Let me be the first to say that my knowledge of Ray Davies and/or The Kinks is extremely limited. Limited to a few of their big hits and Low Budget, an album that my cousin had on vinyl and one that I have picked up on vinyl at some point in the last few years. So that's not much. This was a purchase for me based on the sound clips and the fact that I do enjoy picking an album or two each year from aging rockers that I have never really listened to, entirely for support purposes. So I really didn't know what I was getting.
The packaging is rather decent. It's a digipak with a cd tray. There is a booklet, or rather a fold out that has a poster of Davies on one side and the lyrics and credits on the other. Nice job there, though I prefer a booklet for ease of flipping through.
The music itself, which of course is the target of this review, starts off well enough with the title track. As you might imagine, it's basically a song that describes the entire premise of the album. It's country-flavored, complete with steel guitar. But as I have already said, it basically does in one song what the entire album is trying to do. Still, I like it. There are other songs of note for me, like A Place In Your Heart, which delivers the initial vocals in a rap-style before slightly changing pace and going full on country. There are female lead vocals here, provided by Karen Grotberg, and it's simply a cool little song. Change For Change is another excellent song that starts off acoustically and delivers a chanting type vocal that, if you ask me, is pretty wicked. The fuzzed out percussion works well. That song is followed by The Man Upstairs, which kicks off with a call back to "All Day And All of the Night" before a spoken word passage regarding, you guessed it, his upstairs neighbor. This is the second spoken word passage on the album, but whereas the first one feels unnecessary, this one feels like it's building to something special as it rolls into the next track.
But that's where I find issue with the majority of the album. None of the songs are bad, but other than the ones mentioned so far, none of them make the album special to me. They cover all of the things one might cover in an album inspired by a person's thoughts on America, but they just don't beg to be heard more than once, maybe twice. The musical accompaniment is very well written in my opinion, but the songs are just...songs.
I can really appreciate the effort here. I really can. But I'll more than likely relegate this offering to the "yes I paid for it, but no, I really don't ever listen to it" pile. Of course, that's a figurative pile, but a pile none-the-less.
Overall Rating: 2.75 out of 5 Aging Rock Stars
2. The Deal
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
I feel the same way and I love Ray!
I can't say I'm disappointed, as I really didn't have much to compare it to. But I would definitely say underwhelming. Thanks for reading Mike!
You did good, and I didn't have to write it, lol!
I think it's more difficult to write a mediocre review than a glowing one. It's hard to describe something that sounds okay, but doesn't really grab you either.
That's a great point- so-so is VERY difficult to write and especially keep interesting!