Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Kinks 15: Everybody's In Show-Biz

Ray Davies’ fascination—some might say obsession—with America continued, somewhat on the next Kinks album. This time it was a double, the band’s first, not counting Kronikles. Everybody's In Show-Biz (sometimes with the subtitle Everybody’s A Star, sometimes without) presented two sides of music mostly complaining about the drudgery of touring, and another two recorded at Carnegie Hall during one such recent tour. It’s not an easy listen.
“Here Comes Another Day” would be a decent on its own, but the theme had already been covered in “This Time Tomorrow”. Only three years later the band’s sound has been upgraded with the inclusion of a horn section, although the music is reduced to two chords, it’s still a decent groove. Then it’s off to the drunken music hall sound that dominates the rest of the tracks, beginning with the greasy food litany of “Maximum Consumption”, but at least Dave Davies shows up for some harmonies. “Unreal Reality” begins even slower and drunker; it speeds up, thankfully, but the horns take up the mix. “Hot Potatoes” sees the brothers trading verses from the point of view of someone pointedly not in the jet set beseeching his wife for sweet lovin’ over fancy cookin’. Kill the horns and speed it up, and perhaps we’d have something. “Sitting In My Hotel” returns us to the sad rocker in the stated location, acknowledging just how petty he’s being in the face of things. Frankly, it’s lovely.
He’s back to whining about food on “Motorway”, but you’d think for all the time he’d spent plodding across America he’d’ve picked up that it’s called a highway. Dave gets a song of his own, and while “You Don’t Know My Name” is within the concept of touring, his perspective is refreshing, though we could do without the Canned Heat flute. “Supersonic Rocket Ship” pairs the music of “Apeman” with the getaway dreams of “Holiday In Waikiki” and “I’m On An Island”, then “Look A Little On The Sunny Side” is back to vaudeville, with a tuba holding the bass and a single parade drum providing the percussion. But the listener’s patience is rewarded with the lovely “Celluloid Heroes”, a song that celebrated the fading stars of Hollywood a whole year before “Candle In The Wind”, and an overt admission that Ray fully understands that the illusions of the big screen are just those.
Pairing those songs with a snapshot of a recent gig may be designed to add some conceptual commentary, but mostly it gives the band and their label a chance to double dip into the royalties. Still, for all his neuroses, Ray is quick to give credit to the people onstage beside and behind him. They start energetically with “Top Of The Pops”, and the horns add a new level to “Brainwashed”. But then the drink starts to get to Ray on a bizarre snippet of the show tune “Mr. Wonderful”, which sets up “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoid Blues”, and the rest of the set concentrates on songs from Muswell Hillbillies. There are detours through Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song” (aka “Day-O”) and “Baby Face”, and we’re left with a couple minutes dedicated to the end of “Lola”, mostly sung by the audience.
Being such a long album, the first reissue only had room for two live extras, including a version of “Til The End Of The Day”, which makes the most of the stop-start riff to welcome folks to the show. For the deluxe edition two decades later, a second disc added those plus eleven more live performances—including five alternates from the original album—plus four session outtakes. (Of those, “History” is a nice new discovery, sung straight without irony or horns. “Sophisticated Lady” would emerge on the next album under another title, but here’s it’s a harmless instrumental with guitars.) If anything, the expansion proves that they were still a decent live band. That is, when they weren’t too drunk to play.

The Kinks Everybody's In Show-Biz—Everybody’s A Star (1972)—
1998 Konk CD reissue: same as 1972, plus 2 extra tracks
2016 Legacy Edition: same as 1998, plus 15 extra tracks

3 comments:

  1. 2 1/2..…………..no way, this is KLASSIC KINKS …..Alcohol and Holiday live are masterpieces...………...5 stars.

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  2. The Kinks were a great 60s singles band. Most of their albums are an excercise in tedium.

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  3. I really liked the Kinks in the early to mid 70s. The albums were great and seeing them in concert was a lot of fun. Then came Sleepwalker and the arenas that's when the fun went out.

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