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 The title may have been out of date at the time but the music has held up well.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.