Friday, June 4, 2010

"The Kinks' Latter Day Gems" : THE WEEKEND MIX

My friend John Dunbar feels about The Kinks, the way my mother feels about Paul Sorvino. So I guess I didn't really expect anything but a proactive response from him when I casually tossed off the statement, almost 7 years ago, lamenting, "Ray really lost it in the later years."

Days after my ill-informed remark, I received "Latter Day Gems," a CD proving 13 times, that Ray Davies still had it. I love this CD. It should exist commercially. It should exist in record shops. Record shops should exist. All men are mortal. Socrates was a man. All men are Socrates.

(Sorry, I digress...)

Here is John, who is a fine singer-songwriter himself, with commentary on his wonderful compilation.


(from "U.K. Jive")
One of most power poppy tracks in Kinks history. No one expected that from the boys in 1989.

(from "Did Ya" E.P.)
A stand out track that tips its bowler hat to Sunny Afternoon. It was later added as a bonus track to the Japanese edition of Phobia.

(from "To The Bone")
One of the 2 new studio tracks recorded for an album of live, unplugged versions of Kinks classics put out by the classical label Guardian. There's supposed to be a filmed version of the live sessions at Konk that remains unseen. By me at least.

(from "Kinks:The Singles Collection")

(from "Kinks: The Singles Collection")
Both of these songs come from a bonus disc included on one of those kountless kompilations on Kastle, I mean, Castle. Ray had a book out of short stories at the time titled Waterloo Sunset. Each story was named after, and based on, a Kinks song. The bonus disc was called- "The Songs Of Ray Davies Waterloo Sunset.". It collected all the songs named in the book, including these 2 previously unreleased gems. They're credited as demos, but they sound refreshing compared to the bombastic production of latter day Kinks records.

(from "Phobia")
This is the last track on Phobia (Ray has a tendency to end his albums with real killers). This may be Ray's most underrated song ever, containing lyrics only Ray can conjure up, "Now my life is all scattered, ever since she's been gone, I feel older-I feel fatter, I feel the blues coming on." Check out the brilliant use of the bridge, reversing the order the second time around.

(from "Think Visual")
Ray has always been the master of songs that can even make UFC fighters well up. Supposedly Ray chose a rough take demo vocal for the master. The video shows Ray singing to a dog.

(from "Phobia")
Ray writes the best break-up songs. The song is a tad lengthy, but it's hits the mark.

(from "Phobia")
Could there be a better subject for a Ray and Dave duet? I wonder if he'll add this to his upcoming duets album, Ray and,... hmmmm? Liam Gallagher? Tom Robinson?

(from "Did Ya" E.P.)
Sony insisted that Ray record a cover for their first release on the label.
Ray agreed. He covered this superb Dave Davies composition.

(from "State Of Confusion"
This song was only available on the cassette version of State Of Confusion until the Velvel CD re-issues. The cassette also listed a bonus track called Once A Thief. I bought the cassette and was miffed to learn the song was not on there. Being the young optimist I was at the time, I ended up buying a few cassettes from different shops hoping the song would be on one of them. It eventually appeared on the Velvel CD as well.

(from "Return To Waterloo")
From Ray's directorial debut, Return To Waterloo. Add it to your Netflix queue.

(from "U.K. Jive")
Written in response to the projected ( at the time) EU. You gotta love the pidgin French, Spanish, German, Italian bit in the middle.


Check out John's music HERE, especially his tribute to Brothers Ray & Dave, "The Kunks."


Noam Sane said...

I'm admittedly less familiar with their post-70s output than I should be. This will help. Again, a great post and much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Now this is the kind of mix i can listen to on the way to work everyday!
I hope you can have your buddy John contribute more often, Sal!

Robert Dolcimascola

steve simels said...

Swear to god, I was just working on a post at PowerPop about "Down All the Days."

A song I deeply love, despite the fact that on some level it's Ray in "professional" songwriter mode.

Anyway -- great stuff, and thanks!!!

~*Neon Serpent*~ said...

"Loony Balloon" from 1989's UK Jive, in addition to being an answer to his own "This Time Tomorrow" from 1971, is one of Ray's prettiest later works.

Thanks for these latter-day gems.

Anonymous said...

I thinks this collection of songs proves that if this is the best Kinks songs from the latter Kinks era, then Ray's songwriting and the Kinks' recordings were certainly much weaker then during their peak period earlier.

These latter songs are 'ok' to very good but don't hold up compared to 'B' sides from the mid to late sixties.

Would you rather hear Latter Day Gems or these songs:

Mindless Child of Motherhood
Big Black Smoke
David Watts
She's Got Everything
Berkeley Mews
Skin & Bones
Creeping Jean
Sittin' on My Sofa
I Need You
I'm Not Like Everybody Else
Two Sisters

By the time the Kinks threw in the towel in 1996 I was relieved to not have feel guilty for hating those latter day Kinks albums since there would finally be no more Kinks albums.

Ray's recent solo albums have been far better then the last half dozen Kinks' albums were.

By the way I'm wearing my "God Save the Kinks" T-shirt today so I'm a Kinks lover not a fighter.


Jeff in Denton TX said...

"Better Things" also appears on the CD version of the Arista-era Kinks compilation "Come Dancing With The Kinks 1977-1986" which was where I first heard it.

Big Jim Slade said...

I look forward to checking these out - thanks!
On the subject of Ray losing it in later years, I saw him during the Working Man's Cafe tour (for the first time!) and he introduced songs from the album by saying something like give 'em a shot - I really believe in these songs. That sounded cliche to me, but I really like the album - pleasantly surprised. Is it Arthur or Lola or VGPS? No, but I like it just the same.

Keep up the good fight, Sal.

Sal Nunziato said...

This collection really wasn't compiled as an alternative to anything, ROTP.

I do think these songs are a lot better than "ok to very good," but the compilation was never intended to prove Ray got better with age, just that he didn't "lose it."

Would I rather listen to "Latter Day Gems" than a CD of the songs you mentioned? least once in a while.

jeff said...

I like these songs a lot, so thanks, Sal, but I guess one way to look at it would be akin to a batting average with the number of great songs/the number written. Back in the mid '60s, Davies' songwriting was hitting like Roberto Clemente, but by the 90s, it was more like Bobby Bonilla.

Sal Nunziato said...

Yeah, but again, I wasn't comparing. I wasn't saying he was as good now as he was then. The compilation is called "Latter Day Gems." It could have had 4 songs on it and it would still be true.

Nick Brent said...

Sal, thanks for these great songs, which are a mix of both released and unreleased tracks from the Kinks' rock era which represents their last nine albums. I like this part of their career at least as much as their earlier and middle segments and I'm delighted to get the "missing" tracks which are just as good as the songs that made the official CDs. If John can come up with something that includes "The Road", "It - I Wanted It", "To The Bone" and "Postcard From London" I will be delighted.