Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Kinks 26: Give The People What They Want

Ray Davies dove into the ‘80s seemingly ready to act like the Kinks had never experienced any kind of slump. To this day the title Give The People What They Want seems like both an ethos and a punishment, but that’s what he tried to do.
After a blast of static, the guitars begin right away, crunching through “Around The Dial”, which would go on to be an American anthem anytime a DJ moved on to another station. The title track is in the same key and nearly the same tempo, and an indictment of television (which of course we all know is inferior to radio). Following the verse about Lee Harvey Oswald, it seems the album is following if not a concept but a thread, as “Killer’s Eyes” takes an analytical view of a murderer. “Predictable” is a sludgy poke at modern fashion and neuroses, given a comedic and striking (for its time) video treatment, with the disdain taken further on the sneering “Add It Up”, which still sounds like the riff from Blondie’s “Call Me”, and listen for Chrissie Hynde cooing on the chorus breaks.
What really sold the album was “Destroyer”, wherein Ray mashes up “All Day And All Of The Night” and “Lola” to further explore neuroses and makes it work. “Yo-Yo” is a grim glimpse at the end of a marriage given an unfortunate metaphor that’s overused, and “Back To Front” is pounded through the speakers, though some of the snaky riffs are kinda cool. Unfortunately, while “Art Lover” is supposed to be from the point of view of a divorced father missing his kids, his delivery suggests there may be another, more horrible reason why he’s not allowed to see them. The sadness continues on “A Little Bit Of Abuse”, an outside look at a relationship that should end but won’t. The mood finally lifts for “Better Things”, a sincerely generous song of farewell.
The good outweighs the bad here, but there’s still something ordinary about the album. On top of Ray being the only Kink on the cover, it doesn’t take much to notice that Dave Davies doesn’t sing at all on the album, nor does he contribute any songs. Those needing their fixes didn’t have to look far, as he’d finally got a solo deal, putting out two albums in quick succession before Give The People What They Want came out. The first was mostly a one-man-band deal, with title and artwork based on the American catalog number, with lots of riffing and buried vocals, while Glamour was almost as loud, added more keyboards to befit the “futuristic” lyrics, and used one Bob Henrit on drums throughout.

The Kinks Give The People What They Want (1981)—3

No comments:

Post a Comment