The Kinks: Low Budget – Ray Davies, guitar, keyboards and vocals; Dave Davies, guitar and vocals; Mick Avory, drums; Jim Rodford, bass; Nick Newell, saxophone – Konk/Koch Records Stereo-only* Hybrid SACD – VEL-SC-79817, 59 mins. ****:

The Kinks “Low Budget” was, in my book, one of the last really great pre-new wave rock albums. Released in the summer of 1979, it was propelled to prominence by the public’s hunger for the reaction-to-disco satire “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman.”  The Kinks were one of the truly great live bands, but Ray Davies always felt that the record-buying public only remembered their old classic songs, and not anything that they’d done recently. This album was a reaction to disco and punk, and Davies saw an opportunity to make the Kinks relevant again. He abandoned the “concept” approach of the previous recent string of Kinks albums, and his strategy apparently worked. The resulting disc offered several big hits along with numerous well-crafted rock songs with much of the wit and humor of classic Kinks output, and received critical praise along with significant commercial success.

Several of the songs are downright hilarious. The aforementioned “Superman,” despite its thumping disco beat, is a really amusing portrait of the trials of everyday living. “Low Budget” also comically extols the hazards of squeezing out an existence controlled by ever-tightening purse strings, and “Gallon Of Gas” is a really hysterically good blues number that chronicles the perils of surviving the oil embargo of the seventies. 

Compared to my now out-of-print MFSL SACD version of the same disc (which, by the way, includes the exact same song selection, even down to the bonus tracks), I really couldn’t discern much difference between the two competing discs. I did sense a slight boost in the bass area on the MFSL disc, but that’s really common with most MFSL releases. At a retail difference of about half the price, I’d definitely go with the Koch version. While this disc may not be renowned for its audiophile qualities, it’s nonetheless a very good rock recording, and the SACD layer trounces the Red Book layer in every respect. Highly recommended.

Track List: Attitude; Catch Me Now I’m Falling; Pressure; National Health; (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman; Low Budget; In A Space; Little Bit Of Emotion; A Gallon Of Gas; Misery; Moving Pictures; three bonus tracks.

– Tom Gibbs