The Kinks: Everybody’s In Show-Biz – Ray Davies, guitar and vocals; Dave Davies, guitar and vocals; Mick Avory, drums; John Dalton, bass; John Gosling, keyboards – Konk/Koch Records Stereo-only Hybrid SACD – VEL-SC-79816, 74 mins. ***1/2:
The Kinks’ 1971 album “Muswell Hillbillies” was a critical success, and their record company (RCA) decided to give the band a great deal of creative license on their next project, which evolved into a lavish double album and concert film. The resulting album was “Everybody’s In Show-Biz,” which consisted of two parts: a concept album about the harsh realities underlying the glamour of show business, and a second album recorded entirely live to capture the rancor and party atmosphere of their live shows of the era. Neither aspect of the two concepts was completely successful; unless, of course, you consider how well they both served to document the growing rift between brothers Ray and Dave Davies. Dave Davies had just scored a top hit in the U.K. with a solo song “The Death Of A Clown,” and Ray Davies was jealous of the fact that the Kinks had not enjoyed similar success as a group, and this tension obviously affected the creative process throughout. At one point during the live tracks, Ray Davies is introducing the members of the band, and he introduces Dave Davies as “Dave ‘Death Of A Clown’ Davies, an obvious slap at his younger brother’s success. Over the next few years, the Kinks would experience frequent roster changes, with ex-members often citing the inability to deal with the ongoing tension between Ray and Dave Davies as the reason for their departure.
For the concert appearances, Ray Davies decided to add a brass section, and they were also later retained for the studio sessions. While this arrangement served many of the studio songs successfully, the brass section also created a real distraction for the focus of the band live in concert, and fans didn’t respond particularly well, either. Permission couldn’t be obtained to film the band’s live performances at Carnegie Hall, so the film that was supposed to accompany the album was shelved by RCA and never released, and the album wasn’t really much of a success commercially.
Most of the songs on the studio album hearken to the preceding album “Muswell Hillbillies,” although perhaps not as successfully maintaining the acerbic wit and humor of that album. The one exception, and a real travesty of the entire convoluted process that evolved into this album, is the song “Celluloid Heroes,” a timeless Ray Davies classic that has gone on to become one of the most-loved Kinks songs of all time. Even though it was eventually released as a single in support of the album, it never charted in England or the U.S. – just another indicator of how fickle the record-buying public can be.
In terms of sound quality, the studio sessions fare significantly better than the live tracks, which lack the lushness and sparkle of the studio recordings. That said, the SACD version still may be the finest incarnation these tracks have ever seen on recorded disc. The track “Celluloid Heroes” alone gets this disc three stars, but the remainder is a true mish-mash, and while there are indeed entertaining moments throughout, much of the album ultimately may only appeal to die hard fans. However, you need this disc, if for no other reason, to add “Celluloid Heroes” to your collection. And with what is essentially a two LP set on one disc at a single disc price, it easily gets a hearty recommendation.
TrackList: Here Comes Yet Another Day; Maximum Consumption; Unreal Reality; Hot Potatoes; Sitting In My Hotel; Motorway; You Don’t Know My Name; Supersonic Rocket Ship; Look A Little On The Sunnyside; Celluloid Heroes; Top Of The Pops; Brainwashed; Mr. Wonderful; Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues; Holiday; Muswell Hillbilly; Alcohol; Banana Boat Song; Skin & Bone; Baby Face; Lola; two bonus tracks.
– Tom Gibbs