Demonstrating the scientifically proven fact that the best music of all time was released when you were in high school, I’m quite fond of the Arista albums, especially the run of Low Budget-One For The Road-Give The People What They Want-State of Confusion. Throw in the Father Christmas single (not originally on any album, although it has since appeared on compilation albums and as a bonus track on the CD rerelease of Misfits) and you can’t go wrong.
Low Budget was where Ray looked at the late 70s punk scene and mod revival and said “Hey, we helped invent this sound back in 1964, and we still got it.” There are rave-ups like “Pressure” and “Attitude”, crunchy arena-rock like the title cut, “A Gallon of Gas”, and “Catch Me Now I’m Falling”, and a nod to the waning days of disco with “Moving Pictures” and the disco version of “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman”.
One For The Road is one of my favorite live albums by anybody. The rock version of “Superman” is infinitely better than the disco version.
Give The People What They Want has a lot of the snotty, snarky Davies wit. I still randomly quote “Hey Mom, there goes a piece of the President’s brain” and “Excuse me, is this your tooth?” at inappropriate times. But it’s not all sarcasm. “Better Things” is the wonderful closer, a song that you can’t be unhappy after hearing.
When I was 17, State of Confusion was just a collection of great rockers and nostalgic numbers like “Come Dancing”. When I listen to it in my 40s, which is when Ray wrote it, I hear a completely different album. Before the lyrics were cutting but seemed funny. Now I can picture the pain of the divorcees separating their “Property” and the weariness of the faded cougar in “Don’t Forget To Dance”. Dave gets to shriek his way through the balls-to-the-wall rocker “Bernadette” bitching about alimony, palimony, whatever it is [she] gets. Plus the album gets bonus points for being the first cassette tape I ever bought. And the tour was the first time I saw them live, and the last tour with Mick Avory.
Word of Mouth made tons of trips through my Walkman my sophomore year of college. Dave got his shining moment on “Living on A Thin Line”. I’d say “Too Hot” was the only subpar song on the album.
The MCA albums are a bit more hit-and-miss, and the Lost & Found compilation has most of the highlights. I would have thrown in “Aggravation” and “War Is Over” from UK Jive and tossed out “How Do I Get Close?” the obvious bid for late 80s rock-radio airplay. It’s not a good sign when the initial reaction to a new Kinks song is “What the hell? Are they *trying * to sound like Bon Jovi?”
Phobia…um…any album with the absolutely beautiful “Scattered” can’t be considered a bad album, but the rest of it is pretty forgettable. I don’t think I’ve listened to it all the way though more than once or twice.
To The Bone is a very good overview of their career done in the mid-90s “unplugged” style. The US version is a double CD, which was a big improvement over the single disk UK version, with one enormous glaring exception. For some inexplicable reason, the US version omits “Waterloo Sunset”. Why?? Who knows? It wasn’t for time reasons, as the first disk runs a mere 40 minutes or so.
I find the RCA-era (1972-77) to be pretty uneven. For me, the high point was Schoolboys In Disgrace. It is pretty solid with songs that work both as great stand alone songs as well as within the album’s concept - “The Hard Way”, “Jack the Idiot Dunce”, “I’m In Disgrace”