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Old 04-27-17, 10:32 AM   #1
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Ray Davies -- "Americana" -- 4/21/17

This was quietly released last week. Has been getting some pretty decent reviews. Ray partnered with The Jayhawks as the backing band. A number of good songs, my favorites are probably Poetry, The Invaders and A Place in Your Heart.

Apparently he has another 20+ tunes already written that he's looking to release as part of a Deluxe edition at some point.



Quote:
The Kinks legend uses Americana to blaze a path through both America's rock’n’roll history and his own. Its back-to-basics energy and prosaic storytelling make it his best solo album in years.

As suggested by the title Americana, the former Kinks frontman is a cultural and musical paradox. The most emphatically English of all the British Invasion bandleaders, Britpop’s beloved father argues throughout his new album (and 2013 autobiography by the same name) that he spent much of his band’s 32-year career chasing the American Dream.

Even so, many of the Kinks’ most enduring hits—from 1965’s “A Well Respected Man” to 1977’s “Father Christmas”—drew explicitly from England’s class system, customs, and culture. While nearly every major UK act downplayed their Englishness once psychedelic pop morphed into acid rock, the Kinks defiantly celebrated it with Anglo-specific artistic peaks so out of step with the times they doubled as commercial failures, like ’68’s The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.

But back in 1964, when Sir Ray and baby brother Dave practically invented heavy metal with “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” the Kinks were imitating black American bluesmen. Then, when they partnered with master mogul Clive Davis and toured America almost nonstop through the late ’70s and early ’80s, much of their output so aped U.S. arena rock that nearly all of it bombed back home. Principally played by Ray Davies and the Jayhawks, the rowdiest chunks of Americana echo the wild riffs that animated those fist-pumping anthems.

Quoted at length in Americana the book, “The Great Highway” and “Wings of Fantasy” both lyrically and musically recall those road-hog years when Davies aimed to reclaim the mass audience (and dollars) the U.S. establishment denied him during the British Invasion’s reign. Flaunting soupy arrangements of straightforward power chords, these cuts aren’t Americana as the rootsy genre is now defined, but they sure sound American–nearly a Coors ‘n’ tailgate reference away from bro-country.

Yet most of Americana avoids the hammy growling that marred earlier Davies solo records like 2006’s Other People’s Lives and 2007’s Working Man's Café, even though, as the book reveals, some of its songs predate those albums. On the opening title track, Davies so abandons his usual music hall delivery and near-Cockney accent that he’s barely recognizable. Having finally achieved West End success with 2014’s still-running jukebox musical Sunny Afternoon, Davies redirects his theatricality into Americana’s narrative. Like the book, it forgoes chronology as it zigzags from childhood dreams of Wild West buckaroos to delusional Hollywood aspirations; back to the Kinks’ maiden voyage to America, when their long hair and pervy moniker initially marked them more threatening than the Stones; and forward to being shot in 2004 by a mugger nearby his adopted New Orleans home.

No matter where he dwells, Davies remains an outsider, and that alienation unites Americana’s jumble of eras and places. On “Poetry,” he kneels in gratitude at the local KFC for the abundance that corporations bestow upon us. This is Davies in Dylan mode, hyperbolic but as dazzling with prosaic details as his student Jarvis Cocker. And unlike his previous post-Kinks cohorts, the Jayhawks steer clear of Nashville gloss while conjuring the appropriate C&W-tinged folk-rock fare. Keyboardist Karen Grotberg even duets with Davies on “Message from the Road,” evoking the tumbleweed kitsch of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood while still pulling heartstrings.

Preceded by a quote from the book about his New Orleans neighbor, the late Alex Chilton, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Cowboys” provides the other poignant highlight. It’s a eulogy for rock’s rebels as well the music itself that’s delivered as a bittersweet bluegrass waltz, and it extends a metaphor of the formerly outlaw genre as a vanquished frontier. “Your time’s passed, now everyone asks for your version of history,” he mournfully croons. “Do you live in a dream, or do you live in reality?” He poses the question without answering it himself; there’s no need.

Tracklisting:

1. Americana
2. The Deal
3. Poetry
4. Message From The Road
5. A Place In Your Heart
6. The Mystery Room
7. Silent Movie
8. Rock 'N' Roll Cowboys
9. Change For Change
10. The Man Upstairs
11. I’ve Heard That Beat Before
12. A Long Drive Home To Tarzana
13. The Great Highway
14. The Invaders
15. Wings Of Fantasy



Last edited by Geofferson; 05-01-17 at 10:44 AM.
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