 9*
Best Song: Sunny afternoon
Worst Song: Fancy

First real classic Kinks album.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

I don't know how a song or an album becomes classic, really - there must some imaginary line that you should cross, I suppose. And Ray managed to do it somehow. Of course, by previous albums (especially "Kontraversy") you could tell that Ray was a promising musician but, heck, how come he made such great album, marking its time? I mean, it's the first brit pop record ever, combining music hall piano, typical English mood and smooth Ray's voice that became my ethalon for most pleasant voice since I've heard "Face to face". Also this record managed to influence a big amount of famous (and even modern) popsters and I think it's still influencing young brit-pop bands.

So Ray recruited a great piano player Nicky Hopkins, who became a fifth member of the band for one record (and just imagine what would happen if he stayed with Kinks!) - yeah, you can hear his work almost on every track, after all, can you imagine brit-pop without honky-tonk piano? But well, it isn't Nicky who made this record sound so darn good - it's Ray, of course. This time he decided to stop pioneering the "You really got me" style and thought it would be better to write some great hooks that would result in such timeless radio hits as "Sunny afternoon" (it's even often played here, in Russia) and "Party line". And speaking about "Party line", it's a great opener with telephone ringing in the beginning (that actually made me rush to my telephone), plus the hooks are very nice making the melody memorable. It's also rocking "kick-ass" number that can easily make you dance and sing along. By the way, after listening to "Face to face" put on Stones' "Between the buttons" and just dare to tell me it's not influenced by Kinks! No? Well, listen to "Connection" and make sure for yourself that it does steal a lil' part from "Party line". Then we face "Rosie won't you please home", a charming and nostalgic tune - it's simple and can be played on only one guitar without losing its beauty. Yeah, I've just got an idea that it doesn't really matter how you play a song, stripped or plugged, if it has good melody it will still sound great - an interesting way to define whether the melody is crap or not, don't you think so? Anyway, the following song "Dandy" is funny in the vein of "A well respected man" (or should I say sarcastic?). But the main melody seems to be borrowed from "Well respected man" itself but I don't think it's a big crime - both songs look cute so you don't have me blaming Ray on stealing one more tune.

"Too much on my mind" isn't great by any means, though it doesn't mean it's bad - I like this calm song along with some other tunes filler-looking tracks like "Holiday in Waikiki" and "Most exclusive residence for sale". Oh, don't take word "filler" to heart, please - I only wanted to say they don't go beyond the "cute" status but nevertheless - they share good hooks and all of them are well structured. Also they are placed between highlights so you won't be bored much, I promise. And if you are wondering about highlights, here they are: "Session man", probably dedicated to Nicky Hopkins (he must have had much fun while playing it), has interesting piano licks and I've got so say that despite the fact it is rather fast (I mean "fast" in English way so I guess it's mid tempo in fact, hehe), it gives me a sad feeling. "Rainy day in June" might have been influenced by Beatles' "Rain" and please don't think of me as of rabid Kinks' fan when I say it's inferior to Kinks' "Rainy day", really - I just adore the pre-storm atmosphere which is all around that song. "A house in the country" is simple fun - a cool song about a youth that is hated at his home so he moves to the house in the country. And here's a little trivia for you - if you like British Invasion epoch, then you certainly have heard Pretty Things' "Emotions" that has "House in the country" cover; and guess what? Pretty things recorded their cover two months before Kinks' penned original on "Face to face" - seems like Ray was a very generous guy. "You're looking fine" is slow, almost blues number but it has somewhat drunk atmosphere so I like it and I guess you gotta dig the moment Ray sings "And I feel alright, yes, I feel alright". And of course, there's a song that pumps album rating on three points - yes, I'm speaking about maybe the best brit-pop song ever "Sunny afternoon", which is English to the core. And also it's the first time Ray pulls out great lyrics that don't deal with girls and cars anymore (although, funny enough, there's a verse about runaway girlfriend and car) - it's a simple song about disillusioned young man who has nothing but a sweet sunny afternoon in summertime (back vocals: "in summertime..mmmm..in summertime..mmmm"). Also it's even catchier than "Lola" or any song from later albums so I guess I'll have to call it one of best songs Ray ever wrote. In fact, it's sad so to relieve the moody atmosphere Ray chooses a good closer - lil' throwaway called "I'll remember".

Actually, that's the end of original release and the maximum rating I can give it is 8 but since I have reissue with bonus I think I've got to rate them, too. This time the bonus is a selection of singles from that epoch and almost everyone of them rules. "Dead end street" for example follows the style of "Sunny afternoon" and succeeds - in my opinion it's the second song to demonstrate Kinks' brit pop charm. "I'm not like everybody else" is cool, too, and Ray said once that this was a autobiographical song - "everybody was expecting wonderful things from Kinks but we messed it up, of course". "Big black smoke" features a very cathcy umm....damn, I can't use word "hook" so many times in my Kinks reviews... well, I suppose I'll twist it this way - it has very catchy thing, first letter of which is as first in word "hamster", second and third are as second letter in word "hockey", and the forth is a last letter in word "hook". Whew, I hope it wasn't very complicated for you. More, bonus tracks feature two previously unreleased songs "Mr. reporter" and instrumental "Little woman" but I think both are interesting only from historical point of view, although, the latter song features nice brass section.

Overall, it's still not Kinks' best but rather a start of row of great albums. Take it as Beatles' "Help!" if you want, I think both albums are equal (too bad Kinks didn't have their "White album"). And if you are planning to collect good classic rock collection, keep your eye on this pretty piece of music hall.

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SOMETHING ELSE, 1967

Overall Rating: 9.5*
Best Song: Waterloo Sunset
Worst Song: Situation Vacant

Written by Federico Marcon

No surprise this didn't sell very much in the 1967: the dull blue cover is very few noticeable in comparison with the explosion of colours of the one of Sgt. Pepper or Disraeli Gears, or with the funny charm of The Who Sell Out; plus the Kinks chose to close their eyes in front of psychedelia (God bless them! As Hendrix said, "there are so many bands called psychedelic: then you go to listen to them and find they only play "Johnny B. Goode" with wrong chords and tons of lights!") and, in this way, they achieved the peak of Britpop (whatever this means).Maybe Village Green is a better album than this and I partially agree with Starostin when he says Village Green is too Kink-ish, but Something Else remains surely a masterpiece of the genre and the level of songwriting was increased, something similar to the growth of the Beatles (I mean when they got more serious with their "Rubber Soul"). Nowadays, listening to Kinks and especially with this album, you may say they are unoriginal, conventional, with a plane and monotonous music, a sort of rip-off of the early Beatles, you may be sick of all falsetto choruses; you are damn wrong, believe me. Kinks were one of the most original and influential of the 60's, no matter if they refused to fall into psychedelia (how many bands would have done like them, avoiding fake crap like Their Satanic Majesty Request...); their chords and time signatures were adopted by millions of other pop bands, on this ground I say that the two Davies as guitarists were influential as Mr. Hendrix in person. But, you know, a speech based on influences isn't that strong, if the Kinks were only a band able to come out with imaginative and original riffs (a sure merit), they wouldn't receive such a high rating on my page. The cause of the rating is not only their musical innovations, their great and original melodies (believe me, they managed to be diverse and also inventive, only it'll take you a little time before you get used with them) but their fantastic songwriting and the themes Ray Davies talks about in his songs and Something Else is one of their best showcases for this. A brief analysis of the songwriting wouldn't be so useful: the simple fact their songs sound so sweet, the melodies are after all catchy, fluent (c'mon, Kinks-haters, they are a very accessible band, I want to hear somebody proving me the contrary!), simple but not affected by simplism, the additional instruments are used with gusto without overwhelming the song structures (like the strings on "Two Sisters"), the shortness of the songs is useful if a riff sounds obnoxious to you...and I can go on for hours... do you want...? I think not.

Unlike the previous Face To Face, here the Kinks provide not only great songs and melodies but also self-assured and mature lyrics, with intelligent themes immaculately written. What're the subjects of the songs? Well, Ray Davies, the main songwriter of the band, created a fantastic settlement for his songs: he prefers to concentrate on little and common situations, on the little things -concrete things, like the tea cup, thee houses, the fry bacon, the rugby boots- and trough these things he described the feelings of people. Often the description of a mind or of characters is made through the description of the environment in which the characters live (like on "Waterllo Sunset" or in the following album on "Do You Remeber Walter?") or the things they use. And all this attention for the common, for the..."salt of the earth"... isn't a trite thing as can be in hands of weak songwriters, but a powerful vehicle of analysis of the consciousness, with a depth that only J. Lennon reached with his Plastic Ono Band or Double Fantasy albums; personally I think only Dylan was more resonant than these guys. But their songs are also various and joyful pictures of their beloved country, with humble homages to the traditions, the people, the way of life, etc, etc. What, do you want more?! If you think that all these things make you sick and bored, well the band for you is The Rolling Stones, don't read any further! Do you want me talk about the single songs? Ok, I'll do. The first track is one of their best attempts at rock/pop with the happy piano combined with the vocals in the beginning and the pumping drums with some simple but tasteful rolls. "Death Of A Clown", written by Dave Davies, combines intelligent lyrics with a wise of humor mixed with sadness, with a tear-inducing piano intro broken by a powerful and "drunken" guitar riff. "Two Sisters" is an autobiographical song about the relationships between two sisters, a sort of metaphor of the relationship between the two Davies brothers; here the strings contributes to increase the smoothness of the lyrics, based on a story and so with a narrative purpose, "No Return" is a delicate and melancholic ballad, with brushes instead of sticks, and really cool and delicate vocal parts underlined by some slow and expressive chords; goes without saying the song is remarkable for its introspective lyrics. The intro of "Harry Rag" is a superb example of Kink-esque chords; the song is what I call a jolly but, even it's a bit lightweight, it's catchy with its pumping proceding based on drums and the choruses." Tin Soldier Man" is a funny song on the same level of the previous one.I don't like the following song, "Situation Vacant", because I think the melody is not so fluent or memorable, but the song is ok for me.Another contribution of Dave is the rocking "Love Me Till The Sun Shines", with a cool bass line and very imaginative drums; it's a song with a funky proceeding, very catchy. And now the masterpieces of the humble world created by Ray; what can I say? Little pictures of nature, homages to British habits...How can you resist from the tired melancholy of "Lazy Old Sun", with tasteful horns and organ, an introspective way of sing or from the typically Britpop of "Afternoon Tea", with a great attention to the little things, the delicate choruses (in falsetto of course!) accompanied by a great riff and also a good guitar solo... one of the best songs here, without any reasonable doubt! The last contribution of Dave can be see in the happy "Funny Face"; nothing so remarkable but a very well built song. "End Of A Season" is another masterpiece of the humble themes Dave was used to talk about: only one thing about this song, with a piano that reminds me the 50's and a vocal part that I feel near for the way in which Ray sings it, similar to F. Sinatra: the melancholy, the sadness and the proudness of the voice, the original music, the ability of be humble and resonant at the same time... The album ends with the fantastic "Waterloo Sunset"; at this point what can I add? All the previous things (the delicate settlement, the atmosphere, the resonance, the smooth music and voices) plus a self assured melody and a memorable riff. My awful English can't explain the charm of this song: listen to it and if you don't like it, devote your life to Kiss! It's sad this album was overshadowed by the summer of love, but if you want to hear something able to touch your inner feelings, your heart but also your intelligence buy it now: it's really something else!

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LIVE AT KELVIN HALL, 1967

Overall Rating: 8*
Best Song: Medley: Milk cow blues/Batman/Tired of waiting for you/Milk cow blues
Worst Song: None of them is bad, some just have worse sound quality.

Live album released in 1967. Following review is unnecessary to read.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Everyone needs obligatory live album, especially such big groups as Kinks. They just had to remind people of themselves somehow. And what can be better a live album boasting with an army of shouting fans? But if you think the sound quality is bad, better go and listen to some truly bad bootlegs. In fact, I might be the only person who thinks "Live at Kelvin hall" has cool atmosphere. And also it's obvious that it's better than any live album released by Stones or I don't even know who in that epoch - the level of energy shown on this concert makes me doubt that Who was the best live band. No, of course, seriously speaking this album has many low points (and screeeeeeeaaaaaming girls is not only one) but then again there are many redeeming factors. The main of them is the tight band. It's really a little wonder that Ray could sing all through the concert without going off key. And the band itself is acting nice - the drumming is furious although not aggressive but don't forget it's a concert for teenagers, most of who are girls, bass is not a bit heavy but still sounds sharp while Dave spends some good time with his electric guitar. Yes, the girls spoil the whole picture a bit but if you try to turn this album loud and just sit in other room then suddenly you'll realize that girls are almost gone! This helps listening of course, especially if you have never heard bad bootlegs in your life.

I don't know what is the point of very first minute on album (it's just a crying crowd greeting Kinks) but then our guys start to rock. "Till the end of the day" is done perfectly - cool opener. "A well respected man" is a doubtful choice for stage performance since the song is very quite itself and you just won't hear first notes because of you-know-who (Hey! I don't want suffragettes to sue me after all) but somewhere near the middle, the crowd slows down a bit and you can enjoy Ray's wonderful voice. Unfortunately, too many songs on here are done with the same tempo and level of energy as studio originals so you don't get to hear something extraordinary. For a example, if you clear all the noises off "Well respected man", "Come on now", "Dandy" (why the hell did they include it and "Well respected man" together? These two songs always sounded rather similar to me) and "You're looking fine", you'll get nothing but regular studio versions! Fortunately, some fine sounding crispy guitars have been added to others so at least it's interesting to hear a bit updated hits like "You really got me" and "Sunny afternoon". And speaking of latter, it has the best singalong I've ever heard. I mean, it's also unbelievable how Ray managed to calm down all the youngsters and make them sing chorus of "Sunny afternoon". This must have been one of the first singalongs in rock history, I suppose. And "You really got me" has even better solo (compared to studio version, I mean), that doesn't sound even a bit heavy. What more, there's a lil' surprise - the audience also starts singing "Happy birthday" in a break between songs (what for, I ask). But that doesn't matter of course cause there's a great medley at the end of show. You know, it's somewhat similar to Who's medleys and does it sound great - "Milk cow blues" is done faster than on "Kontraversy" while "Batman" chokes in its own energy (ever heard it? The most funny thing is that it consists of only one word (guess which one, heh heh) - "Baaatmaaan *cool bass riff*.... Baaatmaaan *cool bass riff*....Baaatmaaan, *a bit lower* Batman, *and lower* Batman ...."). Unfortunately, I have no "Tired of waiting for you" part (maybe it's our pirates or maybe it was just a moniker, who knows) so after a little solo, guys return to "Milk cow blues". What can I say? Great! Wish there were more medleys during live shows.

The only one bad thing about this baby is its length - and, no, it's not because vinyl couldn't handle more time, it just that these gigs were very short themselves - 40 minutes, how do you like it. Shame on you guys - you could at least stretch it to hour or so. But to hell with it, "Live at Kelvin hall" depicts Kinks as an essential British band so you just can't miss it if you like their brit-pop period (and you surely do!). Although, wait, I'd better twist it this way - you should own this record in case you're big fan of early sixties raw sound. Others can save money for studio variants.

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THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, 1968

Overall Rating: 10*
Best Song: The Village Green Preservation Society
Worst Song: that's hard to tell, but in the middle of the album you might get bored with Village Green.

Written by Federico Marcon

The absolute masterpiece: intelligent, humble, full of attention for little things and "salt of the earth", self assured melodies... but something too much Kink-ish, if you understand what I say. This album represents the peak of their Britpop period... oh... wait a moment... also Something Else represents a peak of this period; and so? While the previous one was more introspective (at least for me), here the Britpop feature is clearly declared, while in the previous the masters are the melancholy for the "End of a season", here they are proud of being English and the title track can be seen as a declaration of wills (but I suggest to not take too much seriously this song, a bit of auto-irony is surely present). For me this album is not as resonant as the previous one and I find the lyrics more lightweight; but I don't care so much because here there is a terrific bunch of incredible melodies and songs and, generally, the album is more refined than the previous one.

This is their first concept album in which all the themes of the previous album are treated in a more organic way; what is this concept? Here Ray Davies described a little British village (it's a fake place but I think there are some villages in England able to give you this kind of thoughts) settled in the countryside in which lives some cool characters (the most funny, and the inspiration for it is clearly taken from Carrol's "Alice In Wonderland", is the cat described in "Phenomenal Cat"), there is one of the last steam-powered train and an immaculate nature. A paradise and this paradise is ruled by the old traditions of Great Britain, like Ray tells us in the beautiful title track; I said this album was less introspective than the previous one but maybe the themes are treated in a better way and they are couple with a really great and amazing melody. What are the themes? We start for the happy ode to the ancient traditions and values (but with an eye also to the future) in the title track, then we go on with some character describing ballads, reflection about the old age ("Picture Book" with its super riff), recall of the past with "Last Of The Steam-powered Train" and "Village Green", critics against the traditional religion (this may seems a bit out of tune) in "Big Sky", the mighty social analysis of "Animal Farm", the relationships among people in "People Take Picture Of Each Other"... These are only few of the themes on this album but I don't want to go on this direction; I want to point out that this album is able to create (thanks to its themes) a great atmosphere; don't laugh, please, synths or mellotron are not always necessary for creating a cool atmosphere: here the humble and happy mood, the simple but resonant lyrics, the smoothness in describing the landscapes, the settlement, the absolutely non pretentious music, all these things take and put you into Davies' beautiful world, in this peaceful paradise lived by phenomenal cats and people taking picture of each other. It's a real shame that nowadays very few people know the Kinks. I think they are a really first class band, inferior only to Beatles and Who according to me, but not for quality but because Kinks have not a very consistent catalogue (mmh... also the Who are a bit inconsistent from this point of view). I think they are surely better than Rolling Stones and I dare to say that this statement is not so subjective (Stones' fans, before flame me read my Stones' page and look at all those super positive ratings!)... but this is not the right place for these discussions.

As I already said and as I'll go on repeating until the end, this album is full of terrific and catchy melodies and also of well written and composed songs: the peak of songwriting is reached here; the orchestration and the arrangements are a bit less complex than in Something Else, and there are less string and organs but they are used with more gusto and ability. But this album may have a defect: if you are a casual listener or your ears are not trained in 60's music it may seem to you a bit monotonous and uniform. Well, it's an objective statement that this album isn't the most diverse of their catalogue: maybe the fact this is a concept album forces Ray to find also a musical common feature for the songs and this is the result, but since the melodies are all good, I don't care this fact. However this is a little defect, but for me is very little because the songs that may seems to you boring are "Johnny Thunder", "Sitting By Riverside", "Village Green" and a couple of others are a really incredible bunch of perfect built songs with a distinctive melody (hey, give them some time to go into your mind!) tasteful lyrics and a charming atmosphere. Here I'm going to indicate the highlights of this album; among theme there is surely the manifesto constituted by the joyful title track, the catchy and involving riff of "Picture Book" (have you noticed that Green Day stole them this riff? ). Another good song is represented by "Last Of The Steam-powered Train": a rock song with some interesting guitar lines and an horn section that improve the musical texture giving it more groove; here there is also a short instrumental in which the band enhance the speed of the song, making them more rocking and, if you want to hear me, more beautiful. Another gem here is surely "Big Sky": apart for the intelligent lyrics, the music, especially that guitar in the background, are really good and the spoken parts are a good counterpoint for the smooth choruses (how can you remain motionless in front of "... one day will be free..."?). The other strong challenger for the best song here is surely "Animal Farm", with its imaginative riff, the "drunken" vocal parts, the excellent lyrics and the song's structure perfectly balanced and refined. Also "Phenomenal Cat" is interesting for its music, not psychedelic but a bit childish, but in the good sense (it's a sort of funny tales written with gusto and with quotations from Carrol's books).

What more do you want? I hope to have explained why this album is a masterpiece so... buy it now!!!!

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ARTHUR OR THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE, 1969

Overall Rating: 9*
Best Song: Shangri-la
Worst Song: Young And Innocent Days

Written by Federico Marcon

This album is often called one of the first rock operas. The rock opera who came first are of course Tommy by the Who and, in 1968, S.F. Sorrow by Pretty Things. Let me disagree; I think we can't name Arthur a rock opera, simply because it doesn't carry a strong story: in fact the songs don't tell any story. Of course they are all about the life of the middle-class member called Arthur, but they are not so strongly linked, they treat single events of his life, jumping from some period to others; I know that in a rock opera a maniacally precise analysis of the things that happen to the character won't be that useful, but for me Arthur is a sort of collection of photos from the life of this guy, a sort of "via crucis" of his most important moments in his life. In this way, all the purely narrative gimmicks are avoided (I mean those short songs that carry none message but are only a prosecution of the story, like "There Is A Doctor" on Tommy: personally I usually like them but I know to someone they can result obnoxious) and Kinks concentrated more on the single song than on the entire story; maybe this is the reason because I like this album very much, it's a sort of photography album: only the best was chosen! Arthur is more a soundtrack for the film than a real rock opera (as you all know Arthur was born as soundtrack for a film and the storyboard was commissioned by Granada Television to Ray Davies with the help of the writer Julian Mitchell). Unlike other rock opera (now my thoughts are going to Tommy) the storyline is very clear and absolutely not involved; Arthur is the story, as Davies explained, of a "...ordinary man like myself who had been a small cog in the empire and watched it passed him by". But there is also another inspiration (and another way of interpretation of the story) for this album: Arthur was Davies' brother-in-law, a man who in Davies' words "...is a very strict man part of the generation that was disillusioned with Britain... nothing ever quite worked out for him...". In fact the love and the progressive disillusion for the British Empire are the most important themes of this album. Arthur was born and grew with a big faith in the possibilities of the Empire ("Victoria"), serve it for his life ("Yes Sir, No Sir"), went to the War ("Some Mother's Son"), then went into the colony of "Australia", found a small and beautiful house ("Shangri-La"), Arthur got old, remembers with melancholy the past ("Young And Innocent Days") and sadly found that his country didn't love him as he did ("Nothing To Say" and "Arthur"). Unlike what may seem, this album isn't strongly linked to the British experience of the Empire and it has its universal meaning, just think to the reflection about the satisfaction after a life full of events, the recall of the youth, the desire of devote own life to someone who will repay you only with material things, the love for simplicity and the quest for a peaceful life not on the cut of the edge (for some of you like me this could be read as 'mediocrity', and this contrast, between a life riding on the tide and one quiet and full of tranquillity, is partially based the best song here, I mean "Shangri-La"). You see, Arthur is more than a simple story: this time all the Davies' attention for little and humble things are used to achieve a very specific purpose, I mean analyze all the themes I said before, with a cohesive intent much more underlined than other past times. A Kinks-hater could say this time all the little world of Ray can be really useful! And so why didn't give this album an overall rating of 10?Of course not for the music, but for the lyrics. Yes, you heard right, for me the lyrics are sometimes a problem on this album; I mean that sometimes they get on my nerves (well, wait a moment, they get on my nerves only as Davies' lyrics can do! I mean, can anyone hate them? Hardly, I think) because they are too didascalic. For example "Some Mother's Son" is a quite standard song against the "ugliness" of the war, and the verse "...glances up to see the sun..." sounds to me as a typical commonplaces; or "Young And Innocent Days" has very didactical lyrics, something like "Time" by Pink Floyd, in which the themes are openly declared. And when "Mr. Churchill Says" tries to imitate the thoughts of simple people is a bit stupid: ok, they are simple people but not stupid! By the way, I hope the song tries to imitate the thoughts of simple people... Only these defects are enough to put down the overall rating to 9. And what about the music? It's a bit harder than the usual Kinks' style, and this is a good thing because in this way they sound more diverse; of course they don't refuse their 'traditional' style and so we have the usually good ballads like "Shangri-La" and the tasteful rock/pop fusion like "Victoria". Let's go and analyze the single songs. The opening track is the joyful and happy "Victoria" a song in which is declared all the enthusiasm and the patriotism of the young Arthur; as I already said the music is a tasteful mix of pop and rock, with a typical Kink-esque riff, with an electric guitar coupled with an acoustic one; the song proceeds quite fast and is always brilliant thanks to the powerful drums and the enthusiastic choruses. The second tack is "Yes Sir, No Sir", a song about (and against I suppose) the diffused militarism, which throws away the thought freedom; as the subject suggests, the song is full of brilliant militaresque rolls from Avory. Personally I think the song has a certain lack of melody, but the solos during the vocal parts, accompanying the vocal parts, are really good and the horn improves the musical texture. Plus the song is a multipart one, and the part in which Ray sings "...doesn't matter who you are..." has really cool vocals for me. I've already spoken about the lyrics of "Some Mother's Son"; unlike the lyrics the music is really good with the tear inducing piano coupled with smooth vocals and the background delicate choruses. They are really convincing in singing this song, so I'll pass on the lyrics. "Driving" is a funny song, happier than "Victoria" with a good riff; I like the song because I think the music is really adequate to the lyrics. In fact the song is about the optimism given by the industrial growth of the country and in according to the subject the music is lightweight and funny... forget all your problems and get in my car and take a drive with me! "Brainwashed" is a punk song: in the music (the excellent riffs of this sons were recycled for millions of punk song, especially the three highly distorted chords in the middle section); it's based on hammering drums, powerful assault from the guitars and angry lyrics about how the system fucks the mind of its 'servants'; this song is pure power, but it's well arranged and the horns improve the sound because these instruments are used with intelligence: not to put the song in a trite jazzing atmosphere, these instruments really rock! "Australia" is about the emigration of Arthur in this land; it's remarkable mostly for the instrumental coda, in absolute the most complex but tasteful instrumental by the Kinks based on a wise interlacement between horns and the perfect soloing of Dave Davies (he's technically perfect, at least for my ears). Critics usually say this instrumental is the closest Kinks ever get to psychedelia and this proved to me the word psychedelic is often abused: simply the music increases its power and accelerates, becoming more breathtaking if you listen to me, or more confuse if you listen to a Kinks-hater, but I don't really see any reason to call it psychedelic: if this was a freak out it, it would not sound so perfectly balanced, with the right length and intelligently built solos by guitars and horns. The best song here for me is surely "Shangri-La": the fantastic and delicate intro on the acoustic guitar, the wonderful choruses. The main purpose of this song is, for me, to give you as sense of bewilderment: a man who devoted his life for his country, is paid with few things... and he's proud of this!!!! The lyrics are fantastic as the riff and the arrangement. I'll go on. "Mr. Churchill Says" has the awful lyrics I've talked about, but the music is... unmemorable but catchy, as usual for Kinks, with an extreme tasteful work by Dave Davies on lead guitar; generally it is a good song but a bit fragmentary for my tastes, but charming especially for the acceleration the song has after a minute: this part really rocks very hard and has some very interesting Spanish-esque guitar solo that improve the quality of the song. After all is a good song. "She Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina" is a sort of return to the attention for the little things, but also here the little things are used as metaphors for more interesting arguments, like the power of the fashion in the society; musically the song is more relaxed than the previous one, with some good piano parts. Also here, there is a more rocking part but for me is not as appealing as the previous on on "Mr Churchill...", even if the drums are really groovy. But now the matter is only about the personal tastes, and so another good song, but a bit too confused for my tastes. "Young And Innocent Days" has trite lyrics, as I've already said, but the subject is so important for all the humankind (so I think) that I can't prevent a tear fall down... I could be forced to say also the music is so breathtaking as the themes, but it isn't, there is a sort of lack of melody, even if with some inspired piano (just say keyboards for the sake of precision) lines and convincing vocals. I think that if it was be 'a cappella', it could be sound better. "Nothing To Say" is a song about the Arthur's days in third age; I dare to say my attitude towards this song is: "I've got nothing to say but it's ok"...sorry, a momentary lack of inspiration... I can't find any words for this song... how difficult is to find each time different but interesting words about a song... aaah the dirty job... It's better to pass to "Arthur". The song is about the final disillusion of the character, made just after a brief summary of all his past life; the song is remarkable mainly for its riff (Kinks are a nearly inexhaustible mine for the riffs!) but I don't see anything outstanding as in other Kinks' songs. At the end I say this is the album of maturity of the Kinks, with great arrangements all over, immaculate playing (a rarely given credit to them; sadly, because here Avory on drums and Dave on lead guitar did really very cool works). But there are some defects in lyrics and sometimes the melody is lost. However, an excellent album, just a little inferior to the previous two.

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LOLA VS. POWERMAN AND THE MONEYGOROUND (PART1), 1970

Overall Rating: 8.5*
Best Song: LOLA (duh)
Worst Song: LONG WAY FROM HOME (duh again)

Maybe an album you should start your Kinks collection with.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

You probably know that by that time Kinks were on edge of being kicked out from major league becuase a) Kinks were still banned from the USA (although, I gotta admit guys can blame only themselves) b) they missed Woodstock and Isle of Wight festivals and c) their four albums in row went by almost unnoticed. That's a crying shame of course, considering that all they (except live baby) were the best band could offer. Maybe that's why Ray decided to make another concept album about record companies and music buisness, which needless to say, sucks. Unfortunately, it's only half concept (main theme deals with such songs as 'Denmark street', 'Top of the pops', 'Powerman' and maybe 'This time tomorrow') - the other half can be found on 'Everybody's in show-biz', by the way.

So if you want me to describe concept (and you surely don't but that doesn't really matter) here it is: when you issue a song and it brings some money, too many people who don't even deserve these money want to get it, so it the end you are left without even a penny. If you make a big hit, you become very famous and 'girls recognize you and start to scream' and soon get to number one in charts ('Son, you records are number one!') but when you start sliding down noone reeally remembers your name (yeah, that's what happenend to Ray in the end, poor boy). And etc. etc. etc.And you know what?!!! The album bashing music buisness got to number one in charts and brought the fame back to Kinks in USA! How about that? Things can be so unpredictable sometimes, I say.

But let's get to the songs - almost all of them are well produced, polished and things so you want get bored even for a minute. Next, the songs selection is very clever - the guys throw in good opener and closer ('Gotta be free' with great riff). And the middle part of the album is even better with the title track which you should have heard (it's a radio standart in case you are deaf) unless you live in Russia where the poor Kinks are ignored just like Who is (just imagine what we have to live with - tasteless mainstream of 80s and 90s!). Possibly you know about what this song is about so I won't bother myself discussing it in detail (or too many XXX sites will put a link to this page) - let's just say that it's about two boys, one of which have never had a girl before and the other have never had a boy before, so he dresses in woman's clothes and...

repeat
LOLA! LO-LO-LO-LO-LOOOLA!!!! LO-LO-LO-LO-LOOOOLA!;
until (1=0);

But actually, 'Lola' isn't the only great song - the other is 'Apeman', a song about evolution which captures some humoruos lyrics. More, it has a guitar lick borrowed from 'Lola' but let's just pretend we don't notice it. The piano is also very cute. The other highlight, at least for me, is 'Strangers' which has a very catchy hook merged with a slow melody - a good song to relax with - I tried, believe me! Music hall style hasn't died yet, too - just a take a look at 'Denmark street' and 'Moneygoround' (ah, good and jolly days of 'Face to face'). Also the album is half filled with riff songs, such as humoruos success story 'Top of the pops', rocking 'Rats' and no less catchy 'Powerman'.

The ballads include 'This time tomorrow', 'Get back in the line' and 'Long way from home'. I gotta say that 'This time tomorrow' has a very lightweight melody and simply charming tone of guitar - you gotta like this humble song since it has a classic Ray Davies voice. The second one is bit inferior and you might hate it from first listens (like me) but just let it take you down in its depth - it's good. As for 'Long way', I consider it dull. Even the lyrics can't save it all because there's not a single hook in sight, too bad.

Bonus tracks don't present any outtakes - just two demo versions and an edited version of 'Lola' which has 'Coca-cola' replaced with 'Cherry-cola' for understandable reasons. If you don't have this reissue don't get too hot - better save you money for 'Muswell hillbillies' and if already have 'Hillbilles' then buy 'The days of future passed' (Moody blues) - you know, I'm listening to it right now and it's a great album.

Oh, and in case you wonder why my opinion is so high and the rating is a bit too low, lemme just say that 'Lola' is too commercial and straighforward for my tastes. Feel free to raise the score up to 13 if you don't think so.

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PERCY, 1971

Overall Rating: 7*
Best Song: God's children
Worst Song: It's soundtrack. I don't define worst songs on soundtracks.

Throwawayish soundtrack with few brilliant moments . Buy it if see it cheap.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

You know, I'm not going to write a long review on album that doesn't last more than 35 minutes, especially if it's a soundtrack to a mediocre film, dealing with penis problems or something like that (although, I'm sure it has a very weird twisted plot). Surely, I've heard far more short soundtracks (20 minutes of 'Luck man') so 33 minutes (and that's the real lenght of an album) isn't that short at all. But you know, when you treat it as album, you get a bit disappointed. Okay, to the review now.

If you look at the tracklisting your eyes will eventually hit 'Lola'. Don't fear - it's rearranged instrumental track which shows that latest hit from band could have been disco song as well. Although, many people seem to dislike it, I just don't get the reason - it's catchy and good to dance to. Maybe your girlfiend will like it, who knows. Oh and don't forget about magnificient opener 'God's children', which, were it taken out, could be a very strong anhem dealing with preassure of society (or a big boss, if you like it) on man. I'm actually stunned with the fact that Ray contributed this song to soundtrack and not regular album, but it only proves that he was in his best form. Other good moments are ,uh, well, 'Moments' (which is a bit childish but has some great hooks anyway so count me happy), 'Animals in the Zoo' (seems to be an 'Apeman' clone) and 'Dreams'. 'The way love used to be' is a cute ballad, too, taking it's charm from Ray's nostalgic nature. 'Whip lady' is a short and rather decent instrumental. 'Helga' seems to be stolen but still tolerable song.

But others are rather pointless. I know, it's a soundtrack and it is supposed to have filler but well, filler is filler. And by the filler I mean generic blues, which I'm sure could be composed even by 10-year old kid, 'Completely', somewhat medieval 'Just friends' (although, you gotta like tone of Ray's voice and some organ parts as well) and broadwayish 'Willesden green' (geez, Ray imitaiting Frank Sinatra!).

Anyway, if you see it for about $4 or so be sure to grab it - you'll like it. And if not - try to listen it right after 'Phobia'. Got it?

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MUSWELL HILLBILLIES, 1971

Overall Rating: 9*
Best Song: 20th century man
Worst Song: No, not here. Okay, you may get bored by 'Uncle son', but me, no, I don't.

Hi, we are Kinks. We write jazzy songs and do it well.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

I was very surprised when I heard this record. In fact, I was expecting a serious letdown after 'Lola' since not so many bands can make a better album after a very successful one (and Kinks already had this case before), but , no, this one turned to be another timeless masterpeicce (sorry for cliche) and the last excellent Kinks album till today. This time Ray prefered to stay away from his hard-rock roots and make an album full of somewhat jazzy melodies. By this time band already got a new member, keyboardist John Gosling, so you hear piano (one of my favourite instruments, by the way) on every track.

Oh, and it's another concept album (fourht in a row!), this time with a humble but very resonant concept, which deals with simple hillbillies and their problems and pressure of the social structures and etc. and etc. and etc. The whole thing starts with the cover where you can see Kinks biding their time in a bar, which is full of ordinary people who weren't aware of being pictured! A great idea, I think. Yeah, and on the back cover you can see an old gentleman starring at you with a veeery funny face. Well, and the album is about all these people - some of them lost their mind ('Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia blues', favourite lyrics moment (later - f.l.m.) :'Well the milkman is a spy and the grocer keeps on following me, and the woman next door is an undercover for the KGB' ), some get back to favourite places only to discover them in ruins ('Holiday', f.l.m: 'The sea is an open sewer, but I really couldn't care, I'm breathing through my mouth so I don't have to sniff the air'), some girls exhaust themselves with diets ('Skin and bone', flm: 'Living on the edge of starvation and she says she's got no appetite'), someone's life is ruined by alcohol and etc. Oh, I forgot to say that this record is somewhat autobiographic - Ray lived on the Muswell hill, near Holloway jail, had a granny who watered him with tea and uncle who believed in social companies and unions.

Okay, to the songs themselves. So the record kick off with out-of-album-song '20th century man', which has wonderful solo towards the end (you gotta dig this swinging organ) and has good lyrics as well. But that's the only song that stands out - others are much quiter and don't last that long. Follower is 'Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia blues' which features some black humour. You can think it's not a highlight but that's only because it is overshadowed by too good opener. Next track is humble 'Holiday' about a man who comes back to town of his youth and finds it almost ruined but still pretends he enjoys his holiday - sad, isn't it? And the melody? It's unbelievably simple (even I can play it on my acordion) but verrrry charming. Also it was said that Ray sang the first verse with a big cigar in his mouth to reach desired tone.

Next comes 'Skin & bone', a bebop/jive number, which everyone loves much but I just can't get the greatness of the song. It's good and cathy but way too 30s sounding for my tastes. Still, the lyrics are clever. 'Alcohol' is an anhem for a man with broken life with a slow drunken melody (btw, Ray used to sing 'Alcohol' with a bottle of beer on his head - those were the days, boy...). I bet anything this song is best to be listened in drunk condition (although, I've never been drunk). The mid section starts with 'Complicated life' which is well writen so you probably won't notice too simple melody. It's also lazy just like everything else on here. And next goes 'Here come people in grey'(to take me away) capturing some bitter lines and full of pain cry 'I'm gonna pass me brand new resolution, gonna fight real one man revolution ... someway....but here come the people in grey to take me away'. I'm not aware of any other artist who could present you the mind of man who eagerly wants to fight against the whole world so clear. True masterpiece.

'Have a cuppa tea' might be the only song that has no black humour lyrics. As you can understand from the title it's about undeniable English attribute - tea which helps you to cope with all your problems. Damn, Ray could even succeed in writing a cool advertising of Earl Grey. Anyway, next comes my second favourite song - 'Holloway jail' with a wonderful bluesy melody and after a while I find myself swaying from side to side. Gee, that's what I call 'drive'.

Many people seem to neglect last three songs and two bonus ones saying that they are too simple and don't have serious lyrics but you can destroy all my CDs collection if the line 'All life we work but work is a bore - if life's for living then what's living for?' (from 'Oklahoma U.S.A.') is bad. And the title track is a good closer with an idea similar to 'God's children' from 'Percy' soundtrack. I know, you may not like bonus tracks ('Mountain woman' and piano-only 'Kentucky Moon') along with 'Uncle son' but if you let yourself sink in the album's atmosphere you'll find them pleasant, really.

BTW, I've just noticed that 'Mountain woman' has a 'And they drank Mountain Dew...' line. Heck, Ray does have a strange passion for putting soda brand names in his songs.

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EVERYBODY'S IN SHOWBIZ, 1972

Overall Rating: 8*
Best Song: CELLULOID HEROES
Worst Song: LOOK A LITTLE ON THE SUNNYSIDE

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Look here now. Life can be unfair to best of us. Kinks haven't even celebrated their 10 year anniversary but have already faced some serious financial problems and once were at the edge of disbanding. Seems like there were enough troubles, but no - another good album failed to hit high places in charts and what's even worse the Kinks' reputation was spoiled again without any reason (although, they could gain it back after 7 years with stupid 'Low budget'). I mean, heck, this can't be a simple coincidence when most of your great albums fail. Now I can understand why Ray had a nervious breakdown two years later.

Okay, enough of pity - I hope I managed to squeeze a tear from your eye - let's get to the songs. Ah, crap, I forgot to tell you the main idea of album so let me write few lines about it, okay? First of all, I gotta say that this whole conception seems to be a sequel to 'Lola' - again, we're against big bosses that control our lives, again we strugle and work hard only to bring few pennies home, again we face terrible problems of being a star and etc etc etc. Also this is double album (and reissue is only single CD filled to top with music - hooray!) half studio, half live and I have to admit that both are quite good - no matter what other people say.

Whew... Now I feel free to start discussing songs. First track you get to hear is 'Here comes yet another day', which a good song to start your day with - it has simple but still charming bass line and the trumpets (oh, btw, Kinks are 10 people band now!!!) are also neat. Full of sarcasm lyrics deal with all the buzz of average day of rock artist - you have to be at thousand places at the same time, also there's not even a chance for a romance with a cute girl even if you meet one ('No time for affection, I'm moving in a new direction' - sings Ray) and you go to sleep just to discover that new day has begun and you've got to repeat it all again ('See that morning break, oh Lord, here comes yet another day'). Unfortunately, you may get bored by opener's follower - 'Maximum consumption', which isn't actually boring or bad - it's just too slow, apparently guys shouldn't have put it after a fast composition. Frankly speaking, 'Maximum consumption' is just a 'Paranoia blues' clone with a new hook added to distinguish two songs. You may skip it, of course, but remember to get back after listening last track - I hope you'll like it.

Situation gets worse for casual Kinks non-fan (not me, obviously) who listens this record just out of interest with third song - 'Unreal reality'. Again it's slow but this time I don't even like the lyrics (it's about screen heroes as far as I understand). You may skip this track (and not get back) to reach much better humurous 'Hot potatoes'. I don't why but I simply adore this melody (it's stolen, I suppose, but who cares?) and even the lyrics, which are by the way the best lyrics Ray ever wrote about true love. Yeah, and you gotta dig the arrangement of the song - it's very jazzy and also features a nice hook. Next comes even better 'Sitting in my hotel' - looks like Ray was seriously afraid of being sold out (and the 'work-in-progress' name of this track was 'Who I'm trying to fool'). Don't worry, Ray, you just could not sell out because nobody was buying your records back then, heh heh.... On the other hand, you can take this song as a complain about losing good old friends after becoming rich and famous - dunno, really - it's heartfelt anyway. In fact, sometimes I get a feeling that 'Everybody's in showbiz' is a very sad album, much different from funny and lightweight 'Lola'. You know, I think Ray understood that with 'Muswell hillbillies' he have passed his peak but still had to invent something new to keep the image of star. Yeah, this is depressing.

Anyway, next side (which has many counrtyish songs!) opens with 'Motorway', a song about crappy fast food, which makes you sick (I mean food, not song!) but you don't have any other alternative. Yeah, and Ray is absolutely right about motorway tea - I just hate drinking tea outside my home, it tastes so horrible. I mean, you know, tea is something very intimate - you have to make it yourself and try to evade the affection of any person's aura - otherwise, tea doesn't taste good!!! ...well, sorry for offtopic, let's get to next song - 'You don't even know my name', which is, surprise surprise, written by Dave Davies! Already forgot who is this guy? I'll remind you that it's Ray's brother that used to go off key whenever he touched the microphone but this time - no, he sings just right. The melody is cathy, somewhat countryish, and there are few cool hooks so count me happy. 'Supersonic Rocket Ship' has a very simple tune and childish lyrics about a big ship that can unite all the different people of our world so we could live in peace ('And few months later a Concord plane was built to separate people on rich and poor again', admits Ray in interview). I know there are a lot of people who diss Ray's lightweight and childish lyrics but you know, I still feel myself a child so you don't get me complaining. I mean complaining about this song, not its follower that has near to primitive melody with the cliched lyrics about troubles of rock star again. I don't have much against it and sometimes I even like it but it sounds so ..ummm.... banal that I consider it to be the worst song on whole album.

Oh, and the best cut was saved for the end - ladies and hentlemen, please meet the best ballad written by Ray Davies - 'Celluloid heroes'!!! It's rather long but you simply won't notice it cause the lyrics flow gently and melody is calm but still heart tearing. You may find a better version (with synthesizer solo in the beginning) on 'One for the road' live album. Oh, and if we started talking about live albums, let me tell you something about live half. First of all, it's a Carnegie Hall, where the gig takes place, so the audience isn't very big and loud (which is a plus of course). Secondly, there are about 6 or 7 Kinks on stage and it's very hard not to sound like a mess but they play during the whole concert just fine! So I don't understand why some people turn their noses of live part saying it's bad. The only complain I can get is that the song selection isn't very strong (they sing songs only from recent 'Arthur', 'Lola' and 'Hillbillies' albums) but to hell with it! There are at least 3 live versions that are better than studio ones - I'm talking about 'Top of the pops', 'Brainwashed' (it's much faster! youpee!) and 'Skin & bone' (again it's done on fast speed). 'Holiday' gains some bombastic arrangement (sounds cool, although, the song loses its humble atmosphere), 'Paranoia blues' is a bit overorchestrated but sounds alright, too. 'Till the end of the day' (avialable only on CD reissue as bonus track) is done fine, too. Others might be a bit sloppy, but I like them anyway. Oh, and there's 'Lola', or should I say 'Lola' coda since it's only 1.40 long and only features a funny crowd singalong.

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PRESERVATION ACTS 1 & 2, 1973-1974

Overall rating: 7*
Best song: Salvation road (but actually there're more songs of same good quality)
Worst song: tough question, really, I’m not even going to answer.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

The year of 73 was hard for Kinks, probably because previous album failed to hit charts and received a lot of negative reviews. That's why Kinks had to find a new way out. Last time the day was saved by "Lola", a hit orientated record, and this time around people were expecting something in that vein, I suppose. But no! Ray messed it all up and directed Kinks for a new sound - opera/jazz songs would occupy next three projects. This period is usually despised and put down by most of critics so this makes people turn away from Ray opera projects. Oh, well, these years are not sugar with honey of course, but if you approach them without "they must suck" idea hanging around in your head, you'll find some attractive moments. And let me tell you one more thing before starting the actual review - I admire Ray for creating these rock operas, forgetting the fact that maybe they had more bad points than good ones. I mean, it's like Dylan's "Christian trilogy" if you know what I try to explain.

A little of historic reference won't hurt, I think. Back in 1973 Ray planned to release a double album without any splitting up on two acts. But the schedule of 72 tour was so dense that there was no time left for recording a new studio album. Still, somehow Kinks managed to steal some time and spend few weeks in Konk studios. Their efforts resulted into a bunch of songs that could easily fill double album. When Ray was mixing the songs, he suddenly understood that the band didn't hit their mark and decided to start it all again from scratch. Unluckily, the RCA guys weren't interested whether Ray had time or not - all they needed was another album. That's why Kinks had quickly assembled once again in studios to record first part of Preservation project in almost no time. That is why the first act sounds so messy, btw.

Well, you surely noticed that I've combined two acts into one review. Well, it's just me who thinks that it's not interesting to talk about first act without comparing it to second one. In fact, these two acts were released in one box in Europe later on CD so I have full right to pretend that I have this particular release and review it as one album. First of all, let me try to explain what the hell is going on - indeed, it's hard to understand a thing about concept without reading liner notes. The story is a more detailed view on "Village green" as you might have understood from album's title, but when "VGPS" concentrated mainly on the mood and nostalgia scenes, "Preservation" focuses on the things that were going on in the Green Village. I'll just explain you the plot briefly - you'll understand everything else from the songs themselves, I guess. As it usually happens in fairy tales, the very beginning is bright - people live their lives and don't care about any troubles. Suddenly, a man called Flash steps in with a bunch of rich cronies and tries to occupy Village Green by buying every house in the town. This is not to mention that except money he cares for nothing. At the same time a new hero emerges in Village Green - mister Black, who, despite his name, seems to be "good" guy and starts his fighting against Flash. Ray also depicts the lives of ordinary people who had a big misfortune to witness all these frictions. In the end, Black persuades people to follow him and leads 'em into a big battle. At the same time Flash repents and regrets about the things he's done but it's too late. So when he's thrown off the throne, there's nothing more left for him that's why he leaves the scene. But that's not end - after all, it would be very silly for Ray to make a happy end and thus make the whole opera veeery cheesy - not at all - after these things Flash turns into a bitter character and establishes a totalitarian regime. Cool, eh? In fact, the only idea Ray tried to deliver was that communism as well democracy isn't such a good thing. Certainly, the idea is nice but I personally don't think that the plot is all that worthwhile. And sure enough after creating such winding and twisted plot, Ray had to write appropriate lyrics. Consequently, he hadn't enough time to deliver fascinating melodies so this is a kind of stealfest as George Starostin says. What's more, Dave had to go back into the shadow since a) he didn't like rock operas and b) Ray wouldn't let anyone to edit his plot so no songs from outside were accepted. I think that's a shame - Dave never wrote atrocious melodies for Kinks albums (no doubt, there are tons of weak ones on his solo records). Also the back-up band takes the place of Dave which means you'll have to sit through jazzy passages. Obviously, that's not your classic Kinks, although line-up hasn't changed much.

Now let's proceed to discussing songs - the Velvel reissue greets you with not originally present on album single "Preservation". For some strange reasons it was released after Preservation - maybe Ray was trying to draw attention to album since it didn't sell at all? Who knows… Nevertheless, song is here to briefly present the story. In fact, it only introduces Flash and nothing more. To tell you the truth, there's not much happening in Act 1 - as I said before, it's just a messy introduction to Act 2. "Morning song" is passable instrumental with some not very imaginative background harmonies. Next song "Daylight" shows the flaws of new-look Kinks - Ray just could find the right melody, so the band shuffles from one pointless riff/chorus to another. No, no, don't think "pointless" means "bad", I only think that nobody from Kinks actually knows where the whole thing is going. There's no strong borderline between verse and chorus or maybe there is but I can't feel it anyway. This makes the songs a bit chaotic and hard to remember even though Ray does insert a good hook or two. "Sweet lady Genevieve" is a great improvement over previous rather doubtful songs - I consider it to be the best song in first part cause you can feel melody, band doesn't change their way during playing and there's also a gorgeous hook. Then goes "There's a change in a weather". It starts off nicely - a picking up steam rock'n'roll number … which lasting only for a minute - after a while band loses the sense of melody and falls apart, venturing into some horrible jazzy tunes. I don't hate it but it's rather tiresome. "Where are they now" was meant to be nostalgic song about "where have all the good times gone" but failed to become one. I want to say one thing - Ray surely has a talent to write nostalgic songs but when he writes such a straightforward song that categorically states: "I am nostalgia filled! You must dig me!". No way. I'd rather trash it than say a good word about it. Thankfully, "One of the survivors" is thousand times better than its predecessor. It's built on typical 50s rock'n'roll/surf-rock song about … well, who might have guessed - Johnny Thunder from "VGPS". You know, the lyrics deal with an untalented singer and his band that do covers of well known hits, and even if he doesn't share much success, he feels satisfied anyway. One thing I don't get quite well - was Ray talking about himself? I dunno … Oh, and "One of the survivors" borrows a chorus from "Barbara Ann" with "ba-ba-ba Barbara Ann" replaced by "rock-rock-rock-rock'n'roll" and even has a reference towards Beach Boys' "Little Honda" in the coda. "Cricket" is a nice stylization of a 20's jazz song, can't say more about it. "Money & Corruption/I'm your man" features two completely musically different parts and while the first one is horrible, unmelodic jazzy … um, well, crap, I guess. But the second half is great - slow but tuneful track with a pleasant hook making it stand out. "Here comes Flash" seem to feature stolen riff and vocals from Dave. The song is alright, I guess. Another highlight is "Sitting in the midday sun" - lazy vocals and almost charming melody. It's said to be a rip-off of "Sunny afternoon" but apart from similar moods I can't see any resemblance. And "Demolition" is fine song, supposed to be Flash's aria, I guess.

That's the end of Act 1 (if you don't count single version of "One of the survivors") - rather feeble record taken apart from Act2, if you ask me. Luckily, Kinks had much more time to work on second act so it doesn't share all the flaws of previous record. I mean here, in Act2, band knows what it's trying to achieve so you won't find any unpleasant surprises like "There's a change in the weather". Also Ray cares about melodies and their catchiness - another good point. Plus, the main actttion takes place here that's why you'll find several announcement tracks here, which were made to explain you what's happening at the moment. In fact, first three songs are very good. They are more rocking than all jazzy tunes you've heard so if you dig only classic Kinks, you'll like these songs. Plus, I can't help admitting how wise and funny at the same time the lyrics of "Money talks" are. Unfortunately, after second announcement (where Mr. Black steps in) songs start to draaaag. They become slow and hookless - the only thing that keeps me from dissing them completely is somewhat funny lyrics and their importance in the whole plot. In fact, there's a great bunch of songs, saved only by being important for concept. I think I'll just list good ones - "Mirror of love" is great, Ray delivers cool vocals (with falsetto) and the melody is catchy as hell. "He's evil" shares well placed back vocals and good riff. Broadwayish "Artificial man" is fast and entertaining just as "Flash's dream" and "Flash's confession" (former has interesting structure). And, of course, there's a good closer "Salvation road" (part of which was recycled in Announcements and "Demolition"). I consider it to best only because it leaves a nice feeling after both Acts but actually, there are at least 2 more songs of same quality on whole project. And the bonus tracks consist of "Mirror of love" single with brass instead of piano and previously unreleased "Slum kids [Take 1]", a fine but generic blues jam (from live Preservation show) featuring nice sax solo.

Overall, this project occupies two CDs which means you'll have to shell $20, which it doesn't worth. Better search in used CDs bins if you have such thing. If you can't find it but still eager to have it, well, e-mail me (sergey_jilkin@mail.ru), I'll make you a copy.

Oh, and one more lil' note - the Preservation show was cut to 60 minutes, which means Ray threw away at least 50 minutes of filler. So better try to find a bootleg - it's still a wonder why nobody hasn't released those shows yet. And if you found one, please, write a comment, I'm really interested to know what it is like.

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SOAP OPERA, 1975

Overall Rating: 8*
Best Song: EVERYBODY'S A STAR
Worst Song: NINE TO FIVE

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Wait a minute, wait a minute... Let's count how many concept albums Ray produced before this one. Okay, so if we count 'Face to face' and 'Something else' to be concept then 'Soap opera' appears to be 10th concept album in a row! Let's celebrate an anniversary! Well, don't be afraid - this time the idea is more interesting and easy to understand. A man called Starmaker boasts that he can turn any ordinary person into a star so to prove his point he looks for a simple man (Norman (it's easy to understand why Ray used this name - look, Norman is similar to normal) and changes places with him (don't ask me what happened to Norman). Starmaker takes the burden of being an ordinary man, although, he's still eager to continue his experiment. He has to get up early at seven o'clock, have a simple breakfast and then wait for hours in queues and traffic jams till he gets to work. The workplace isn't an inch better - Starmaker (or should I say Norman) goes nearly mad working fixed time from nine to five so after work he has to hit the bars and day after day he gets addicted to demon alcohol. Then suddenly our hero earns a week of rest and he decides to have a little holiday (don't ask me how 'his' wife let him go) and flies to the seaside hotel where he meets a nice and sweet girl Vanillia. Unfortunately, his romance breaks cause she is married and Starmaker comes home completely exhausted. So exhausted that he's even pleased to start leading a normal life (he starts eating ordinary food and things). After a while Starmaker becomes Norman and vanishes in the crowd of faces... So here's the story - not bad I have to say. Although, you can take it as a story about mid life crisis (and then Starmaker becomes just a fruit of Norman's ill imagination), it's you who decide, but I stick to the first, official, version.

Okay, if I managed to thrill you a bit then please calm down. Musically speaking, this is totally unoriginal album, banal in some places and I don't see any reason why a non-fan should own this record, I'm sure there are far better ways to spend your money. But if you actually bought this baby you won't be disappointed because this time Ray spent much time on polishing songs and making them easily accessible - I have to admit he succeeded since there are almost no boring places (except 'Nine to five') and other tunes, banal as they are, seem to be catchy and rather short so no weak places here. In fact, were all these tunes and some wise tricks invented by Ray, I would have given a very strong 8, but unfourtanetely most of the melodies are stolen. The whole thing starts with 'Everybody's a star' - you might think that seller mixed up Kinks with Who CD. Yeah, opener is just an obvious 'Can't explain' ripoff. Thank God that 'Can't explain' is a great song, so ripoff is good, too. This song is supposed to introduce a Starmaker (were I Mark Prindle, I would have said 'sounds more like crapmaker!'), who was played by Ray during live shows but that's another story (see below). In fact, 'Star' is the only really rocking tune on here (and even it has some female backing vocals and lots of trumpets and tubas) since others are just jazzy, sometimes Broadwayish tunes without any guitar solos (liner notes say that Dave was very angry at his brother because of that and almost quited the group) or just loud guitars at all. 'Ordinary people' is slow but cachy jazz number (I like tone of Ray's voice!). 'Rush our blues' is better, only problem it sounds ripoffed again (maybe from Jerry Lee Lewis, who knows what Ray was fond of this time). By the way, it consists of two parts, both are quite strong.

Oh, and then we face a stinker added just to bore you - 'Five to nine'. It's a simple piano ballad trying to produce the effect of 'Sitting in my hotel' but all in vain - its message seems to be childish compared to 'Sitting in my hotel'. Then goes 'When work is over' ,short song but it's umm... please, someone help me with synonym to word 'cacthy' ... (Oleg: 'FUCKING RULES!!!')... okay, it's short but fucking rules anyway, I say. 'When work is over' slowly flows into 'Have another drink' that borrows a guitar lick from 'Lola' so it's saved. 'Underneath the neon sign' is just great with a bit nostalgic effect, which is Ray Davies so famous for. Also that's the only song that doesn't steal anything and I even enjoy the lyrics, concerning evolution problems. Next comes 'Holiday romance', a well structured song with nice violins and changing tone from low to high vocal but few notes are enough to make a 'deja vu' effect. 'You make it all worthwhile' is another passable jazzy tune... I'm really lost for words to describe mediocre tunes that flood this album, sorry.

My second fave here is 'Ducks on the wall' which is simple by-book rock'n'roll song despising banal tastes of Norman's wife. Got it? A banal song about banal tastes! What a nice idea. 'A face in a crowd' is a cute little ballad which is hard to dig but once you got used to the album's mood you'll like it. As for last track 'You can't stop the music', I consider it to be a song about Ray himself and the situation he was in. Somehow, he knew that album's was going to fail.

On the reissue you can find some bonus tracks. One of them is mono version of 'Everybody's a star' but frankly speaking I just don't understand why they keep on putting mono versions since I have stereo ones on the same CD... Anyway, there are three more tracks, which are live cuts from 'Soap opera' shows and I want to say that at worst they are interesting. Some reviewers (one of them is George Starostin, btw) despise this period when Kinks used to appear on stage all dressed up in fancy clothes and play their roles. Surely, the singing and instrment playing get a bit sloppy (afterall, every member had to act and play/sing, which is difficult) but I just dig the atmosphere of 'theatre' and have no complains. Yeah, and since Ray was the main hero on stage, Dave got a chance to sing lead on some tracks (for example, it's he who is singing 'Ordinary people' with changed lyrics! (or maybe he was just improvising since he couldn't remember the real ones, who knows)).

I know that 'Soap opera' was dissed when it came out and many people still write negative reviews so you may not believe my words and rather high rating I gave it, but I'll just say that if you like jazz and Ray's concept albums in general, you'll like this one as well.

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SCHOOLBOYS IN DISGRACE, 1975

Overall Rating: 6.5*
Best Song: JACK THE IDIOT DUNCE
Worst Song: THE LAST ASSEMBLY

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

This became second Kinks album in year of 75 but I consider it to be a very foolish move since the band had already run out of creative ideas and 'Schoolboys' demonstarate it in full grace... err, disgrace I meant to say. If 'Soap opera' had many redeeming factors (like interesting concept, wisely structured songs and some great moments (most of which were stolen, but I prefer to hear good stolen riffs than own but bad)) 'Shoolboys' has almost nothing to show you. I mean, look, this is short album and if you cut out crap and fat it will become just a maxi single. Couldn't Ray just wait for at least a half year and write some more good songs to fill empty space? And this concept? It looks soooo dovetailed! As Ray said the main theme deals with a little schoolboy. He and his gang were playing tricks on teachers and bugging other children in school. One day he got himself in a big trouble with a naughty girl (YES! THEY HAD SEX!) and was sent to Headmaster who decidedto disgrace boy and his gang in front of the whole school. After the punishment the boy turned into a hard and bitter character. Soon he grew up into.......... MISTER FLASH!!! How about that? Isn't it stupid? I mean, why the hell did Ray decide to write about little Flash after creating 'Preservation' project?!!! I can tell you that Ray totally ran out of gas otherwise, he wouldn't return to past ideas. Anyway, it's recomendable to take this album as a collection of songs about your sweet schooldays so maybe the nostalgia will penetrate you, especially if you finished school this year (it didn't help me, though).

I won't discuss every single song here or it will take to much of your time. I'll just say a few words about highlights. First of all, it's a ballad 'Schooldays', which is about.. uh, schooldays. And though, the melody along with lyrics is rather banal, it still has a little of charm. 'Jack the idiot dunce' is energetic rock'n'roll number (close to 'Rush our blues') with a very catchy chorus, although, it's defenitely unoriginal. Btw, that's the only song which lyrics I like - they are so humurous. This is a number about a idiot dunce who always got low grades and was a laughing-stock but some day at the high school hop he danced moving like his legs with arms had mind of their own and became a star of the school overshadowing all of his friends.

The other highlights include marred by being too long 'Education'. Also it has very childish lyrics and even I can't listen them without blushing ('Black skin, red skin, yellow or white, everybody needs to read and write' is brilliant example). 'The first time we fall in love' is somewhat interesting were some stupid lines thrown out. 'I'm in disgrace' features a stolen riff from 'Everybody's a star'.. err.. sorry 'Can't explain'. And what is most strange Kinks decided to use it twice on same record - 'Hard way' is built on three 'Can't explain' chords, too. Though, I can say that 'Hard way' is enjoyable because of the solo in the middle (heard that guitar sliding from one speaker into another?). Well, that's all about good songs. Others aren't bad of course (maybe except generic 'Last Assembly') but usually I don't have enough strength left to listen them, sorry.

And I want to add that I'm not despising 'Schoolboys' (even though you could think so after a rough introduction paragraph) - afterall, it's the only album dealing with school so it should be treasured. It's just my heart that feels Ray failed to deliver this great schooldays atmosphere. But if you were moved by this pseudo rock-opera, well, feel free to pump the rating up to 7 or even 8 - I don't mind.

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SLEEPWALKER, 1977

Overall Rating: 8*
Best Song: Sleepwalker
Worst Song: Brother

They are back for rock'n'roll and fame.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Hello there, it's midnight here in Moscow and actually I've got to do my chemistry homework but it sucks much so I decided to write a review about a good album made in the 1977, year of punk, which had no punk elements. What a surprise... Heck, I've just noticed that the album is titled "SLEEPWALKER" and this is what I am right now, hee hee...

As many critics claim it to be a return to form and all I can do is to agree this time with the majority. After all, this record was spotted somewhere at the bottom of Top 20 so you may call it a comeback since none albums past "Hillbillies" managed to hit the charts so high.

So are there any serious changes? Certainly, yes! First of all Ray has finally dumped 4 members who played tubas and trumpets so this is sure as hell ain't jazz-rock, then the bassist, John Dalton, left the band, too, although, I don't quite understand this move - the Kinks finally found the way out of their endless concept albums and were going to gain some respect but John said goodbye (what is more strange he quitted band after finishing the album but before its release! Dunno, maybe there were some frictions between him and Ray...) so rest Kinks decided that Andy Pyle would be a good substitute (he plays on 'Mr. Big man' only) but actually they both don't differ much except for one thing - John could handle bass line of 'Here comes a new day' much better.

Next big change is the label. They've finally moved to Arista and all albums recorded there proved to be successful both commercially and artistically. Also I hope that you noticed I didn't start the first paragraph with the description of concept that's why you may actually think there's no concept at all. Heh heh, I fooled ya!!! It's another rock opera and three more will follow the same year! How about that? Well, kidding, of course. Even if it is concept album (although, I doubt this very much) it's incoherent and doesn't tell you a story or at least discuss some problems so this is the official end of concept albums in Kinks catalog (yes, believe it or not, they didn't release any operas since then!). However the booklet (a very stupid one this time (Velvel resissue)) claims this album to be Ray's answer to punk revolution but I say this is blunt untruth - even though the bonus tracks include 'Prince of the punks' single. I mean, heck, this effort resulted in a rock'n'roll album only because mr. Davies realised that the only thing he could do to grab attention was to get back to roots (and after all, he just had to allow Dave some solos since during 'opera-years' he almost forgot this word).

Let's get to songs. Ray's voice perfectly fits the opener - 'Life on a road' (a song about being rock star and troubles you face being one... don't ask, it's not deja vu), which manages to combine ballad with typical Kinkish rock'n'roll. To say the truth, I just don't like the lyrics here. Ray has run out of gas somewhere around "SOAP OPERA" but still haven't realised that he actually had a good sense of humor so the lyrics style here is rather generic (it will even become more generic on 'Low budget' but there it will be at least funny). 'Mr. big man' is slow but very enjoyable track especially if you dig this swinging organ like I do. Title track strikes you with, jokes aside, one of the greatest riffs ever written and this solo... What can I say, such trick was already used in 'Hard way' (and will be used in some further songs as well) but I believe that this is where it belongs to. These guitars, changing speakers, sound just in right place. Great!

And now let me produce a big yaaaaaaaawn cause we're heading for a weak and boring 'Brother' (and it's not about Ray or Dave! Hee hee...). Maybe it has some splendid harmonies but I just can't find them because of boredom that is all over the song. I swear I listened this song only two times in my life and that's already enough to make a vomiting reflex. Next goes an almost hit single 'Juke box music' that is praised by booklet by I just don't get the reason - it has simple riff (not bad, though) and ordinary lyrics, but you may love it - it does have some potential, I agree. 'Sleepless night' is decent, too, but still too lightweight. 'Stormy sky', on the contrary, shows the great romantic side of Ray and I bet anything you'll like it cause it refers to the class of songs that grab your health from the very first notes (and it's not joke - I was moved from first seconds). It is also very Harrison influenced, I suppose, Ray was the only person who bought George's "33&1/3" album. 'Full moon' seems to be nice from first listens but it's one of many songs that look like candy but has nothing inside, also that doesn't mean 'Full moon' is bad - nice filler. And I've just got to say some pleasant words towards (that's a rhyme!) 'Life goes on' - a calm optimistic ballad (though, it doesn't reach peaks of 'Celluloid heroes' or 'Shangri-La') about that you shouldn't fall into depression even when life hurts you. Nice lyrics, too, and special bonus for good closer.

Bonus part is really great this time - no live cuts but very decent B-sides, almost all of which rule. 'Prince of the punks' is an absolutely great pun towards our lil' pets (I mean these Sex Pistols, of course), 'Poseur' is good, too, although it tries to steal a riff from 'Sunshine of your love' and 'On the outside' is a Kinks answer to 'Dear Prudence' - great answer, I've gotta admit.

Overall, this is very effective album especially if you buy it after rock operas. Also it managed to start Kinks 'silver age' - a good thing that, unfortunately, didn't last for long cause soon "SLEEPWALKER"s formula soon went thin. But this is very beginning and it's still fresh. Essential record for Kinks lovers, others can ignore it, though.

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MISFITS, 1978

OVERALL RATING: 7.5*
BEST SONG: a tie between Misfits, Father Christmas and Black Messiah
WORST SONG: A rock'n'roll fantasy

A bunch of "Sleepwalker" outtakes?

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Yup, this album nods at "Sleepwalker" and says: "pal, look at my twin" - even the style of title on the cover is similar to the "Sleepwalker"s one.
Obviously, Ray didn't want to come up with another mess-it-all project like "Preservation" after previous album shared quite a success - from now, Kinks will try to establish themselves as unpretentious rockers like Paul McCartney or I don't even know who - anyway, you get my drift. This particular record has less concept than "Sleepwalker", but I'm actually not sure about whether there's a conception or not - if you count that album main idea deals with misfits of our society then there's only two songs that fit this idea - title track and "Out of wardrobe". So well, screw it.
Although, Andy Pyle was already in band for almost two years, we still have a chance to witness John Dalton's bass guitar on "In a foreign land" track, which must be an outtake. I'm not aware of other tracks being written before "Misfits" but that doesn't matter at all since they are all in "Sleepwalker" vein.

We're ready to start track by track analysis, I suppose. Strange enough, the album doesn't kick off with a energetic rock'n'roll or hard number -
today the opener is ballad "Misfits", which surpasses almost every ballad written before - it strikes you with its resonance and seriousness. I don't think it's better than "Celluloid heroes" but I don't think it's an inch worse at the same time. In fact, it alone can persuade you to buy this
album. And what is more strange, it was released as single only in one country - Belgium. The publishers were stupid for sure since they decided to put no less stupid "A rock'n'roll fantasy" instead, but well, let's talk about it later. Next track is "Hay fever" - rather pointless but still
catchy. I would even call it a filler if not this memorable cried by Ray and Dave chorus "I got a HAY FEVER". "Black messiah" (wow! Kinks are doing reggae) is one of the funniest songs ever written by Kinks and it behind its humorous side it contains great a pun towards political correctness, hidden by, well, political correctness itself. The main idea of song is "what if the God is black"? I remember I used to ask my mom this question and she only laughed... Heh heh... In addition to well written melody and hooks, it delivers you a sweet Ray's voice which never sounded so gracious, switching from one tone and timbre to another. Though, wait, I'll have to correct myself - it never sounded so gracious later.

Judging by first three songs you could think that album is near to great, but wait, I'll have to upset you - there's a big stinker, which suddenly
became a moderate hit. Although, it's good that it became a hit - this only means that people were eager to get Kinks back. Song's message (song itself was written after Elvis' death, which means it's another outtake) is that music will always help you to surpass your troubles. Well, it's true of course, but that's a well known fact - why the hell Ray decided to write about such banality is beyond me. Nevertheless song was chosen to become main single (maybe Ray thought people were still shocked by Elvis' death in the middle of 78?). Already mentioned before "In a foreign land" comes next. It's a good filler song, as I call such songs, - fairly well written hook, troubles-with-taxes lyrics and borrowed "la-la-la"s are entertaining but not enough to make the song stand out. "Permanent waves" written about the benefits of new haircut (and the same year Ray changed his hair style!), is enjoyable (with a memorable guitar licks) and funny. "Live life" is hard (predicting "Low budget"?) and too straightforward with banal lyrics ("You gotta live life" line is repeated so many times that you'll start to hate it soon) but I still like the riff and Dave's distorted guitar. "Out of the wardrobe" continues "Lola"'s message - a cute song (don't get me wrong!!! I mean melodically cute!) about transsexuality, while "Trust your heart" rules. It's written by Dave and thus his lead vocal is hurting the song a bit but anyway, the chorus is near to fantastic and guitars are also well placed. You know, Dave Davies' songs are all around hooks - the main melody isn't big shake but when it comes to chorus you'll be quite satisfied. The whole original album for 40+ minutes ends with optimistic "Get up". It's not bad, but that's all I can say about it.

Those who don't own Velvel reissue lose a wonderful single "Father Christmas", and even though it's the only new track presented in bonus section I still recommend you to buy the reissue. So as far as mentioned above song is concerned, it's very resonant despite the fact it's fast and somewhat hard. I like almost every bit of it, except the part, where Ray sings "But remember about the kids who got nothing while you drink down your wine" - too straightforward. But the rest of the song is wonderful - I'm ready to cry every time I hear "Father Christmas, give us some money, don't mess around with your silly toys" or "Give my father a job cause he needs one". And no need to say it's all done in classic Kinks style. Great, I say.

So you gotta dig this one if you like "Sleepwalker", others should stay away or try to find "Misfits" on some compilation.

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ONE FOR THE ROAD, 1980

Overall Rating: 6*
Best Song: Celluloid heroes
Worst Song: who knows, they butcher many splendid classics. "Till the end of the day" is one of them.

Don't be fooled by the song selection - some performances are just horrible.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Hmmm... You know, I looked into the booklet and noticed that this CD is a live compilation. Damn! I want full Kinks concert, don't they understand it? So, considering that "LIVE AT BBC" along with "TO THE BONE" are live compilations, too, this leaves poor me with only one truly live album - "LIVE AT KELVIN HALL". Also, some overdubs have been made so this isn't exactly a live album (although, I can only imagine what it could have been without corrections...). Anyway, to hell with it - let's analyse the album.

First of all, it was released after "LOW BUDGET" so there is lot of songs from that record - 6 to be more accurate. Sure I'm not against this but it penetrates the whole record with "LOW BUDGET" atmosphere and mood, rather punkish one. That's alright when Ray sings recent songs but when it comes to classics they are a) played on much faster speed (which isn't necessarily bad, of course), b) overmetallised (which is necessarily bad if we are talking about classics) and c) ruined by very rough and shouting vocal. Also, I don't know what Ray takes himself for. After "LOW BUDGET" went gold, Ray lost his head and started getting too pretentious, throwing his previous humble attitude aside. So he allows himslef to do whatever he wants - roar with stupid voice and make audience sing along and clap their hands when people don't really want to. So your favourite "Lola" is transformed into almost disco number with BIG drums and LOUD voice. Also, Ray sometimes goes off key and this hurts ears, too.

Okay, let me just say few words about horrible tracks and then let's get to good ones (believe it or not but they exist). "Till the end of the day" sounds like Ray was obliged to play it but didn't want to. And I just can't forgive Dave that he didn't protest about cutting the first chords, which actually were the best part of song. "20th century man" shares the part of "Where have all the good times gone" - both get ruined by being overmetallised. That would be okay if songs were angry, but look, they were made to be humble! And now everything's gone - even Ray's voice doesn't sound calm ... er, have I already told you? "Hard way" and "National health" sound just pathetic because of the lyrics which just weren't supposed to be sung with such voice. "You really got me" is too heavy for my ears and this solo, quoting Oleg, "sucks". I mean, do you remember original very enegetic one-string solo? Yes? Forget it then - here we're facing totally dumb hard solo which sounds really messy. "Victoria" is sung like Ray couldn't remember what the lyrics were about - he makes no pauses and 'speaks' (yeah, not sings) lyrics too fast. "David Watts" shares the misfortune of "Victoria", too, and these beloved by everyone naive 'fa-fa-fa-faa-fa-Fa-fa-fa's here sound dumb and off-key. Eh, that was harsh.

But there are some decent songs as well, which were just impossible to ruin. As I said, recent tunes are okay so you don't have me complaining about funny "Low budget", with some new lyrics added, and "I wish I could fly like superman" which is cool, too. Also originally fast numbers like "Pressure" and "Attitude" are also done well but both are pretty forgetable. "Prince of the punks" is one of the best songs here so you gotta like it - even our fellows Kinks do enjoy playinnng it . "Catch me now I'm falling" somehow made it to the concert, too, but I don't understand why Kinks chose to perform so obviously stolen song in front of thousand people, who actually seem to enjoy "Jumping Jack Flash" riff more than chorus part. Heh, Ray could just play 'Jack Flash' instead of 'Catch me now'. But the real jems on this half bad half good album are two marvelous ballads - "Misfits" and "Celluloid heroes". I don't know how but while singing them Ray managed to gain some energy from past days so both are done in excellent way - spirit of old days sure was flying somewhere around, I swear.

If you're still eager to buy this album try to find it without enchaced CD that has not very long live footage (thank God, none of these cuts made it to album) capturing Kinks at their worst live period - Ray strips on stage during "Low budget", runs like a rabbit all over the stage while Dave has to step into the light (but I'm sure he doesn't want) to make a crappy "You really got me" solo and so on - bad surprises end only when the show is over.

Nearly forgot to say - this album went gold. No comments here - better add yours.

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GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT, but only in 1981

Overall Rating: 6.5*
Best Song: Better things
Worst Song: Back to front

Kinks sell out! At last!

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Oh, yeah, they did give people what they (people, of course) wanted. Seems that Ray was delighted about the fact that "ONE FOR THE ROAD" went gold and decide to make another 'gold' disc. Well, he succeeded - "GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT" resulted into a gold album, third in a row. Fuck th@t! Oh, I meant f@ck that, of course, I hope you got it.

This time our dear friends thought that people would buy a record filled with loud guitars that sound like a mess. Maybe, I dunno. Unfortunately, I don't know much hard rock so I can't tell bad from good one but one thing I believe in - it's a too easy way for mr. Davies. Also what is he trying to prove? The fact that he was the father of hard rock? I don't know. I suppose this record was forced out, but that is just me. More, the band tries to sound modern and this factor sometimes kills rather good songs as "Destroyer" (a rewrite of "All day and all of the night"). Many songs on here do have good melodies (like "A little of abuse" and title track) but explain me, please, why did Kinks have to cover them with distorted guitars and pointless loud drums (take "Back to front" for instance!), which overshadow piano and vocals (it hurts "Better things" a bit, btw).

Sorry, I feel tired. I mean, I didn't feel so before starting the review but now I'm yawning. Maybe if you yawn with me we'll have more fun? Okay, put "GIVE THE PEOPLE" cd into player and choose, say, "Around the dial". Well, ready? Let's start on four.... FOUR!!! Yaaaaawn, yaaaaawn, yaaaaaaawn... Hmmm... that doesn't make any sense. See, the song is so boring that even if you yawn while listening it, it doesn't get any better! I hate such songs! What is worse there are a lot of songs that are spreading boredom. I remember that it was my first Kinks album I bought (surely, I don't recomend you to follow my steps) and when I actually decided to listen it, it was already midnight. I put the cd in and took my headphones - you know what? I soon lost any interest and fell asleep. Isn't it wonderful that a hard album can make you sleep? I think that "GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT" should be avialable in every drugstore so that any sleepwalker could buy it and become a normal person. Also it would have been a unlimited grug! Damn, imagine it you pay $14 (and $3 in Russia!) and get a thing that will help you to go to sleep any time of day! Ray Davies was certainly at his best while making this album. I mean best at being a doctor, not musician, unfortunately. Such songs as "Predictable" and "Add it up" show it clearly.

Although, wait! There are some good songs! Title track is funny ("Hey, mama, they want a peice of president's brain!!!" - I was rolling on the floor from this one), "Art lover" has a nostalgic vocal and thus is saved, "Better things" is a charming and optimistic song - almost a classic, a bit marred ballad "Yo-yo" qualifies as good song, too. "Killer's eyes" has a splendid melody which is almost ruined by being too heavy, but with a little touch of immagination you'll like it.

And again, sorry for short review - I'm lost in words about this bland album. Well, actually, I'm lost for, heh heh. Anyway, that made my review a line longer. And another liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine loooooooonger. Well, I've got to stop I suppose. Seriosly, I just don't know what else to say but I hope that you do - so click the link under review and mail me your ideas.... God, I must finish this review somehow.... Guess, I'll jusrt rip-off Oleg: Go and don't buy this album now!

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STATE OF CONFUSION, 1983

Overall Rating: 8*
Best Song: Don't forget to dance or Once a thief on reissue
Worst Song: Definite maybe

A two year break and we see slight improvement in songwriting (and rating!!!).

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

This and next albums fall into quite rare category of great but hard to dig albums. First of all, from the very first notes I nearly dismissed this record as a heavy one. Sure, it's not true - it does have some metal/hard rock elements but if you talk about Deep Purple as of not very hard band then you'll think this album is a poppy one. Also, you might have noticed the obvious resemblance between previous and current album covers - yes, they are very similar but that doesn't mean "State of confusion" is a sequel by any means (I was fooled myself, though). Maybe that is why album didn't sell well.

In fact, this album will turn you off from itself for a few days - it's not very commercial, although it has some polished songs like "Come dancing" (which suddenly became a classic for 80s Kinks) and "Don't forget to dance" which just cry: "Look at us we deserve being ultramegasupadupahits!!!!". I dunno how but soon you'll understand that there are some good songs recycling in your head and a day later you'll dig this album, I swear. Maybe it's all because of stupid set - I think the whole record could have been much better were songs replaced (for example, putting "Definite maybe" in the beginning is an awful shame). And you gotta note that Ray's songwriting and care for melody had improved since "Give the people".

Although, wait there are some places from which you should start your very first listening. Definitely it's "Don't forget to dance" (even though it sounds a bit like "She's a rainbow", these two songs have nothing in common), a charming ballad that nearly managed to grab my health. Course, it doesn't even try to get to the peaks of "Celluloid heroes" or "Misfits" but nevertheless remains a great song. You also may like "Come dancing" that gives you a little but wonderful feeling of "Face to face" - I suppose it was a moderate radio-hit (although, there are better songs, of course, say, "Heart of gold"). Yeah, speaking of "Heart of gold" (not a cover of Neil Young song of same name) , it is perfectly played with all these fine harmonies and hooks that seem to come out from 60s, not 80s. I also like lyrics that are not masterpeice but doesn't sound silly, sissy or pretentious, either.

After few listens I also discovered that ugly sounding from first chords "Young conservatives" had very funny lyrics (and a nod towards David Bowie!) about new generation getting tired of endless culture revolutions and finally deciding to become conservatives. Plus, they sing "fa-fa-fa-Fa-fa-fa-fa-faaa" in the very end of it just like in "David Watts". And, I know, the thing I'll tell you now won't affect your opinion about a song but anyway - I heard it the day when a youth organization supporting our president Putin was making a mass political meeting among thousands of young people. Talking about coincidence... Anyway, you will probably like "Property" with very nice, a bit broken and spoken melody. It also recalls some previous Kinks hits in my memory, although, I don't quite know which (I believe it's a special Kinks feature - remind you of cool songs without ripoffing them).

"Bernadette" will make you think it's a heavy cover of "Lucile", sung this time by Dave and Ray (and nice vocal does he have!). I have nothing against it, of course, but it's pure jolly filler. Speaking of which (filler, I mean), I would like to admit that guys suddenly understood that fast filler is better than slow one so here you get "Definite maybe" and "Labour of love", which tries to climb from the status of filler but awful intro kills all the chances (first thirty seconds are filled with horrible distorted guitar, which later gets covered by drums and vocals, fortunately). "Cliches of world (B movie)" has nothing to offer you except cool name (the song itself is about a banal life as you might have guessed). Oh, and feels like I forgot to say a word about title track - I like it - it has cool riff and fine harmonies with hooks so count me happy, OK?

So these were the songs issued on original disc but don't forget that we're talking about good old Velvel that usually adds really good bonus tracks (and not just extended versions and such kind of things). Guys succeeded this time, too. Two of the tracks were never released (another mix of "Don't forget to dance" and "Once a thief") and two were B-sides or available only on cassettes (strange, eh?), I don't remember which. And, yes, I know, my choice for best song is rather doubtful but you have to understand me - I heard this song in my first form at school and this catchy chorus nearly knocked me off feet from the very first listen. Certainly, I understand that it doesn't even sound close to the really catchy songs like "Lola" or "Sunny afternoon" but compared to most of 80s stuff, it's a classic. Or a jem, I don't care how you call it. "Long distance" is also good, unfortunately too sweet chorus and bland lyrics mar it a little. "Noise" is a noisy song about noise (message of this phrase is nearing zero, isn't it?), cool riff saves the day, though.

Generally speaking - this is a must for Kinks fan, others are welcome, too. Please, be sure to grab Velvel reissue and listen to it at least five times - I hope you'll dig it just like me.

PS. I would like to thank Ian Gibbons for a perfect piano work - he didn't have any keyboard solos but managed to deliver a cool background - songs lose much without it.

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WORD OF MOUTH, 1984

Overall Rating: 8.5*
Best Song: Do it again
Worst Song: Word of mouth

They go back without losing modern sound.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Whoo-wheee! As I already said in previous review this is hard to like album but once you discover the melodies, you can't get 'em out your head. And what more, this records is full of little surprises, some obvious, some not. From now, Ray will include small tributes to other bands (like Who or Beatles) in some songs on every record! Maybe this move was made because of many insults on Ray that claimed him to be ripoffing too many songs. So here Ray just plays with you - surely he doesn't borrow interesting moments to drag your attention to his own composition - it's just a joke.

The very first track, "Do it again", strikes you with the chord taken from "Hard day's night" - do you remember it? wwwzzzCHIIING!!!! And right then Dave starts imitating synth riff from "Won't get fooled again" on his guitar. As for song itself, its main riff is built on "Can't explain" chords and sounds very similar but I still wouldn't call it a rip-off. But then again, who knows? Anyway, hands down, this is best song on whole album - I like two well crafted and polished solos, the guitar assault on your ears doesn't sound heavy at all, too and the lyrics are fine (at least I don't blush while singing alone). Unfortunately, this song (due to some stupid publishers) failed to hit the charts, although it was one of most played singles in year of 1984. Also I hope you noticed the change in band - Mick Avory (drrrumer) quit the band (he couldn't make it up with Ray and Dave, I suppose) and was replaced by ex-Argent Bob Henrit. I still think that Mick unquestionably was one of Kinks symbols and his quitting has even affected Dave's relationship with Ray - afterall, "State of confusion" tour has been cancelled without being started. As for newbie Bob, he certainly is a good drummer and given the fact that he worked together with Kinks bassist in same band, the whole picture gets bright.

OK, back to record... Ray remembered to write some good ballads like "Good day" and "Missing persons". The former is a splendid example of going back to roots and caring of modern sound at the same time. And, by the way, you should have noticed the reference to Beatles' "Good morning" (or "Good day sunshine"?) but when the Beatles used a crying rooster in the very beginning, Kinks decided to go with a beeper. Heh, funny... But speaking about the song, it has harmonica! Please, tell me who, apart from Bob Dylan, used harmonica in 80s. Yeah, I don't know, too. More, in the very end of "Good day" you might hear ringing bells, taken from "Big black smoke" coda this time. And as for "Good day", it warms you with smooth melody and very heartfelt lyrics about 40 year old man who has almost nothing in life except boredom ("And now survival is my only aim/ I call friends and see if any remain/ Who was that girl who used to be my flame/ I'd call her if I could remember her name") - this is depressing. "Missing persons" seems to lack memorable melody and good lyrics so I consider it to be filler. Well, enjoyable filler, I'd correct myself. And, speaking about ballads, Dave Davies (does anybody know his name?) wrote a nice "Living on a thin line". It's sung by Ray this time because Dave thought he wouldn't cope with such vocal (I think so too). Okay, so its message is somewhat sissy for my tastes but I like keyboards' licks in chorus. And if we started talking about Dave, he sings his own 'Guilty' but that's another story.

Apart from hard'n'crap called "Word of mouth" (yeah, that's a title track - I actually hate when title track is bad), there are four (!) social comments - "Sold me out", "Massive reductions", "Guilty" and "Too hot". Every one of them is fast rocker (which is surely understandable) and some even have funny lyrics - I actually like the fact that guys don't take themselves seriously. "Sold me out" offers you a cool and catchy chorus, "Massive reductions" gets pleasant guitar work from Dave and some wisely placed synths and "Hey!" shouts, "Guilty" is somewhat insipid if you ask me but I like how melody breaks before catchy chorus and "Too hot" makes me smile (it's about frictions) cause it even has a link to "Arthur" - "Arthur's on the picket line winding up the nation". Plus, some horns from "Come dancing" are added here, too!

Please, don't forget about great closing tracks - "Summer's gone" and "Going solo". While the latter is similar to "She's leaving home" (I mean its message, of course) and features a memorable melody, "Summer's gone" is a classic, although almost noone seems to admit it. I consider it to be a confession of a man who has gone through mid life crisis. Ray should have called it "Life's gone". Don't pass this song, for God's sake.

Bonus tracks are presenting two pointless extended mixes of "Summer's gone" and "Good day". 'Nuf said.

So if you decided to collect only essential Kinks records - get this one - after all, I could have called it best record in 70s-90s Kinks era were there no "Muswell hillbilles".

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LOST AND FOUND, 1986-89

OVERALL RATING: 8*
BEST SONG: The Road
WORST SONG: Living on a thin line

For those who think they miss great songs from 86-89 epoch.

Written by Sergey Zhikin

Damn, every time I think I've finished my Kinks' reviews, another Kinks' record emerges in Moscow best legal record store called "Purple legion"
(guys, I guess you owe me some money for advert, eh?). This time it was this compilation. Generally, I don't accept compilations when they don't
present any new tracks (and this one doesn't) but now it's different case - see, this is a late years compilation, picking up tracks from "UK Jive"
(1989), "Think visual" (1986) and live "The Road" (1988) only. Three mentioned above records are the only Kinks official LPs missing from my
collection (except doubtful and out of print release "Great lost Kinks album"). The fact that these albums are usually despised kept me from buying
them (for $15 each) so I was very glad to grab this "Lost and found" compilation for rather moderate price.

8 tracks are the cream from two studio albums - in fact, I doubt that compilers could pack it up any better - from these tracks (although, none of
them is bad) I can easily see the Kinks were rolling down on huge speed so there were only about 3-4 good songs on every album they released in that
epoch and all these goodies were taken here. Plus, there are 4 cuts from their live album, most of which are performed well, except "Living on a thin
line" but let me explain it later. The whole compilation clocks in 50 minutes which means they had enough space to place some more (at least two)
live performances. But, well, I can forgive them, let's move to the discussing the songs, okay?

The album starts off with live "The Road" and that's a great opener - surely a classic for 80s Kinks. If you remember ten years ago Ray used to sing
"I'm bound for the life on the road, gimme life on a road" leaving some optimistic feeling but this "Road" makes you think that Kinks will go and
disband after finishing the song, really, it's that sad. Also it's well built in musical sense - it starts like a bland ballad and then picks up some
steam turning into fast (but stripped) rock'n'roll number - I love it. Yeah, and I forgot to say the lyrics contain references to Jimi Hendrix,
Rolling Stones, Who and others, and if you look a bit closer, you'll realise that this is a list of artists that they used to rip off. Speaking about
rip-offs, next track doesn't even want to hide the fact it's built on "My generation" bridge (I mean "Talking 'bout my generation" lines) and the
guys seem to accent they copy Who by performing the same coda as in "MG". Well, it's funny at least, despite the fact that lyrics are nothing but
dumb ("You'll get OK / You'll get OK / Doing that UK jive"). "Lost and found" follows the formula "so-so lyrics and so-so melody with some moments"
and results into passable ballad that can draw your attention only when you're not feeling well. "Working at the factory" has some memorable hooks in
the chorus part but still that's not enough to count it very good. Title track from "Think visual" album is more memorable than previous one so I
consider it to be a highlight. Fake blues number "Welcome to sleazy town" is also good. Other studio tracks are no slouches, either - every one has
something memorable around it (like verse melody or chorus).

Last three songs are from Philadelphia show, 1987. As far as I know, Kinks live concerts at that time didn't contain any evergreens so you won't hear
your favorite "You really got me" and "All day and all of the night" but I think it's only for better since you probably know how the Kinks played
their old hits from "One for the road", although I wouldn't be against some "Sleepwalker" songs, which I've never heard played live. The only oldie
featured is "Apeman" (and you can hear how the audience greets it with incredible screams I've heard only on "Live at Kelvin Hall", I suppose they
were tired from the set list containing only new songs). Unfortunately, it finishes after 2 minutes but still I think it's a big highlight, although
a bit disappointing. However, the main disappointment is "Living on a thin line", in the end of which Ray goes completely off key and it ruins the
whole song. "Give the people what they want" is funny and well played - no claims here.

Even though, there's only one excellent song by Kinks standards ("The Road") I still give this compilation a rather high rating because it, unlike so
many other compilations, saves your money - I doubt you'll run and grab "UK jive" and "Think visual" after hearing this selection. So if you think
your collection miss some good songs from 86-89 years be sure to get this one, it's not bad, really, but in case you strongly claim that Kinks
started to suck in 80s, save your money for better things. Oh, and I'd like to add a little note - a killer decade didn't destroy Kinks as it did
with Rolling Stones, Who, ex-Beatles and other old artists. I mean, yes, 80s Kinks are nothing compared with 60s Kinks, but at the same time Ray
still had enough talent to write more or less decent songs and wise enough to stay away from disco. Good boy.

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PHOBIA of 1993

Overall Rating: 4*
Best Song: Somebody stole my car
Worst Song: Please don't torment me... pleeeease...Nooooo!...Alright, alright, I'll say the truth - it's "Don't"!!

Guys, I don't really believe in stories that say you're hard-rock fathers...

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Something had happened. Actually, I've never heard "UK Jive" or "Think Visual" (which are usually said to be painfully bad) so I can't tell whether there was a sudden decline or not. But one thing I can tell you for sure - this is the worst Kinks album I've heard so far. And it's not because Ray created something atrocious - no, actually some songs are good. But tell me why the hell did he need to occupy 70+ minutes of CD?!! It's year of 93 for Christsake! Did he really feel enough power to write 15 songs without filler? I swear the whole record could have looked better were there only ten songs making its length up to 40 minutes. And you know what? If you sweep half of "Phobia", you'll get a short but good album. Oh, and I forgot to say that this is the heaviest Kinks album - seems like Ray wanted to rub his ass against guitar, too. Or prove that he invented hard-rock?

So why is it bad? There are just no interesting (not speaking about catchy) melodies. NO! Do you hear it? No decent melodies - some songs are just redeemed by cheap second class rifs and funny lyrics. Also, the songs are long, compared to Kinks standarts, and what's worse they are dull - even Ray's used-to-be-charming voice can't save the day. And there's one more thing I feel about "Phobia" - almost all its song could have sounded tolerable were they put between good songs - but my opinion of them is marred by the fact that all of them are filler, sometimes nice, but mostly not.

I'll just mention good tracks and to hell with bad ones. First of all - "Somebody stole my car" stands out because of its level of energy. And there's a nod towards Beatles at the very end - "Beep-beep, beep-beep YEAH!!!". I also like humoruos although sometimes stupid lyrics. "Hatred" is too long but it's saved from "shit" status by being played fast (believe me, others are mid tempo or slower). Yeah, and speaking about shit, "Don't" is rare shit. Actually, I like when shit is rare - just imagine what would happen were it frequent... Sorry, I promised not to talk about bad songs, I know... Well then, "Scattered" is a simple acoustic ballad. It's not bad so I mentioned it but frankly speaking there's nothing be gay about. If you want, count title track as a highlight, too. What else? I don't know. I really don't know. And I don't suppose you would like to know it. I don't even think you will buy this horrible album unless someone offers you $1000 for listening to it five times in a row. In fact, I myself bought this album only to make a step in collecting all Kinks albums. Also, I found it accidently in a box of euro dance muzak and it was cheap so I decided to give a try. But, please, don't you buy it for more then two bucks. After all, if you won't buy 10 "Phobia"s you'll save $20. Think about it.

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LIVE AT BBC, 199?

Overall Rating: 8*
Best Song: Love till the sun shines
Worst Song: Ooh, hard to tell, must be some slow track from first disc. Maybe "This strange effect".

Live at BBC.

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

Every cool 60s band needs a live at BBC album, especially when it's obvious that the band is dead (I suppose this set was released somewhere in the mid 90s). BBC engineers do their work fine as usual , of course that's why you won't find a single scratch or sound defect. Also these guys record everything that goes in the studio so in addition to great songs set you also get some dialogs between interviewer (with perfect English BBC accent) and Ray (occasionally Dave) which are not funny or extra interesting but nevertheless help passing time. Anyway, these features don't go beyond "cute", the main surprise, however, is the songs that are played different compared to originals. But please, don't get me wrong - when I say "different", I mean "a bit different" certainly - don't expect any blues alternate takes on "You really got me" - I just want to say that some songs are played faster and most of the time Dave adds cool crisp guitars, making the 3854-th listening of "You really got me" a bit easier. Yeah, and this is classic BBC album - if you don't get it, I'll explain it this way - you'll have to shell out twice more money since, yeah, it's a double album, lasting for 110 minutes (out of possible 160 - it's you who decide whether it's alright or not (I think not - surely, they had more material)).

The first disc focuses mainly on their 64-68 epoch, which means you'll have to hear many raw sounding early compositions along with tuneful brit-pop hits (somehow, no songs from "Face to face" made it here) but that's alright since there're not many classics (no "Sunny afternoon", "Dead end street", "David Watts", "Picture book" and blah blah blah...) - somehow, this album managed to become not hit-orientated (that's why there's no "Lola" or any song from Arthur). But when it comes to classic you'll be surprised to discover they are changed a bit. For example, "VGPS" has some marvelous piano in the background and the vocals are also neat. In fact, this version is so nice that it keeps me wondering why the hell didn't they use piano on studio recording? And the same can be said to "Waterloo sunset" - this take isn't better than one on "Something else" by any means but if you listen to it carefully, you'll understand that Dave accurately hits some crrrunchy guitar chords and they sound just in place. And I also like "Days", which sound close to regular version but still there's something inside me that tells me it's better than actual single.

As for main highlight, it's, hands down, "Love me till the sun shines". You certainly remember it as a slow rocker (or fast ballad - take what you like more) with Dave's sloppy vocal. And now refresh you memory - here it is a cool rocker which demonstrates Kinks drummer at full strength and Dave is no slouch either. Just think about it - this take was recorded before release of "Something else" album! Why they preferred slow variant is still a mystery to me...

And those who are obsessed with collecting every rare Kinks song (like me!) will be very pleased with "Mindless child of motherhood" (one of best melodies Dave Davies has ever written), very early "Good luck charm" (although, it might have been on their US debut - don't blame me then, it's very hard to keep all these things in one poor head), humble social comment "Did you see his name" and "When I turn off the living room light". Everyone of them is rather decent and hooky so you'll have some fun listening to these tracks. Plus, there's early covers like "Cadillac" and "Milk cow blues", the latter of which is inferior to its companion on "Kontraversy" cause here Dave didn't cope well with the solo that was the main attractive part of "Milk cow blues" for me. And there a lot of other songs, of course but I don't want to discuss them since they are either of the same quality as their LP twins or inferior so you get my drift. Oh, I just thought I'll praise "Where have all the good times gone" (it's better mixed - Ray's voice doesn't sink in instruments now) and "Death of the clown" where these catchy "La-la-la-la"s are put into the background so this gives you some strange but nice feeling.

Second disc, however, is even shorter and has some boring moments like "Money talks" and "Skin and bone" (remember, I'm not a huge fan of this song... any flames?). For some strange reason BBC dudes decided to include totally bland song called "Demolition", taken off "Preservation Act 1". I mean, the song isn't atrocious or horrible but it doesn't fit with the general mood. But if you are huge fan of "Preservation" story, you'll like this take, too. As for mentioned "Money talks" and "S&B", I don't quite understand why there're two variants of both songs. Okay, so the first time they appear on lil' BBC gig (see below) but tell me why to include obviously inferior versions of these songs on same disc! I wish they could find some other songs in their archive (come on, guys! you could find some more unreleased stuff). But to hell with it, since there's a nice BBC live show with some audience and it's great (I mean show, not audience). Its main flaw is length and I suppose that the show itself is cut a bit; nevertheless band itself is having wonderful time which is a great plus of course. For example, the gig kicks off with "Here comes yet another day" where every Kink (and remember, there are 8 Kinks on stage) does a little solo towards the end on his instrument (even Mick Avory takes part!). "Victoria" as well as "Celluloid heroes" is performed perfectly. I know, you probably will start despising "Get back in the line" which is two times slower than original as I did but now I've changed my mind completely - can't you see how beautiful is it? And did you notice that the main melody is held by organ only and Ray touches strings of his guitar just sometimes? Well, I let myself sink in its atmosphere and you know what? The song seems to ultra-excellent to me now. Oh, and there's also a cool medley "Skin & bone/ Dry bones" (the second part probably is a traditional duty but it fits Ray's "Bones" anyway). Plus, Ray promotes two main numbers off "Preservation Act 2" - "Money talks" and "Mirror of love". Both are cute, that's for sure, but don't beat their originals so count them just pleasant filler.

Outro: so if you decided to buy some live Kinks, don't forget this fresh "live in studio" compilation. But that's only in case you want to buy several live albums. If you're short on cash, better rush to your favorite CD store and grab...............

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TO THE BONE, 1996

Overall Rating: 9*
Best Song: Apeman
Worst Song: it's like defining worst song on "best of" compilation.

Ray throws his foolish pride aside and becomes a hillbilly again. Yipeee!

Written by Sergey Zhilkin

.......yeah, run and grab this. If you were looking for Kinks best live album, here you are. In fact, this is also "best of" set so if you want to get only one album that would represent you Kinks career from the very early years up to nowdays, your choice should fall upon this album as well. And in case you are afraid of spending your worthy money, I tell that I've never heard a bad comment about this release, not a single one - actually, I'm left wondering are there any people who dislike this album.

But let's move to the album itself. I don't really know how come that Ray managed to keep your attention all the way through the album but, well, it is so - you won't be bored even for a minute, I swear. Maybe it's all because of the stories that Ray tells you before playing some songs, maybe because of small surprises that songs contain or maybe it's just the atmosphere that is all around the studio. Oh, in case you don't know, most of the tracks are recorded in studio with a little audience (the only exception is "All day and all of the night" which is done before a one or two hundred people). And what is more pleasant - all the people around don't give a cry of joy every time Ray starts another hit.

I guess, the whole album was compiled of six or even seven different shows. My favourite is the one with redone "Apeman". And by "redone" I don't mean its transformation into a heavy metal number or anything of this kind - no, it just has different to original's mood, a very funny one I have to admit. Also Ray plays a swinging accordion and that makes me smile. Also intonation he use while singing is pretty touching. Plus, I really love the moment when Ray inserts hilarious "prum-prum" making the song totally ass-kicking. Then there's a wonderful "Muswell hillbillies" the first minute of which is occupied by mr. Davies' story about the concept of "MH" album (I wonder if what he says is true - do Davies have different fathers?). And his voice sounds just like twenty years ago - check out the album version along with this one and you'll be left wondering which is better. Another highlight is "Death of the clown" where some cool honky-tonk piano is added for the favor and man does this version sound great! I just love every moment of it, especially how Dave sings "laa-la-la-laa-la-la-laa" - you gonna dig the moment he switches ttto falsetto. I'm not a big fan of "Tired of waiting for you" and "See my friends" (although both were quite innovative for their time) so these versions do nothing for me, although I suppose that if you liked originals, these cuts would qualify for you.

The fact that there's noone to witness "Better things" and "Don't forget to dance" (yeah, there's no audience at all) doesn't affect the quality of playing at all - both are awesome and, I dare say, better than their LP fellows. No, don't get me wrong, I still like "Better things" from "Give the people" album but here it's just a bit slowed down, piano is wisely replaced by guitar and the drums don't overshadow any instrument so this brings some warm feelings. "Don't forget to dance" is done with resonance, although again I wonder how it happened without any people to witness it. These songs are followed by a little set mostly consisting of Ray only, doing acoustic versions of "Sunny afternoon", "Dedicated follower of fashion" (both feature pretty singalongs) and even "Do it again" while the other Kinks are waiting to burst into yet another "Do it again", where both brothers go mad and play it much faster that they are supposed to but that doesn't matter - song only gets better (yipee! I'm a poet. And I know it. Hope I don't blow it). Unfortunately, that's the end of disc one, running only for 36 minutes and that's a big flaw, of course, I wish they filled it with more material then again, who knows, maybe the rest was crap?

Second disc features more songs and none of them suck. You know, it seems like a 90s band was doing covers of early Kinks - this should suck, eh? Well, if you think so, you can, mmmm.... you.... well, you are completely wrong. Certainly, brit pop numbers lose their charm but at the same time gain cool "modern" sounding solos and other cool effects. First of all, you gotta like "Village green society" where flute parts are replaced by acoustic guitar and that sounds at least interesting. "Picture book" gets real rhythm so there's no wonder I find myself swaying. You'll be surprised by "Do you remember Walter" where Ray slowly plays his accordion to bring the effect of Bavarian song (yeah, that's how he calls the song himself). Then there's a part of lil' gig consisting from eleven songs ("Gallon of gas" standing between them is from other session, though). All of these eleven cuts are filled with energy - yes, even obligatory hits like "You really got me" and "Lola". In fact, you'll get a feeling that Ray wrote both few days before show and eagerly wanted to present them to his audience - yeah, both are done that good. Thus, """Lola" is the best live version you can find (even bootleg versions I've heard were worse) - somehow Ray manages to keep the tension all the way through. What more you'll ask? Well, there are cool performances of "Set me free", "I'm not like everybody else" and "Dead end street". I don't know who is playing piano but anyway he's doing a great job placing keyboards in right places and mentioned above songs prove it. "Give the people what they want" is transformed from a stupid hard rock number into a funny pop song (again, listen carefully to keyboards!). "Till the end of the day" is a bit marred by pointless intro but it's redeemed by guitarwork anyway. "Gallon of gas" is a lot of fun - a blues parody, where Ray and Dave pretend to be typical blues brothers - I like it. "Days" proves that Ray's voice is the best one around (I do think that he's better than Macca or Jagger now). Oh, and at the very end, there are two new songs - "Animal" and title one. They are not classics but it's nice to see that Kinks still have it. And don't ask me what is it better go and listen to this album.

One thing I'm sure - there will be no more Kinks albums (I've read some interviews with Dave and it's obvious that he doesn't want to be in one band with his brother (he even has his own group, sorry Dave aren't you old for these things?)). I have a feeling that Ray and Dave just teamed up for the last time to say goodbye, maybe that's why the record sounds that good - after all, they both knew it was the end. In fact, it's the best way to finish career so save your $20 and buy "To the bone". Oh, you don't have $20? Well, steal your girlfriend's purse or rob your neighbors, I dunno, do what you want but get this album.

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