Other People´s Lives - V2 - 2006
But this is his first "real" solo album, and one of the big questions was if he could live up to the high standards of the many classic Kinks albums released during the last 40 years, without brother Dave's great guitar playing. The short answer to that question is, "Yes!".
On a some tracks a little Dave guitar would have been welcome; and also his characteristic high harmony vocals. But few only Kinks albums have such overall consistent songwriting as this new album. And Ray voice is apparently as strong as ever; I had the opportunity to see him perform here in Denmark last year, and it was a great show with Ray in top-form on all levels; in spite of having just recently recovered from complications concerning his New Orleans assault.
Two songs have already been released as singles in 2005 and they're both outstanding. "The Tourist" is a fine melodic song that has a quite heavy guitar break. "Thanksgiving Day" is "only" included as a hidden track, which is really quite strange, since it may very well be the strongest track of them all - the song shows that Ray's vocals and his songwriting are as good as ever.
The album starts off very effectively with the musically very strong track "The Morning After" - very much Kinks sounding ( Think Visual ). Just as great is "After the Fall" - it's almost like you can hear Dave's voice in the "uuh" choir. Could have been a "Phobia" song. "Next Door Neighbour" is more like a solo-track. Fine 40's style brass accompaniment by the Mike Cotton Sound - a little like "Quiet Life".
"All She Wrote" is new Kinks like energy. Great catchy chorus - a sure live-favourite. One of the very best tracks here. The bluesy "Creatures of Little Faith" is more average ( in Davies standards ). "Run Away From Time" brings back memories from the early 1980's; sounding a lot like a track from the "State of Confusion" sessions.
"Is There Life After Breakfast" brings memories even further back. Both musically and lyrically this could have been a "Muswell Hillbillies" song; with nice slide guitar-playing. "The Getaway" may be a little diffuse, melodically, but it has a beautifully catchy guitar line - played by Ray himself. The title-track is a catchy light melody - with fine additional female vocals.
"The Stand Up Comedian" is a humorous rap-blues thing. The long, almost final ( don't forget "Thanksgiving Day" ) song "Over My Head" is another Kinks sounding track.
Davies has used a lot of different musicians on this which has been recorded over a period of about two years. Guitarist Steve Bolton plays on most tracks and he adds a lot of power to the album. Drummers Dylan Howe and Toby Baron together with bassist Dick Nolan are among other important backing musicians.
The first couple of times I listened to the album I had the feeling that the strongest material had been placed in the first half; but with "The Tourist", "Other People's Lives" and "Thanksgiving Day" this obviously cannot be the case. A highly recommendable album - and as extra bonus there is ( as always ) a lot of wit and humour in Davies' lyrics.