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.
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.