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the Kinks - 1974 - Preservation: Act 2
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Tapestry of Delights:
Ray and Dave Davies, who were born on 21st June 1944 and 3rd February 1947 respectively, and grew up in the Muswell Hill area of London. They started gigging in a local pub in 1958 but their first significant break came in 1963 when Ray met Alexis Korner after a gig and Korner introduced him to London's burgeoning R&B scene. Before long Ray was gigging in his brother Dave's R&B combo, The Ravens, and in a blues outfit called The Dave Hunt Band. Eventually The Ravens attracted the attention of Larry Page who arranged for them to record a five track demo. This caught the attention of American producer Shel Talmy who got them signed to Pye. They became The Kinks early in 1963 when Mick Avory joined as drummer. It's said that in these early days their playing was so raw that on their debut 45, a cover of Little Richard's Long Tall Sally, the better parts of two takes had to be spliced together. Predictably it flopped as did the follow-up, You Still Want Me, a Ray Davies original from the same session. By this time, though, they'd been the subject of much music press hype and had an appearance on 'Ready Steady Go' under their belt.
The big breakthrough came with their third single, the Louie Louie influenced You Really Got Me. It's insistent riff powered what was a classic single in joint No. 1 in the UK in the Summer of 1964 and it also got to No. 7 in the US. Its style very much set the tone for all their singles in this early period. To cash in on this success they were pressured to put out an album which at the time rose to No. 3. In retrospect, though, it contained little of interest other than Ray Davies' Stop Your Sobbing and the instrumental Revenge (which session guitarist Jimmy Page would later re-record with lyrics added). The remaining material was mostly covers of R&B classics by the like of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, though another rehash of Slim Harpo's Got Love If You Want It had originally been on their five track demo.
The 45 follow-up, All Day And All Of The Night, was very much in the You Really Got Me mould, but it ensured another massive hit (No 2 UK, No 7 US). Hot on its heels came the laconic, cynical tone of Tired Of Waiting (No 1 UK, No 6 US), setting the scene for Ray Davies' writing style. Their next album Kinda Kinks peaked at No 3 here and No 60 in the US, where it had been preceded by a US-only album, Kinks Size, which had climbed to No 13.
Their next 45, Everybody's Gonna Be Happy, represented a change of style from their earlier efforts, which didn't go down that well in that it could only manage No 17. Then Dave Davies was knocked unconscious a few weeks into their first UK tour at a London concert and the remainder of the tour had to be cancelled.
Another strong 45, Set Me Free, put them back on track making the Top 10 here and No 23 in the US. The following month they embarked on a US tour which turned out to be a disaster when they were banned for four years for 'unprofessional conduct' by the American Federation Of Musicians after failing to show up at a gig.
See My Friend, an almost psychedelic dreamy number, returned them to the Top 10 but only just, whilst in the States, Who'll Be Next In Line (an earlier 'B' side) was a minor hit (No 34). Their final single of the three chord variety was Till The End Of The Day (UK No 8, but only US No 50, where the touring ban was already beginning to hit them), which was among their best.
1966 marked the first in a series of changes of direction by the band, as Ray Davies chose to question first the prototype conservative with A Well Respected Man and then the whole 'Swinging London' scene with another softer song, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion. The former put them back in the US Top 20, whilst the latter reached No 4 in the UK, where it was supported by a promo film. It later rose to No 36 in the US. These two records were really transitional ones en route to the mellow melodic sound which marked the next stage of their development and was epitomised by Sunny Afternoon (UK No 1, US No 14), Dead End Street (UK No 5, US No 73) and Waterloo Sunset (UK No 2). These were unquestionably some of their finest moments. Face To Face also echoed this change of direction. Their first album to pursue particular themes it also had its moments with tracks like House In The Country, Exclusive Residence For Sale and Session Man. It sold quite well here peaking at No 12 but faltered in the US at No 135. It was full of social observation and sharp lyrical turns of phrase.
1966 also saw a change in personnel, albeit temporary, when John Dalton deputised for Pete Quaife, initially because the latter had broken his ankle. In fact he later formed a new group Maple Oak but rejoined The Kinks after they'd put out one flop single. In 1969, of course, John Dalton, who'd played with The Mark Four, replaced Quaife permanently when he left to pursue a career in commercial shops and buy a record shop in Copenhagen.
1967 was the year when Dave Davies paralleled his career in the band with a solo career after the two tracks from the band's Something Else album on which he performed lead vocals were put out on a solo 45. The 'A' side, Death Of A Clown, was written by his brother Ray and with the only other single to make much impression being Susannah's Still Alive, the experiment proved short-lived. Something Else, incidentally would prove to be their last original album to Chart in the UK. It peaked at No 153 in the US.
The hits soon dried up too: Autumn Almanac, another classic, proved to be their last Top Ten hit for a while with Wonderboy, Days and Plastic Man all selling disappointingly. To some extent, though, the band were beginning to leave their audience behind, as Ray Davies set out to pursue his own songwriting goals. Their next album, The Village Green Preservation Society, their first which was more than just a collection of songs, was really his homage to Old England. It sold poorly, but this didn't deter him from returning to the theme on the follow-up, Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire). This had begun life as a TV musical which he had written with Julian Mitchell. It was also the first on which Dalton replaced Quaife permanently (i.e. line-up B). Whereas the previous album had seen Old England as a haven, this time it was seen as a burden on the present generation with flight from town to country or Britain to Australia the only solution. Ray Davies was by now expanding his career well beyond that of the band's leader. Before the release of the Arthur album he'd produced the Turtle Soup album for The Turtles and written a song a week for the BBC TV Series, 'Where Was Spring?' Although Arthur had originally been commissioned as a UK Granada TV play it never met fruition in this form. Like its predecessor it failed to Chart in the UK but it did climb to No 105 in the US where the band embarked on their first US tour for four years as support to Spirit having finally resolved differences with the American Federation Of Musicians.
Their next album, Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One marked a return to commercial success spawning as it did the excellent 45 Lola (UK No 2, US No 9), the story of a gender blurring encounter in an Old Soho Club, and Apeman (UK No 5, US No 45). The album's theme was the struggle of a rock band against the power of the music business. It was very much a description of the bands' own predicament as they prepared to leave the Pye label and their management. It was the first album to feature John Gosling on keyboards. Their final album for Pye, a film soundtrack called Percy, made little impression, but the commercial success of the predecessor helped them secure a new recording deal with RCA.
Their first album for RCA was the partly autobiographical Muswell Hillbillies, which addressed the issue of uprooting of inner-city communities. It also marked another change of direction towards a more theatrical 'live' presentation of the band. This was consolidated on the double album, Everybody's In Showbiz, Everybody's A Star, which consisted of a live and a studio set. The former portrayed the band as group of more theatrical entertainers supported by backing singers and a horn section. This approach seemed to lead to renewed enthusiasm for the band in the States, in particular, The stand-out track on the studio set was the gentle, melodic Celluloid Heroes, which became a minor UK hit but didn't fare as well as its predecessor Supersonic Rocket Ship. 1972 also saw the release of a US-only compilation in the States - The Kinks Kronicles. This reached No 94 in the US Album Charts helping to revive interest in the group. At the beginning of 1973 The Great Lost Kinks Album, another US-only package, was released and reached No 145.
At a time when their fortunes Stateside were reviving Ray Davies' own personal life was going through considerable turmoil. He left his wife and children in July 1973, took two drug overdoses and then announced at a White City pop festival his retirement... but this proved very temporary lasting no more than a few days.
On the music front, the group set up Konk studios in Hornsey, London in May 1973 and, inevitably, a Konk record label followed in October 1974. They'd partly set up the label to spare other artists the hassles they'd undergone themselves. Its first release was Claire Hamill's Stage Door Johnies and this and Café Society's debut album the following year were both produced by Ray Davies.
On record The Kinks took a character called Flash from their Village Green Preservation Society album and used him as the central character for Preservation Act 1 and 2. Neither album made much impression here but they climbed to No's 177 and 114 respectively in the US. Their next album Soap Opera (US No 51), stemmed from a TV musical Davies had been commissioned to write for Granada and told the story of a star played by Ray Davies searching suburbia for ideas for a new album and being lured into its values until he's not sure what he's about anymore. Like Schoolboys In Disgrace (US No 45) these albums lacked new ideas but each was accompanied by a stage presentation. This helped to enhance the band's reputation as a live and somewhat theatrical attraction in the States, particularly, where their very Englishness proved an added bonus. Another hits compilation - The Kinks Greatest - Celluloid Heroes - which peaked at No 144 in the US proved to be their last album for RCA as in 1976 they moved their base to the States, signed a new contract with Arista Records and Andy Pyle came in as a temporary replacement for John Dalton.
Bob Henrit and Jim Rodford now play with The Kinks. Both were once with Argent.
In fact The Kinks were one of those bands which would go on and on - they were a perfect vehicle for Ray Davies' undoubted talents as a songwriter and a showman. Over the years their live act became increasingly professional and sophisticated from the drunken brawls into which some of their earlier live acts had degenerated. Along the way they made several classic singles and a few decent albums.
Preservation: Act 1 and Preservation: Act 2 are 1973 concept albums (originally a single rock opera, but the idea was scratched), released as separate albums in 1973 and 1974 by the English rock group The Kinks.
The Preservation albums were not well-received by critics and sold poorly (the first one peaking on the Billboard 200 at #177), though the live performances of the material were much better received. Many hardcore Kinks fans were alienated by Ray Davies' melodramatic songwriting during the Preservation project era, resulting in albums that played more like the soundtracks to a piece of musical theatre than rock albums.
Side one 1. "Announcement" 0:41
2. "Introduction to Solution" 2:43
3. "When a Solution Comes" 3:40
4. "Money Talks" 3:44
5. "Announcement" 0:55
6. "Shepherds of the Nation" 4:17
Side two 1. "Scum of the Earth" 2:45
2. "Second-Hand Car Spiv" 4:01
3. "He's Evil" 4:25
4. "Mirror of Love" 3:26
5. "Announcement" 0:34
Side three 1. "Nobody Gives" 6:33
2. "Oh Where Oh Where Is Love?" 3:40
3. "Flash's Dream (The Final Elbow)" 4:17
4. "Flash's Confession" 4:06
Side four 1. "Nothing Lasts Forever" 3:42
2. "Announcement" 0:20
3. "Artificial Man" 5:30
4. "Scrapheap City" 3:16
5. "Announcement" 1:05
6. "Salvation Road" 3:20
All songs written and composed by Ray Davies.
"Mirror of Love"* – 3:29
"Slum Kids"* – 6:27
Ray Davies - vocals, guitar
Dave Davies - guitar, vocals
John Dalton - bass
John Gosling - keyboards
Mick Avory - drums
Maryann Price - vocals
Alan Holmes - baritone saxophone, clarinet
Laurie Brown - trumpet, flute, tenor saxophone
John Beecham - trombone, flute
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