Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

A Well-Respected Man

Photo by Frank Yang

I’ve been to a number of in-stores at HMV on Yonge St over the years, and as the store has undergone renovations and rearrangements, almost every time the stage has been in a different place and sadly, its diminishing place of prominence in the store is probably directly proportional to their emphasis on music. Case in point – last night’s in-store performance from the legendary Ray Davies, most famously of The Kinks. Though rather poorly publicized, word still got out enough that the upstairs was fairly packed by a half hour before start time, people jammed into the narrow aisles between CD racks around the makeshift performance area at the top of the stairs. There was no stage whatsoever and with the low-hanging signs from the ceiling and high-standing ads on the tops of the racks, sightlines were dismal. It was enough to make one think of the wonderful in-store space in the basement at Sonic Boom and weep, just a little.

But enough dwelling on the negatives. I got there early enough to get a reasonable view, particularly after they raised the microphones from seated to standing height and when Davies appeared, coming up the stairs to grand applause, it became more about the hearing than the seeing and that, at least, HMV got right. Davies was broadcast loud and clear throughout the store as he rolled out songs from his new solo record Working Man’s Cafe. Now I’ll be the first to admit that my Kinks education isn’t nearly what it should be – I know the singles and have a few albums but have never really immersed myself in Kinks-ology. That said, Davies’ new stuff sounded pretty good – he’s still got a sharp eye for societal commentary – this time pointed at America – even if his pen is a little more plainspoken and direct, less razor witted, than it used to be and his gift for melody is definitely still intact and voice strong. In short, he’s still got it and the very brief performance – three new songs and one Kinks tune (no, not “Waterloo Sunset”, not “Victoria”, not even “Come Dancing”. Yeah, THAT one. Of course) – was a real treat from a living legend. And if you couldn’t attend or couldn’t see, he promised a North American tour coming up soon.

He recently told Billboard he still holds out hope for a proper Kinks reunion as was rampantly rumoured late last year and says about the same in this interview with Canadian Press.

Photos: Ray Davies @ HMV – February 22, 2008
Video: Ray Davies – “Lola” (live on Regis & Kelly)
Video: Ray Davies “In A Moment” (Live on Letterman)

Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, talks to the The Chicago Maroon.

Spinner has an Interface session with Nicole Atkins & The Sea.

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has got the audio of Wilco’s fifth and final night at the Riviera in Chicago this week available to share. The quality is pretty good, though I don’t think it’s the feed from the webcast because if it was, there’d be skips and stops all the way throughout. That was my experience, at least.

Though Gary Louris just released his first solo record Vagabonds (for which he’ll be in town at the Mod Club on March 30), Billboard reports he has another finished record in the hopper, this one a collaboration with his former bandmate in The Jayhawks, Mark Olson. Look for Ready For The Flood later this Summer or in the Fall.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian offers up a two-part interview with Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

Drowned In Sound interviews The Gutter Twins. Saturnalia is out March 4 and while I hope to get a proper review together soon, I’ll just say that if you came of age in the ’90s and thought that Screaming Trees jamming with The Afghan Whigs would be the best thing ever… you will like this record. They’re at the Mod Club March 14.

New York Magazine talks to Matt Berninger of The National.

Asobi Seksu’s Yuki Chikudate talks to MusicOHM.

Billboard talks to Portishead’s Adrian Utley about the glacial creative process that brings Third on April 29, more than a decade after their last album.

By : Frank Yang at 10:26 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. John says:

    Its a cryin shame that when the Kink’s made it in the late 60’s that there they were the 5th best band out of band. You had The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Led Zep (in whatever order you want) and then maybe The Kinks. One of my favorite bandsand Ray Davies previous solo album was enjoyable for what it was. Here’s a Kinks factoid, The Village Green Preservation Society came out the same day in 1968 as…The Beatles (The White Album). It took nearly 30 years before people realized just how interesting and cool Ray and the Kinks are.
    Frank I’m not sure what Kinks you do have but I suggesy tracking down Arthur, The above mention Village Green,Lola versus the Powerman and Muswell Hillbillies.

  2. Frank says:

    I’ve got Arthur and Village Green, and just listened to the former this morning for the first time in ages and man – what a great record. Even through the bonus tracks, there was so much gold. I may have to start seeking out more – the massiveness of their catalog was one of the things that intimidated me but it may be time to roll up the sleeves…