Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So It Ain't "The Village Green."

When was the last time you listened to The Kinks' Present A Soap Opera? Probably not since the first time, when you were gobsmacked by its sheer ridiculousness. But, it's not that bad. As a matter of fact, once you get beyond some truly cringe-inducing moments like "Ordinary People" and "Rush Hour Blues," "Soap Opera" has some fine moments, even if it has the dark cloud of it not really being a true Kinks record.

"Have Another Drink," "You Make It All Worthwhile" and even the silly-but-rocking "Ducks On The Wall" are...dare I say it...classic Ray, if not in the "Something Else" and "Village Green" vein, at least in the....uh..."Soap Opera" vein.

And as an added incentive, it contains "A Face In The Crowd," which I think stands up to any great Ray tune.

Give "A Soap Opera" another chance.



steve simels said...

It made a great stage show. Seriously -- I reviewed it at the time, and if memory serves it was the best multi-media rock thing any band ever did.

Or maybe that was "Schoolboys in Disgrace." I'll have to go through my back issues...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Steve, it was a wonderful live performance.
Not great rock & roll but a great entertaining evening.

"Showbiz" is a decent album. There are better versions of some of the songs on the long out of print album "The Kink's Greatest" which featured Everybody's a Star and Face in the Crowd in their single mix versions.


steve simels said...

Oy gevalt -- just read my review of the album from back in the day. Apparently, I liked "Ordinary People."

Haven't listened to it or the album probably since 1975, so I have no idea if it's as cringe-inducing as Sal said.

Sal Nunziato said...

I don't suppose, Mr. Simels, said review is something you could share.

steve simels said...

Sal, it's one of those pieces that makes me really glad that back issues of Stereo Review from the 70s haven't been digitized.

One or two reasonable insights VS a lot of very bad writing and sophomoric attitude.

William Repsher said...

To answer your question, in its entirety, 1980, and wouldn't be surprised if it was a Pickwick reissue! Most of those early 70s concept albums, I bought in the bargain bin long after the fact. (Preservation Act II, never owned on vinyl as it was deleted for so long ... bought all the Velvel reissues when they came out, although I think II came out on Rhino even before them?)

Soap Opera wasn't horrible ... but what a relief when Sleepwalker came out and it wasn't a concept album! I can still recall how omni-present "Jukebox Music" was on FM radio. But "Face in the Crowd" is surely the best song from Soap Opera, hands down.

Oddly enough, the one album that has aged poorly for me, which was a huge commercial breakthrough at the time, is Low Budget. Just seems lightweight compared to Misfits before, and nowhere near the level of the 80s creative comeback Ray pulled off through Word of Mouth/Return to Waterloo.

Gene Oberto said...

While true talent like the author of these lyrics sits in relative obscurity to all but the pop historians and his dwindling fan base, Ray's social commentary of pop stardom of talent less than he and his peers has become remarkably prescient.

"I can take any man
I see standing in the road
And put rouge on his cheeks
And put some powder on his nose.
I'll teach him how to act,
I'll remould and reshape him.
I'll put him in a stage suit
And I'll teach him how to pose.
I can turn the most ordinary man in the world into a star.
I'm a starmaker (gonna make you a star),
Yes, I'm gonna make you a star (gonna make you a star)
No matter how dull or simple you are
Everybody's a star."

Seems while Ray is touring clubs, Simon Crowell took the words to heart. In this TMZ driven pop culture, Crowell makes millions displaying the "dull and simple".

He should send a royalty to Ray, but fat chance.

Anonymous said...

Good on ya Sal.
Soap Opera is an underrated gem.
The stage show was brilliant as well.