Ray Davies and The Crouch End Festival Chorus - The Kinks Choral Collection
Richard Wink 22/07/2009
I never envisaged that one day I would be writing a review that would attack Ray Davies, but here goes nothing. This is one of the most pointless albums I have ever listened to, on this album Ray Davies effectively becomes a masochist and slaughters every one of his classics, working on the mindset that as he created them, now he can destroy them.
The Crouch End Festival Chorus worked alongside Davies during BBC's hit and miss Electric Proms, what might work on a one off special occasion doesn't work on disc. This isn't Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony; the classics don't take on a new life, and pointedly almost from the opening track the chorus become a redundant sideshow. Effectively Ray is giving credit to a noble group of backing singers.
Tacky is a word you would use, the inclusion of a medley of songs from The Village Green Preservation Society, and the tediously average 'Working Man's Café' drags the album into unparalleled levels of self-indulgence. The harder edged tracks like 'You Really Got Me' and 'All Day and All of the Night' are sanded down by the chorus. Not one song benefits from getting reinterpreted.
Davies is one of British music histories greatest songwriters, he sits close to Lennon and McCartney, but at this stage of his career you would like to believe he could produce some respectable new material, whilst at the same time ageing ungracefully like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan or Tom Waits, noble veterans with a little bit of devil and grit in their repertoire. If he is to dabble, then he could do what Johnny Cash did and make an album of unlikely covers. The worry is that Davies' vocals are wayward, flat and cracking in places; you can only hope this isn't the last thing he records because it would be a shame to end on such a weary note.
The Kinks Choral Collection is one for the completists only.