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Music Review: The Kinks – Everybody’s In Show-Biz

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Very few bands or musicians have taken as many different paths as Ray Davies and The Kinks, especially in such a short time. They produced power rock, psychedelic rock, pastoral rock, rock operas. Their music told wonderful stories of British life.

Everybody’s In Show-Biz found The Kinks in transition mode yet again. Ray Davies’ songwriting style began moving toward the stage and theater, an area he would explore more deeply with the next Kinks release. It was a double album with the first disc devoted to new studio material which focused on life on the road. The second disc was a live album which completed the concept of life on the road in a literal sense. The album featured the band’s core members of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Ray Davies, lead guitarist Dave Davies, bassist Jack Dalton, drummer Mick Avory, and keyboardist John Gosling.

The studio material is never boring and holds up surprisingly well. The album opened with “Here Comes Another Day.” It appropriately contained lyrics of beginning a new day, complete with underwear. “Maximum Consumption” was a song in which Ray Davies commented on the ordinary, focusing on too much food. He actually made it listenable. “Sitting In My Hotel” was a lovely ballad and “Motorway” proved that Ray Davies could write a pop melody with the best songwriters of the day.

It seems as if every Kinks album contained at least one classic song. Here it was “Celluloid Heroes,” which was nostalgic, melancholy, and stunning. It mentioned a number of actors and actresses of the 20th century and their enduring allure. It was a rare Kinks song that placed the organ as a lead instrument.

The live album was a product of its time. Its track list contained no classic hit songs except for “Lola.” It contained five songs from Muswell Hillbillies, plus other songs of the era. The best of the lot were “Top Of The Pops,” a high energy version of “Alcohol,” and the aforementioned “Lola.” Their covers of the 1955 Broadway hit “Mr. Wonderful,” “Baby Face” from 1926, and the Jamaican “Banana Boat Song” (also known as “Day-O”), were a real stretch then and remain so now.

Everybody’s In Show-Biz was a very good, if not classic, release by The Kinks. It remains a second echelon release where the studio material is very listenable. The concert tracks are very ecletic, many of which do not appear on other Kinks live albums.

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About David Bowling

  • steve cranshaw

    The live version of Lola is only a tiny fragment and hardly ‘one of the best’, while the live LP is a classic artifact of the fun and campy shows the band performed throughout their ‘golden era’. just sayin’.

  • http://billblackmonphotography.smugmug.com/ Bill Blackmon

    Sorry but this album sucks but not as much as the one following it. I’m a huge Kinks fan but don’t apologize for the bad albums they have made and this is the first mediocre-to-awful one since ‘Kinda Kinks’. The studio album is ruined by by lame musical performances, tiresome music hall horns, whiny lyrics and aside from ‘Celluloid Heroes’ and ‘Sitting in My Hotel’, no great songs and only one ‘rock and roll’ song that could have been very good but the band’s performance is so tired and careful it is ruined – where is the guitar solo in ‘Here Comes Yet Another Day’? The space for it is empty; live it’s a lot better but I guess they band couldn’t summon the energy to pull it off. The live album is good-very good but the 45 second rendition of Lola is terrible. I can see why is was edited down to almost nothing.

  • Gert Eggens

    Have to agree with Bill here. Everybody’s In Showbizz is a far cry from the material the Kinks produced the previous five years. But it is hard to surpass albums like Face To Face, Something Else, “Village Green”, “Arthur” and Muswell Hillbillies. Yes, they sounded tired on Everybody’s In Showbizz, on some tracks even unrehearsed. Although Soap Opera has no real classic Kinks tracks that album at least sounds as if the group was recovering after two years of dreadful sounding pop opera’s. And Schoolboys In Disgrace more or less confirmed that The Kinks, although still in pop opera mode, were starting to be a rock ‘n’ roll group again instead of the local salvation army band.

  • Martin Groenewold

    Bill and Gert, you missed one thing, this album was meant to be the soundtrack of a film about The Kinks being on the road.
    Compared to M Hilbillies this one was produced poorly, but if you imagine a film with these songs in the background, it gives a better feeling.
    Too bad it has become the soundtrack of a never-made-movie…

  • blamblamman

    Whoa… whoa… I am siding with David here. Showbiz is a great album. I see no reason to view it through the same lens as Village Green, Kinda Kinks or any of their earlier material. Simply put, it was a different band for a different era. The album stands on its own very very well. Great songs, great performances, a healthy dose of Davies Vaudeville.