Review: The Genius of Ray Davies Revealed

Various Artists/Jem Records Celebrates Ray Davies/Jem Records
Four Out Of Five Stars

Videos by American Songwriter

This isn’t the first time a tribute to Ray Davies has ever been offered. After all, Davies is one of the most prolific frontmen of all time, as evidenced by the legacy of The Kinks and the remarkable array of recordings Davies and company was responsible for throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Sadly, it appears the band is no more, owing not only to Davies’s sequence of solo albums but also the ongoing tension with his younger brother Dave.

Therefore, this effort by the renowned power pop label Jem Records is certainly welcome, given that it serves as a reminder of the clever and consistent song craft that Davies is well known for. Granted, it would be impossible to begin to include even a fraction of all the great songs he’s written over the decades, but regardless, the bands — all chosen from within Jem’s ranks — still manage to cover quite a bit of ground.

The obvious early hits are mostly forsaken, consequently there’s no “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” Well Respected Man” et al., but even so, the familiarity factor does come into the play courtesy of such songs as “Days,” “I Need You,” “Til the End of the Day,” and the like. So too, each of these outfits allows their own power pop precepts to underscore the more effusive elements in each of the entries. The Midnight Callers, for example, ease out of the cheery charm and wistful nostalgia that originally characterized “Come Dancing,” and substitute instead the sound of a decidedly robust rocker. The Grip Weeds do the same, infusing new energy into the formerly doleful designs of “Where Have All the Good Times Gone.” 

Those looking for deeper cuts ought to be fully satisfied given the inclusion of “I Gotta Move,” “Picture Book,” “Do You Remember Walter,” “This Is Where I Belong,” “David Watts,” and happily, “The Village Green Preservation Society,” the title song from what is arguably The Kinks best album. Still, the real revelation comes courtesy of one of Davies’ and The Kinks’ biggest hits, that being “Lola.” It inadvertently became a song well-suited to the Trans movement, well before any awareness set in. Note the lyric:

Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
Why she walked like a woman but talked like a man…
Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, except for Lola

Credit this tribute for pointing to the fact that Ray Davies was indeed well ahead of his time…in more ways than one.

Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour Reaches All-Time High with Single Month Earning

3 Songs You Didn’t Know Morrissey Wrote