Tag Archives: Bon Jovi

New Album! Ray Davies

And while the world continues to wait for a new Kinks album…

See My Friends is the latest effort from Ray Davies, a duets album of sort featuring guest artists from across the musical landscape. Even as a fan of tribute albums I must admit that I dread these affairs, for recording with the honored artist usually results in one of two things – deferring to the honoree or an awkward mix of styles…and sometimes both. Although not scheduled for release in America until April, wily Kinks fans know the album is currently one click away at Amazon UK.

The album lurches off to an unfortunate start with “Better Things”, a normally irresistible tune punctured by the growling Bruce Springsteen; if anything it proves how much better a vocalist Ray Davies is by comparison. Bon Jovi fares no better, with a turgid bar band version of “Celluloid Heroes” minus the panache, and Metallica fails to add anything to “You Really Got Me” that Van Halen didn’t already do a quarter century ago…and better. Billy Corgan’s version of “Destroyer” is as lame and irrelevant as he is. Jackson Browne and Lucinda Williams (the latter backed by The 88) are fine but unremarkable, but it is poignant to hear the late, great Alex Chilton (a longtime Kinks fan) cover “Til The End of The Day”

While the veteran rockers mostly disappoint, those from the current era fare better, although mostly sticking to safe arrangements. Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol, is a natural complement to Ray’s warble, sounding fragile and exhausted on “Tired Of Waiting”. Spoon is a wise match for the title track and craft an arrangement that fits their style well. And while sticking to her normal voice Paloma Faith is dynamic during “Lola”, although switching to Minnie Mouse falsetto during harmonies is jarring. And I like Amy MacDonald’s contribution on “Dead End Street” but the mood is ruined by the small talk between she and Ray at the end – whose brilliant idea was that?

The clear standout on the album is Mumford & Sons; their organic performance brings new life to “Days” and “This Time Tomorrow” and the medley is brilliantly executed. I would love to hear Ray take on the entire Muswell Hillbillies album with them. And since there doesn’t seem to be a Kinks reunion in the works – on record or live – I hope he pursues a collaboration like that before it’s too late.

Video: Ray Davies with Mumford & Sons

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God Save The Kinks

Still four, still fab.

…and perhaps Ray and Dave have decided to save them also. 

During an interview promoting an upcoming master class series he will be participating in, longtime drummer Mick Avory spilled some rather interesting beans. Not only are he and Ray “baking” some old unreleased Kinks tracks in the studio (there are reportedly eight ready to go!), but the efforts finally seem in place to record some new Kinks material. Those of us pining for the long-awaited Julien Temple Kinks film are now also hopeful that the recent Kinks box set will become outdated as a result, and for all the right reasons: 

New. Kinks. Music. 

Ray has always been the one to squelch rumors about any Kinks projects, citing the unwillingness to just reunite without new music. That hasn’t stopped him from taking the old chestnuts on the road or creating new projects around them, from Storytellers to The Kinks Choral Collection to a new studio effort re-recording Kinks Klassics with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and The Killers, among others. He’s currently hitting the road as an acoustic two-piece presenting forty years of Kinks songs (with The 88, an excellent band, opening the shows). 

Dave’s issues have been more cut and dried – since suffering a stroke in 2004, he has struggled to regain his strength and chops, although he did start playing some dates again. And as to his slagging Ray for “performing karaoke Kinks shows” for the past fifteen years, Ray wryly observed that Dave’s sarcasm was a good sign that he is getting back to normal. 

Of course, these reunion rumors have been going on forever. But to Mick’s point, Ray seems to have turned the corner regarding new music. In a November 2009 interview Ray spoke about missing The Kinks and the desire to make a new album with Avory, Ian Gibbons and others, but the key was if Dave was willing. That could be the very thing that gets Dave to bury the hatchet…and not in Ray’s head

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, “we wait with bated breath“. 

Ray Davies - Prince of the Punnnnks

And speaking of the Legends Master Class series, check out the website. If you hit the main page you might be put off by the offer to rehearse and write in the same room used by Lady Gaga or…um… master where Robbie Williams did (hand sanitizer not included). But forge ahead to the 2010 schedule where the teachers include respected icons like Avory, Chris Difford, Glen Matlock and the great Ian McLagan. Plus any event that winds up at Bill Wyman‘s pub for lunch is alright by me. The fun starts in April, so plenty of time to sign on; sounds a lot better than Rock&Roll Fantasy Camp to me. 

The only fan site you need: KindaKinks.net 

A Kollection of Kinks Klips

Do It Again

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Kurt Rolls Over In Grave, Dies Again

Oh. My. God.

Yeahhhhh, Boyeeeeeee!

You Know Who just killed him again!

You Know Who just killed him again!

Ulp!

After you clean out your brain with mental floss, check out the story behind that debacle. But I believe the appropriate Kurt response is right here.

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Blast From The Past: The Del Lords

Real American Rock'n'Roll

Real American Rock'n'Roll

Twenty-five years ago, a working man’s band swam upstream against the tide of electronica, arena rock and Euro-noodling to smack America upside its head and start the rock’n’roll bandwagon rolling again. Scott Kempner (“Top Ten” from The Dictators), Eric Ambel (fresh from Joan Jett and The Blackhearts), bassist Manny Calati and drummer Frank Funaro were NYC guys who thought the segregation of music into genres was absurd. They knew that rock’n’roll came from country, blues and gospel, and so too would their sound.

Call it roots rock, cowpunk, or Americana if you want to, but The Del Lords wrote heartfelt songs about the struggles and joy of life and played them with passion and fire. The first track from this debut album is the brilliant “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live”, and if you need to define the band by a single moment, that’s as good a definition as any.

When Frontier Days announced their presence, radio didn’t get it. But those of us who were yearning for honest rock’n’roll were thrilled to climb on board for the ride, a journey that would last through five albums and a lifetime of memories. Lou Whitney‘s bright production showed off the stellar guitar work of Kempner and Ambel, and while the four vocalists didn’t quite live up to Kempner’s goal of an “East Coast Beach Boys” (and didn’t The Four Seasons already own that title?), the vocals were solid and the album filled with melodic, hooky pop songs filtered through their barroom rock sound.

While millions of teenagers were pumping their fists to Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer” in arenas around the world, The Del Lords were singing about the real adult world with “Livin’ On Love” and “Double Life”. Anyone struggling to get through life, their job, or even their day could appreciate “Get Tough” and “Pledge of Love”; even the comic “I Play The Drums” deals with channeling frustration through music rather than pounding someone in the face. But don’t be fooled by that levity – these guys were as urban, gritty and streetwise in their way as The Clash were in theirs…not to mention Springsteen, Dylan, Presley and other American icons.

Kempner went on to release two excellent solo records and joins The Dictators when they get together; Ambel moved on to become an in-demand producer while continuing to make great music in bands like The Yayhoos; Funaro now plays drums for Cracker. But there’s a new buzz a quarter century later, from rumors of a reunion to the reissue of their catalogue (with bonus tracks). There are many bands whose output can be safely contained in a single greatest hits album, some even with filler. The Del Lords are not . Enjoy one of the finest American bands the way they were meant to be heard – in their entirety – and I highly recommend that you start at the beginning with Frontier Days.

The man who inspired their name.

Del Lords info at AllMusic

The Del Lords on Wikipedia

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