Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's very hard to please the people every single time

Neither trend setters nor trend followers, the Kinks marched to their own drummer, at least up until the late 70s. As is the case with bands that have lengthy careers, changes in musical styles and structure affect fans differently. Beginning in 1972 the Kinks entered a period that would soon evolve into a series of musical theater pieces. The album that fills the gap between that future and what came before is Everybody's In Show-Biz. At the time of its release I was very fond of this record and the song from it that became a staple of progressive FM radio - Celluloid Heroes.

Over the years my initial feelings began to wane as I found myself pulled back to their 1960s output. After listening to this album today for the first time in a long spell I wish I could say that it stirred those good old memories. It pains me to say that it just does not pull me in. It is not the "poor me, being a rock star is so hard" sentiments expressed in the lyrics. I would easily grant Ray Davies his right to wail and moan if only the songs themselves carried the melodic invention that he so amply demonstrated heretofore. Muswell was a bit shy on the melody front but more than made up for it with its crisp country arrangements and biting lyrics. For the two songs here that actually have wonderful melodies, one has lyrics so clumsy that I find myself cringing.

On the other hand the second disk is quite a fun listen. A chance for the boys to bring their boozy on-stage persona to vinyl for some wonderfully sloppy live performances of tunes taken mostly from the previous year's Muswell Hillbillies.

Luckily for today's post there is one studio song here that is more than worthy of repeated listening. Sitting in My Hotel finds Ray in a reflective mood, musing about what his friends might think of his present situation. He is in a funk, treading water. One gets the feeling that he knows he has to find a way to move forward, but he is unsure of himself. When assuming the viewpoint of his friends he cast doubts over everything from his haute couture to feeding his insomnia by watching old movies on TV all night long. His self deprecating humor here is really quite touching, and the tune is one of his lovliest creations.


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

They would see me in my hotel, watching late shows 'til the morning, writing songs for old time vaudeville reviews -- all my friends would ask me what it’s all leading to? It’s a truly great song & this post reminds me I need to get a digital version! I haven’t listened to this LP since my turntable stopped working, so long ago that if you were to ask me before reading your post, “Quick! Name one song from Everybody’s in Showbiz! I know all that I would have come up with would’ve been Fat Flabby Annie (post-diet, she’s so skinny you can’t see her walk by!) & Oh Dee-mon Alcohol … in other words, I guess, I effortlessly remembered the great sloppy drinking songs & to my embarrassment forgot about the studio disc!

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Vauldville revues! :-)

Holly A Hughes said...

Oh, Mr P, and this is one of my very favorite albums. :( I can't tell you often I sing "Motorway" while I'm driving, or "Here Comes Another Day" when I drag myself out of bed in the morning. And when a waiter asks me what I want in a restaurant, I'm always tempted to reply "I'll have some clam chowder followed by beefsteak on rye..."

But that's the great thing about being a Kinks fan; there are so many fantastic albums, all Kinks fans can find different albums to be their favorites.