Everybody’s in Showbiz (Legacy Edition)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The second deluxe Kinks Legacy reissue in what seems to be an ongoing series combines 1972’s double vinyl Everybody’s in Showbiz (initially one disc of new studio material and a second of tunes recorded on the band’s March 1972 Carnegie Hall dates) onto one CD adding a platter of more live music from the same shows, along with some alternate takes and mixes, outtakes etc., typical of the expanded concept.
The concert/studio combination concept made particular sense due to the first disc’s song cycle generally fixated on the frustrations and vagaries of a rock star’s road life (specifically in the US where the Kinks had previously been banned from playing for four years), with singer-songwriter Ray Davies’ tongue-in-cheek humor at its driest.
The Kinks also add horns on this, the group’s tenth release. Their occasional appearance helps push the sound towards a brassy, vaudevillian yet not particularly jazzy and far from funky direction. The horns drive rockers like “Unreal Reality,” an unflinching look at the Kinks’ audiences, and a squinting vision of the tedium of touring on “Here Comes Yet Another Day” where Davies complains “Can’t even comb my hair/ Or even change my underwear” with his usual wink and nod approach.
American music appears in the country strum of “Motorway,” one of a few mentions of how dreadful eating on the road is as Davies says in no uncertain terms he’s “tired of livin’ this motorway livin’.” Rock critics get theirs too from the singer-songwriter on “Look a Little on the Sunny Side” as he sings about bad reviews, “You’ve got to learn to grit your teeth and smile/ and look a little on the sunny side of life” against oom-pah horns.
The album’s tour-de-force remains “Celluloid Heroes,” a lovely six and a half minute, piano led reminiscence about golden age movie stars that Davies calls out by name (Marilyn Monroe, George Sanders, Mickey Rooney etc., whose handprints he observed on Hollywood Boulevard) and who “worked and suffered and struggled for fame.” Those film legends’ connection to the more contemporary rock star system of celebrity is unspoken yet implied, especially since the words of the song provide the album with its title. It remains one of the most heartfelt, emotionally driven and moving pieces in the Kinks’ bulging catalog.
The live selections, both from the original album and the newly unearthed ones are a mixed bag. They reveal Ray’s alcohol-induced between-song ramblings at their worst, yet display a loose, not quite sloppy style typical of the five piece at the time. Four of the previously unreleased tracks are different performances of songs already on the first disc. But some new ones like a spritely run through of “Sunny Afternoon” and versions of seldom played tracks such as “She Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina” and “Long Tall Sally,” the latter an early Kinks hit, are well worth hearing for fans. The same applies to the four alternate mixes.
The remastered audio is crisp and dynamic, giving the horns in particular new presence and providing fresh life to an often overlooked entry into the Kinks’ classic music.