Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Kinks 24: Low Budget

The spirit and aggression of the punk scene seemingly invigorated rather than scared Ray Davies. With Low Budget, he concocted a set of mostly guitar-oriented songs loaded with hooks, just like the label wanted. There was no concept per se, but certain themes dominated.
“Attitude” sports a riff right off the lone Sex Pistols album, and Ray comes in shouting a snotty vocal, and while the synth wash at the end dates the track, it doesn’t ruin it. Good as that is, “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” is a truly classic track, with serious piano, crunchy riffing, and high harmonies disguising the pro-America sentiment. Curiously, the track runs nearly six minutes on the album, but the similar guitar and sax solos have us wondering if it weren’t artificially extended. A Chuck Berry cop is given the Ramones treatment on “Pressure”, where the ailment is more generalized, but “National Health” speaks more specifically about mental and physical stress with a less frenetic arrangement, with more modern percussion and synth effects. Speaking of which, “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” is one of the more unfortunate results of the disco era. The hideous thump of the rhythm section is surpassed only by “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, unleashed that same year by Kiss, but at least this works as an (albeit) stupid song, not at all taken seriously by Ray, and abetted handsomely yet under protest by Dave. (The Animals quote is cute too.)
Nobody must’ve told them the title track sounds too close to Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good” for comfort, but it’s still a good track for yelling along. “In A Space” isn’t very exciting, and repetitive to boot, but the sympathy throughout “Little Bit Of Emotion” makes up for it, despite the sax solo. “A Gallon Of Gas” might have been designed to appeal to an American audience, or maybe Ray couldn’t find anything to rhyme with “a liter of petrol”. At any rate, the whining about not being able to fill the tank in his limousine is strange coming so soon after the title track. It lopes along like Zappa’s “Road Ladies”, until the more traditional rock of “Misery” smacks it aside. “Moving Pictures” brings back the disco influence, but more along the lines of what the Stones were doing.
Low Budget would re-establish the band as a relevant force both on FM radio as well as in concert. Those radio hits are reflected in the bonus tracks on the expanded CD, which include extended versions of “Catch Me Now I’m Falling”, “Superman”, and “Gallon Of Gas”, the latter with extra verses in the “your body’s like a car” motif. The album also begins the lengthy tenure of Jim Rodford, fresh from Argent, on bass, but oddly, the only Kink depicted anywhere in the package is Ray.

The Kinks Low Budget (1979)—3
1999 Konk CD reissue: same as 1979, plus 3 extra tracks

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