Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ray Davies - Other Peoples Lives 6.7/10

At times Davies matures backward, trading the Kinks' tergiversating sophistication for rash generalization

Sometimes its hard to be honest with myself as a music fan. Sometimes I want to love something so much based on past performance that I can't see what is right in front of me. For you sports fans, and don't worry I think non sports fans will get this as well, the analogy goes like this: I love the Dodgers, and even though they have pretty much been a bad to mediocre team for the better part of the last 18 years I am still devoted and with each new year convince myself that they are great, despite the fact that my eyes can see that they are definitely not.

Well sadly the same goes for Ray Davies. I have listened to Other People's Lives four times now. The first two times I nodded my head and said to myself "oh, that was good, I think " or "ooh I guess I could like this, maybe." And then I listened to it again and realized that if it was anyone else but Ray Davies I would have listened once and, content that I didn't like its adult contemporary leanings, passed it on to someone who might enjoy it, like my dad. The fourth time made me kinda sad.

But here is the thing. I L-O-V-E the Kinks. I don't go two days without listening to them. I am not gonna blah blah blah you with my well thought out treatise on how awesome they are (e-mail me if you want the manuscript). Suffice to say they are a top 5 band for me. And as their leader, Ray Davies has a special place in the TQT Pantheon of cool (He's next to Leonard Nemoy and across the way from Fernando Valenzuela. Its a special place.)

Well that's too much baggage to take with me into an album. I am not going to track by track this sucker, but suffice to say songs like 'Stand up Comic' and 'The Tourist' are cringe worthy for a man who wrote some of the best subtle bits of social commentary of his era. I believe the term is 'too on the nose'. Possibly subtlety is something you lose with age. My evidence to back this up is simply that my dad has always been a pretty subtle guy and now that he is in his 60's he likes to point and people and say "wow he's fat" or "I hate his shoes". Thanks Dad.

Anyway I don't want Ray Davies to stop making music. If he makes another album I will buy it and listen to it, cause he sure has earned that from me. But Other People's Lives will sit on my shelf, perhaps waiting until I get a little older to enjoy it.

So i think the 6.7 was a little generous, but I understand. Its hard not to want to love it.

PS. I racked my brain for revered rock artists who had late career artistic breakthroughs. I drew a blank. George Harrison's last album was good, but didn't break any ground. Ditto Dylan's last few. Any thoughts?