Pierce College, Woodland Hills, Calif. --- by Bob Gill,
Nov. 21, 1970
A surprisingly good-sounding tape of a whole show promoting the just-released album Lola vs. Powerman. Recorded in what sounds like a student union, this is the definitive portrait of the Kinks in their pre-Vaudevillian, garage rock days, and really, they sound pretty good. The extended ending of Brainwashed defines that period, as does the slowed-down, shouting version of Big Sky (which doesn't work that well, for me).
Perhaps the gem of the show is See My Friends, but two new acoustic songs, Get Back in the Line and Strangers, also sound good. There's a brief snippet of Act Nice & Gentle, obviously off the cuff, and a spontaneous version of Arthur that's sloppy but pretty good, though a bit fast.
Overall, it's not a great show, but it's pretty good, and I never thought I'd hear a tape this good from this period.
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio --- by Bob Gill,
Feb. 11, 1972
This fine show is from the same tour as the live part of Everybody's in Show Biz, but the horn section isn't along for this one. (Apparently on this tour the Mike Cotton Sound was a last-minute idea, and the group still had some bookings of its own, so it couldn't be at all the Kinks shows.) So you get to hear the songs missing from the live show on Everybody's in Show Biz period, and on top of that, even the songs that are on the album sound different.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Kinks sound really good. You might think songs like Skin and Bone would sound odd without the horns, but remember, there were no horns on the studio recording, and it sounds just fine here. For one thing, Ray plays electric guitar on this song, which he doesn't do when the horns are present, and it's great to hear. (The tape itself is outstanding, and you can distinctly hear Ray and Dave's separate parts.) Acute Schizophrenia and Alcohol also work fine without the horns, but I'm not sure Ray is playing on these.
Hearing this tape raises an interesting question: What if they had never added the horn section? By this point they were playing very well as a tight unit, and you have to wonder if they would have gone in a different direction. It might even have been an improvement.
The tape itself starts off a bit weak, with most of the sound coming from one speaker, but this resolves itself during the second song. From then on it's just about perfect, with excellent instrument separation (listen to Ray's part on You're Looking Fine, for instance) and very little crowd noise, so you can hear the patter in between songs. They don't get much better than this.
Boston Tea Party--- by Bob Gill,
March 5, 1972
If you want to hear what the live part of Everybody's in Show Biz would sound like if it had contained a complete show, this is the tape for you. The Boston show was only a couple of days after the official live recording was done at Carnegie Hall, and everything from the official album is on this tape (though not Till the End of the Day, a bonus song on the reissue) -- plus another ten or so, which flesh the show out and make it arguably preferable to Show Biz. Of course, the recording isn't as good, but it's very listenable.
Probably the most notable song is Complicated Life, a rarely played live song that includes a prominent horn arrangement. (They didn't play it at shows on this tour when the horns weren't there.) There's also an impromptu version of Harry Rag, plus a nice singalong version of You Are My Sunshine, with the whole band (including horns) joining in. The version of Lola, with Ray playing electric guitar (I think), shows you what the ending snippet from Show Biz sounded like in its entirety.
The addition of songs like You're Looking Fine, Waterloo Sunset, Get Back in Line and Victoria fill out the portrait of a live Kinks show much better than the official album, which is a bit heavy on the music hall stuff. All in all, this is a really enjoyable show, and it must have been a lot of fun for the people who were there.
Hollywood Palladium --- by Bob Gill,
April 11, 1973
The definitive tape of the Kinks in their boozy vaudeville days. It's full of unpredictable stuff, starting right at the beginning with about a 2-minute introduction to Victoria, started by Ray on harmonica. (It's possible that one of Dave's amps blew out right away, and the intro was stretched out so he could get it fixed.) Another unusual feature is the inclusion of Picture Book and People Take Pictures of Each Other, presumably prompted by the recent Drury Lane concert. Picture Book is a bit slow and piano-driven; People Take Pictures is a bit fast and dominated by the horns.
At one point Ray starts Muswell Hilbilly, but blows the second or third line and stops immediately, then tries to blame it on the audience: "If you're not gonna sing, we're not gonna do that one." He also does an apparently spontaneous version of Harry Rag, with the whole band playing, then stops after two verses to start Alcohol by proclaiming that "alcohol is better than cigarettes." In the way-drawn-out ending of Alcohol they break into Sunny Afternoon and Dead End Street, plus If I Were a Rich Man, from Fiddler on the Roof!
The version of Celluloid Heroes here includes the seldom-heard verse about George Sanders and Marilyn Monroe. The show ends with Good Golly Miss Molly, saving the You Really Got Me/All Day and All of the Night medly for the encore, which is the reverse of what you'd expect. Before YRGM, they do a verse of My Way, the Frank Sinatra song, though Ray sings hardly any of the words.
The story is that Ray dove into the audience during this show; judging from the tape, it must have occurred during YRGM, because there's a big cheer just before the second verse, which includes no vocals at all, presumably because he was trying to extricate himself from the crowd at the time. It sounds like Dave's amp blows out again during YRGM, and while it's being fixed Mick Avory plays a drum solo that lasts at least 30 seconds and possibly as long as a minute! The result is a ramshackle performance that provides the perfect end to the show.
The recording isn't great, but it's eminently listenable, and you'll never see a show like this again.
Palace Theater, Albany, N.Y--- By .Bob Gill,
Nov. 24, 1974
This is a fine recording, and as far as I know the only good one, of a Preservation stage show, running about 135 minutes in all. The first part of the show is unusual, not least because it doesn't include Lola. It's an interesting 45-minute set, consisting of only seven songs. The YRGM/All Day and All of the Night medley and the closer, Skin and Bone, are both extended beyond any other versions I've heard; Skin and Bone must be close to ten minutes long. The sound fluctuates for the first five songs, but finally settles in consistently for the last two. As for the Preservation segment of the tape (just about 90 minutes), it sounds nice and clear throughout. The horns usually stand out, and they never sounded better, especially on songs like Shepherds of the Nation. Dave gets in a couple of good solos on Money Talks and Slum Kids, and does a bit more singing than on the records; I suppose that's because they tried to keep up the appearance of having different people sing different parts. Another member of the Kinks, I'd guess John Gosling, has a couple of lead vocals, most notably on Artificial Man. For the record, the show includes seven songs from Act 1 and eleven songs from Act 2, plus the unreleased Slum Kids, and they all sound good, except Flash's Dream, where the prerecorded slowed-down voice of Flash's "soul" doesn't come through very well. This isn't the best tape I've heard, but it's a fine document of a unique show, and probably qualifies as indispensable.
Brooklyn College --- by Bob Gill,
Nov. 23, 1977
Having returned to a more traditional rock 'n' roll show in 1977 after three stage productions, the Kinks just got better all that year. This show, the second stop on their fourth U.S. tour of 1977, finds them at the top of their form. Sleepwalker songs like Stormy Sky, Full Moon and Life Goes On, which sounded a bit tentative earlier in the year, are verym sharp by this time, though they were dropped shortly thereafter in favor of new (and better) songs from Misfits. This version of Rush Hour Blues, also soon to bite the dust, is simply the best I've heard, bar none. The same goes for Education; on this night Ray didn't miss a single word, and it's the only time I've ever heard him manage that. And Life on the Road gets an extended treatment, including a well-done verse of Buddy Holly's "Heartbeat" toward the end.
There's also a nice five-song run-through of 1960s hits, including a fine version of Tired of Waiting for You, which they don't play very often. Ray also attempts an almost impromptu See My Friends, which may include only him and John Gosling. It's not bad, but it's only two verses. Much better is Get Back in the Line, making its first appearance in years, and sounding very heart-felt -- better than the version heard in the Kristmas Koncert a month later. Another song that shines is Juke Box Music; again, it's the best live version I've heard, mainly because Dave sings his lines very well, instead of screeching the second verse out as he often did, and Ray gets his lines right, instead of fouling them up or skipping as he sometimes did.
Another highlight is the first encore, Father Christmas (with Ray wearing a Santa Claus suit). It's played pretty much like the record, but it sounds fine. The second encore, You Really Got Me, has a rather drawn-out interlude in the middle, including Ray calling on the crowd to "do the funky Santa!"
Oddly enough, they *don't* do Alcohol, which is fine with me. Nothing wrong with the song, but it's nice to hear a show from that period without it.
All in all, it's a terrific show, and a fine recording, with Dave's guitar sharp and crisp, and Ray's vocals loud and clear.
Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles --- by Bob Gill,
June 25, 1978
This show finds the Kinks at the peak of their powers after a month of touring in support of Misfits. They play six songs from their new album (Misfits, Hay Fever, Permanent Waves, Live Life, Trust Your Heart, Rock and Roll Fantasy) and all of them sound really good, except maybe Trust Your Heart -- and even that one's better than the other live versions I've heard. Misfits is especially moving, and Ray introduces R&R Fantasy by dedicating it to bands that have broken up.
The show opens with three songs from Sleepwalker, the previous year's hit album, and Dave's guitar is very sharp and biting, especially on Mr. Big. Slum Kids is another highlight, with everybody getting a chance for a solo, including the two horn players.
Two unique features mark this tape: An impromptu version of Ducks on the Wall, with Ray singing the verses and the crowd singing "Ducks, ducks, ducks on the wall". The band doesn't play at all, but Ray sings about four lines, then stops and says the audience sounds good. "You should record that, it could be a hit," he says, and adds, "It wasn't when I recorded it."
Another nice touch comes during the encore, when former bass player John Dalton shows up on stage. Ray introduces him and says he's in L.A. by coincidence on vacation -- "on holiday", in Ray's words.
The recording is good; the volume level changes a couple of times, higher once and lower once, but that's easy to cope with. Simply put, this a fine tape of a great show.
Penn State University, PA --- by Bob Gill,
Feb. 17, 1979
A soundboard tape of the Kinks on the verge of their big breakthrough in the U.S. They're still playing roughly the same set as in 1978, but with a few changes: Sleepless Nights (from Sleepwalker), Where Have All the Good Times Gone, and both sides of their just-recorded, and not-yet-released single, Superman and Low Budget. The last three of these, of course, became staples of their live shows for the next few years.
Common songs from the 1978 set list that don't appear are Mr. Big Man, Hay Fever and Celluloid Heroes, the latter of which was due to return in the summer with a new arrangement.
The live show at this point is in transition from the 1978 version to the more bombastic shows of One for the Road and afterward. They're still doing the medley of Well Respected Man and Death of a Clown, followed by Sunny Afternoon, and they're still doing Alcohol (it was gone by the summer). All Day and All of the Night has its Way-o! Way-o! section in the middle, but You Really Got Me is still without the "Are you listening to me?" that soon became a ritual. And you might be surprised to find that they still had a saxophone and a trombone player with them; they both get solos on Slum Kids.
Ray is pretty talkative during this show, and the playing is outstanding throughout. As you might expect from a soundboard recording, it's excellent, but the tape was a bit too short -- it apparently ran out during Live Life, the first encore, so we miss out on the second, which I believe was Little Queenie. But this tape is more than good enough as it is.
Cobo Arena, Detroit --- By Bob Gill,
Aug. 10, 1979
This is a soundboard tape of almost a complete show; it starts with Life on the Road and is apparently missing only the YRGM intro and Sleepwalker. The sound quality is excellent, as you might expect, and the show includes several songs that aren't on Life on the Road: Permanent Waves, Misfits with the middle part intact, Gallon of Gas (including the extra verse omitted from the original Low Budget album), a complete version of Pressure, Twist and Shout, and Life on the Road, which I mentioned already. You might be surprised to hear a saxophone on several songs, including a substantial solo during the extended intro to Gallon of Gas. That intro, incidentally, sounds a lot like the instrumental section of Slum Kids from the 1978 shows -- Dave does a couple of solos, along with the sax and Ian Gibbons on the organ. Speaking of 1978: To my ears, this isn't nearly as interesting as the shows the Kinks were playing a year earlier. If I'm right about what's missing at the beginning, this show consisted of only 14 songs, and most of them are stretched out by extended instrumentals. But the sound is great, and if you want to hear a show from the Life on the Road era without any overdubbing, this is probably your best bet.
Madison Square Garden, New York --- by Bob Gill,
Oct. 3, 1981
This show was apparently very important to the Kinks (or Ray Davies, at least), judging from comments they've made in various articles, and they sure played like it was something special. Besides nine songs from their new album (all of GTPWTW except Predictable and Little Bit of Abuse), they pulled out several unusual songs, including a marathon eight-song encore. Except for the Preservation shows of 1974, this is probably their longest show ever.
The tape is certainly listenable, but the crowd is much larger than usual on Kinks tapes, and the people just make a lot of noise -- not individual noise, like someone yelling out "Apeman," but "bulk noise." The exception comes during Waterloo Sunset, a song the Kinks had quit playing in the U.S. in 1978. They pulled it out for this show, probably to make some sort of a point, and while they're playing it the crowd is almost silent, for the only time on the whole tape. Either they're bored by this song that most of them haven't heard, or they're just in awe. I sure hope it's the latter.
A short version of Village Green Preservation as the next-to-last song is a very nice surprise, and so is Ray's closing statement. He says they had to play MSG once, but next time they'll come back in some smaller places, "where you can see what color my eyes are."
One more note: If you're a fan of live versions of Yo-Yo, as I am, don't expect a gloriously drawn-out version like they were doing a few months later. At this point it was pretty new to their set list, and they play it pretty much as it is on the record. It's still good, of course, but not what it became later.
Rockpalast, Essen, Germany --- by Bob Gill,
April 4, 1982
Quite simply, I think this is the best tape from the Kinks' superstar era of the early '80s. It's a radio simulcast of a televised show, so the sound is outstanding, and the band sounds great. Dave's guitar could be just a tad louder, but that's just nitpicking.
Highlights include a great version of Yo-Yo with a long and tight jam at the end, a fine version of Bernadette, which wasn't released until more than a year after this; and a great intro to Lola, in which the crowd is so obviously excited that Ray omits his usual act of coaxing them to sing along and plays a whole verse with just his acoustic guitar (not the shortened version he does on One for the Road and most live shows after that), while the crowd accompanies him.
To my ears, the seven songs from Give the People What They Want all sound better here than on the album, and the same goes for the songs that are on One for the Road. On Celluloid Heroes, during Dave's second guitar break, Ray actually gives a "whoop!" -- apparently just because he's enjoying the sound they're making so much. As well he should. The band's "hard-rock" schtick hasn't gotten too formulaic at this point, and many of the little tricks (like singing another verse of Lola and All Day and All of the Night after the songs have already ended, for instance) still sound fresh, and so does the whole show.
Springfield, Mass--- by Bob Gill,
Dec. 28, 1983:
To my mind, the Kinks' live shows during the State of Confusion era are the best of their ``arena'' years, and this one is a fine example of why. In a bit less than 90 minutes they play 20 songs (and the tape cuts off before the encores start, so obviously they really played 22 or so), and almost all of them, even the standards from that period, sound fresh and lively..
As always, a few less common songs are among the highlights: Labour of Love and Cliches of the World, for instance. To my ears, this version of Cliches is much better than the one on The Road, because Ray plays acoustic guitar (at the beginning, at least) and that gives the song a more reflective tone than the rather bombastic all-electric versions. Even Lola, a song most tape collectors could certainly live without, is noteworthy here, because Ray makes a flagrant mistake after the line ``I always want it to be that way.'' It's interesting to hear how they correct themselves.
The clear highlight, though, is a first-ever live version of Two Sisters, dedicated by Ray to ``the kultists who've been following us around for all these years.'' (Not his exact words, but a paraphrase.) It's surprisingly good; they run through the whole song with basically just Ray and Dave on guitars, plus a minimal bass part, then repeat the middle eight and the last verse with the whole band, and it sounds like something they've been playing every night. In truth, though, it's so obscure that even Ray can't remember what album it comes from; he says it's from Face to Face.
Two Sisters is followed by Harry Rag, this one totally spontaneous and probably inspired by the previous song. Ray does only two verses, and stops just as the band is starting to find its way. Songs like these two disappeared from the Kinks' shows during the arena years, and it's great to hear them on a well-recorded tape, which this is. It's a keeper, for sure.
Riviera Theater, Chicago --- by Bob Gill,
March 8, 1987
This show was taped for the King Biscuit Flour Hour, which eventually broadcast 17 of the 21 songs played that night. But the show was also simulcast on a Chicago station, and the tape of the whole thing is an improvement on the King Biscuit show.
For one thing, the sound is better. It's in stereo, and the King Biscuit tapes I've heard are more or less in mono. Also, and possibly as a result of better stereo separation, Dave's guitar is much more prominent, which is another improvement. And there's much more chit-chat between the songs, some of it pretty amusing.
The Riviera is apparently a small place, and perhaps as a result, Ray drops some of his "arena" routines. (He doesn't shout "huh" at all, for instance.) The playing is really good -- to my ears, they're more energetic than they were in 1985, at least in the August-September tour. The one drawback is that several of the "standards" -- Do It Again, Low Budget, State ofÅ Confusion, a few others -- are played a bit too fast for my taste.
Three of the five new songs from Think Visual sound very good: Lost and Found, Working at the Factory, and Video Shop. And while we're on the subject, Video Shop is one of the four songs omitted from the King Biscuit broadcast; the others are Misfits, The Hard Way, and A Gallon of Gas.
If you already have the King Biscuit show on tape, it's a tossup whether you'll want the whole show. It really is an improvement, but whether it's worth the trouble is your call.
Devon, PA --- by Bob Gill,
July 16, 1995
All things considered, this might be the best tape from 1995, which could turn out to be the Kinks' last tour. The set list contains just about all the standards from this period, including Dave singing Sleepwalker (a much livelier version than the rather limp reditions on those two 1988 radio broadcasts), a nice version of It's All Right (flip side of YRGM), and Set Me Free.
The high point of the show, though, is I'm Not Like Everybody Else. Basically it's the arrangement heard on To The Bone, but here it starts with Ray playing acoustic guitar and singing all by himself. After a verse or so he starts talking about this song as it relates to the Kinks themselves. It sounds entirely spontaneous. Ray concludes his spoken bit by saying something like, "We are not in the mainstream; we are not on either side of the stream; we are the Kinks, and we're not like everybody else." Then Dave's guitar solo kicks in, and the song transposes into the To The Bone version. It's exciting to hear them re-inventing songs on the spot, and this is one of the best cases I've heard.
The sound is excellent throughout, though a bit trebly. If you want one show to summarize the 1995 tour, this might be the best.
Casino, Oostende, Belgium --- by Piet Jupiler,
July 23, 1999
A sunny afternoon on the 23rd of July 1999 in Ostende (Belgium)
After an afternoon on the beach I was in for an evening with Ray Davies and his Storyteller show. I was prepared for everything because I had my Sony V8 camera (an old type monoversion from 1994), a photocamera and the book X-Ray, so I was gambling on three fronts.
First front: I'd like to have the autograph of Ray in my X-Ray book.
Second front: I'd like to make some really close pictures of Ray after the show.
Third front: If "they" allow me I'd like to tape the show as a personal souvenir.
After some Leffe dubbel I had the courage to slip in and start with front number three. To be short, only the third front was successful.
Nobody stopped me when I was recording the show and the people around me didn't bother me at all. I was able to shoot the show in one shot and I can assure you that it was not easy because I had to do this with the camera on my knee with my foot on the gap between the two seats in front of me. I had already seen the Storyteller show April last year in Utrecht (Holland) so it didn't bother me to see it through the camera.
I sat on row seven and I was afraid of the quality of the sound because of the power of the installation of Ray and Pete. The quality of the moving pictures was also a problem because you can't hold the camera steady without any equipment to support it.
When I came home in the middle of the night I was very curious to see the results of my work and I decided to watch the tape at once. I missed a piece of the a cappella part of Days (first encore) but for the rest the result was surprisingly good...
Like the information of Hans de Roodt, already told in his "Kinks Kronikle" published for the Kinks meeting on 12th September in Utrecht this year, there was no time for rehearsal, only a soundcheck. The show was a bit undressed when I compared it with Utrecht last year but more spontaneous after the first songs.
During the first song "Lola" Ray tried very hard to get us in the mood and sing along. This was a little bit too early for most of us but Ray kept on shouting "come on, come on" and all right, we would sing along. After that he got us down with a moved version of "Celluloid Heroes" and (after some words from the black book) "Victoria".
When this succeeded there were some Storyteller-dialogues, but also some original interaction with the audience before and between "20th Century Man" and "London Song". Further with his sisters and "That Old Black Magic", followed by "Tired Of Waiting" (used by myself as a sound behind my screensaver). At this point everybody got in the mood to sing along so Ray treated us to an original "Ostende Dialogue" by having a Leffe dubbel on stage.
After that he performed an entertaining version of "Alcohol" and everybody, including me, sang together. Then "Set Me Free", "The Green Amp" dialogue when Ray (tongue in cheek) discussed Dave's drugs involvement and "See My Friends", perfect performed with some very nice guitarwork of Pete Mathison.
Yes, and then "Autumn Almanac". When Ray used the audience to sing the chorusline he pointed his finger at the camera and me and said: "Put Out The Tape!!!!!!" Sorry Ray, everybody around me must have heard it, but not me. I was too busy with my camera and noticed only some uncomfortable moves around me.
The show continued with a new dialogue about "Suburbia", followed by "The Hunchback" and "X-Ray". After that a long performance of "Dead End Street" including a jazz section with a solo of Pete.
The next was a nice version of "Where Have All The Good Times Gone" and a hilarious dialogue about the beer trademark "Jupiler". Some rest for the audience during "Art School Babe" and "Back In The Front Room" and my favorite Kinks song "I'm Not Like Everybody Else". "The Kinks Were Formed" and "The Managers Dialogue" were put together by 'A Well Respected Man" and Larry Page appeared in the middle of "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion". "The Three Single Deal" dialogue had a new arrangement, "Grooving Swinging Sixties Man".
The beautiful song "Julie Finkle" and the YRGM dialogue followed by "You Really Got Me" was the end of the show, but Ray gave us two encores. The first one was "Days" and finally last a wonderful "Waterloo Sunset". What a night, I was total loss at the end but very happy with the result.
Setlist: 1.Lola* 2.Celluloid Heroes* 3.Intro (Dialogue) 4.Victoria 5.My Name (Dialogue) 6.20th Century Man 7.I Do Not Come From Gent (Dialogue)* 8.London Song 9.My Big Sisters (Dialogue) 10.That Old Black Magic 11.Tired Of Waiting 12.Ostende* (Dialogue) 13.Alcohol* 14.Set Me Free 15.The Green Amp (Dialogue) 16.See My Friends 17.Autumn Almanac (Turn Out The Tape!) 18.Suburbia* 19.Hunchback (Dialogue) 20.X-Ray 21.Dead End Street* 22.Where Have All The Good Times Gone* 23.Jupiler* (Dialogue) 24.Art School Babe 25.Back In The Front Room 26.I'm Not Like Everybody Else* 27.The Kinks Were Formed (Dialogue) 28.Well Respected Man* 29.Managers (Dialogue) 30.Dedicated Follower Of Fashion*/Larry (Dialogue) 31.Three Single Deal, Grooving Swinging Sixties* (Dialogue) 32.Julie Finkle 34.You Really Got Me (Dialogue) 33.You Really Got Me 35.Days* (Encore) 36.Waterloo Sunset* (Encore)