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Music Review: The Kinks – UK Jive

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The 1980s were winding down and so was the career of the Kinks. The Kinks were about to be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they preceded that event with the release of one of the weaker albums of their career.

I don’t think any Kinks album was really terrible, as every release had at least a few good tunes to recommend it and a rabid fan base to praise it. Having said that, UK Jive struggled mightily to be average.

The album was not musically cohesive. Ray Davies had covered just about every topic and musical style his fertile mind could invent. A number of the tracks found him repeating himself, and sometimes brilliantly so, but the element of surprise was missing, which may be the most telling criticism of the release.

All was not lost, however. The title track was an amalgamation of styles, such as doo-wop and power rock, that fit together nicely. The song was eight years in the making as it had been left off two previous releases. The title may have been out of date at the time but the music has held up well.

“Entertainment” was the kind of Ray Davies composition that gets inside your head by its inventiveness and unpredictability. Entertainment for Ray Davies was rape, murder, and other sundry thoughts from the dark side of existence, which he wraps up into an excellent rocker.

Later CD issues are superior to the original release as they contain two Dave Davies-written bonus tracks which, when combined with his last track on the original release, make for three fairly good songs in a row. The poignant “Dear Margaret,” the hard-rocking “Bright Lights,” and the six minute “Perfect Strangers,” which explores one night stands, combine for about 12 minutes of solid music.

On the other hand, “Aggravation” is a six minute diatribe against modern society, an area Ray Davies had explored better in the late ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s. “How Do I Get Close” was a weak attempt at fitting in with the music of the time period. “Now and Then” was Ray yearning for a better world, another topic he had explored better in the past. “Down All the Days (Till 1992),” “Looney Balloon,” “War Is Over,” and “What Are We Doing” find the band adrift and never quite coming together.

As the ’90s dawned the music world was changing and the Kinks were being left behind. UK Jive was not one of their better efforts. If you want to spend some time enjoying the music of the Kinks, there are a number of better albums to visit.

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About David Bowling

  • FivePlus2

    BULLSHIT.

  • http://HeadphoneNoise.wordpress.com Jordan

    Great Post! Hope you check out my blog…starting to post tonight about up and comers!

  • Greg

    I agree it is not one of their best, but I disagree with your choices of which are good: I think Aggravation seethes with just the right amount of anger, and the War is Over could have fit nicely onto Arthur. Now and Then is a pretty song also.

  • Keyboard

    Nobody said that Uk Jive is a great record. So,I don’t understand the negative reference to the Kinks fans.

  • Tony Antonnicola

    We’ll I liked the album alot. Even a “bad” Kinks album was better than most. Ray Davies and dave davies on this particular album showed a maturity never yet seen. Give the album a few years and your view might change.

  • alex

    You know what, sod the lot of you, UK Jive is a great album. Despite of what media was around the times, lyrically it is great, musically, yes it is great – it’s The Kinks outside of their comfort zone, which is what they as a unit explored through-out. NO BAND by that point had ‘really’ the same sound as the 60’s, hence ‘progression’.

    Aggravation is a fine track and very relevant. It is not a ‘bad’ Kinks album none are bad. Not at all. The Davies Brothers showed maturity way before their time.

    The big productions ‘were’ needed and documented the band to the snare throughout eras.

    One day you will all realize how great of a band these guys actually were, rather than whom what where which and when the influences, other than the obvious – that they still influence music today. Over looked. The next album ‘phobia’ was soarly over-looked and was possibly their finest and most relevant. Infact more relevant than any new artist release.

    The Kinks don’t mess about. Never will!

  • Roger D

    What is rarely noted with this record is that much of it is the cobbled salvaging of a failed musical version of “Around the World in 80 Days” called “80 Days”, written by Ray. This accounts for the sameness and more ballad-esque style of many of the songs. The musical was shown at the La Jolla Playhouse in California to generally positive (if not enthusiastic) reviews. Despite many efforts, Ray was not able to ever get it on Broadway & this album was a stab at doing something with the many songs he wrote for the show.

    Listening to this album, I often get melancholy for the failed effort. It was better than most of the “jukebox” musicals we see so often on stage these days…

  • GP

    By 1989 my eldest son was only 6 years old. The UK Jive album, especially Aggravation, turned him into a huge Kinks fan. He liked all the old hits that he was surrounded with from the day he was born, but UK Jive really pulled the trigger for him.

  • Searcher

    UK Jive is an album qualified in a range from 3 to 8 for 7 reviews on web pages. His average is 6.1. This average is shared with Phobia and Word of the Mouth, and is superior to Think Visual (5.6). This album like other of the Kinks do not have a shared opinion among critics. There are, who puts in the lowest in the scale up who equated with State of Confusion or Everybody’s in Showbiz. In conclusion, nothing is true, nothing is a lie, everything depends on the glass through which you look.Therefore, the best music is that each person likes. Period.

  • My Kinks

    I’m no Kinks apologist, even though they’re my favorite band and I might be inclined to be one. Fortunately, I’ve never HAD to be an apologist or try to “talk myself into” liking the later albums because I genuinely enjoy UK Jive and pretty much all the albums from the 80’s and 90’s.

    Looney Balloon is one of my favortie songs EVER, by ANY band, Now and Then is fab, War is Over is tuneful and shows off the brothers’ awesome harmonies, Aggrevation is pumped up, raw and energetic. And on and on and on.

    The worst that can be said, I suppose, is that a track like, say, “What Are We Doing”? borders on being “generic” Ray Davies. But generic Ray Davies is so smart and hooky that even that goes down really smooth.

    I must have listened to this album a thousand times when it came out, and I think it still holds up today.

    UK Jive was, and is a great album.

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