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Come Dancing With The Kinks: The Best Of The Kinks 1977-1986 - The Kinks

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Genre: Rock - Classic Rock / Artist: The Kinks / Hybrid SACD / Audio CD released 2005-03-14 at Velvel

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      05.05.2010 17:24
      Very helpful



      An interesting mix, but not worth paying over the odds for

      I shall start off this review with a bit of a confession: I originally requested that a category for this album be added to the site mostly for the sake of one song. On a disc which contains no fewer than 18 tracks, mostly taken from the sometimes rather neglected period of the Kinks' career between 1977 and 1986, that might be considered a bit of an indulgence, but as far as I could tell it was the only currently listed CD on which this song appeared. Of course, I could hardly only *write* about one song, so I then had to give the thing a proper listen. On the whole, I ended up quite glad that I had gone to the effort.

      Confusingly, there are no fewer than three versions of this album, all bearing the same cover design and all named after the 1982 single that was the band's final major hit. The original double LP and the 1986 CD release both differ slightly in their mix of tracks to the 2000 re-release I am reviewing here, and also differ somewhat from each other. For example, the first CD includes a live version of "Celluloid Heroes", which is a song I like a lot and so was sad not to see included on the more recent disc; but unlike the earlier vinyl release and the 2000 CD it does not include "Catch Me Now I'm Falling". In other words, if you're a Kinks completist, I'm afraid you're going to have to search out all three versions!

      Anyway, back to the 2000 CD. I suppose I'd better not keep you all in suspense any longer, so I'll say straight away that the track I was talking about at the start is "Living On A Thin Line". Apparently this song was used in the soundtrack to the cult TV series The Sopranos, but since I didn't watch that I have to make the shame-faced admission that I'd never heard of the song until relatively recently. It comes originally from the 1984 album Word of Mouth, and though - perhaps because its strong Sixties feel was out of fashion at the time - it was never released as a single, it is a wonderful track, melding a strongly anti-war message with a lovely, atmospheric intro and a driving, insistent main section.

      I also very much like "A Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy", which reached no. 30 in the US in 1978, thus becoming the band's first foray into the American top 40 since the mighty "Lola" eight years earlier. A lot of outfits have a go at writing a song about the music business, and it often fails horribly (as Oasis said some years later, "Please don't put your life in the hands of a rock'n'roll band who'll throw it all away"), but here it is pretty effective. I'm not very keen on the outro, which sounds uncomfortably like a Casio keyboard demo tune, but for the most part Ray Davies portrays well and quite affectingly the experience of both musicians and fans "on the edge of reality".

      Other tracks I really liked included "Do It Again", a real rocker that is reminiscent of "All Day And All Of The Night" but which may actually be better; "Misfits", which can be read as something of a prequel to "A Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy" and brings to mind Pulp's much later "Mis-shapes"; the stomping blues of "A Gallon Of Gas"; and - rather embarrassingly perhaps - the out-and-out disco of "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman". Well, it was 1979, you know; it was practically compulsory! Also worth mentioning, though really as a curiosity more than anything else, is "Destroyer", a very strange song which combines the riff from "All Day And All Of The Night" with a story about Lola - yes, *that* Lola. You really do have to listen to this one yourself; it's very, very odd indeed!

      On the other hand, there are some fairly poor efforts in here. "Catch Me Now I'm Falling" is little more than an inferior rip-off of The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and a song I'd skip at least eight times out of ten. "Good Day" tries hard to be a bright and breezy piece of pop, harmonica and all, but it's rather repetitive, has awkward lyrics ("If we blow away the past with a bloody great blast / Make it fast, make it fast" - ye-esss, as Jeremy Paxman might say) and never really hooks you in. And then there's "Low Budget", which is just plain horrible ("We're in low budget-ville, where nothin' can last") and possibly one of the worst songs The Kinks ever made. It feels like the theme tune to an "On the Buses" feature film. They'd deserve each other.

      The two live performances the CD are of songs from an earlier period of The Kinks' existence; the performances themselves, however, are both from 1980, so do fit in with the rest of this disc. The first is, inevitably, "Lola", and to be honest I'm not very keen on this version. I'm sure it was electric if you were actually there, but on a CD you can hear Davies' rather strained voice a bit too well and both his whooping and the audience participation is just irritating. The studio version is vastly superior. The other live track, "You Really Got Me", is given a rather more straightforward treatment and is much better, with a great guitar solo halfway through, although the song is played a little too fast for my taste.

      Overall, then, Come Dancing with the Kinks has its ups and downs, and it would be pushing it an awful lot to claim that it was any more than a decent effort overall. Some judicious programming of your CD player can improve things no end - with 75 minutes of music to choose from you should still have a decent selection - but you won't want to listen to the lot in one go, or in some cases, ever. However, the highs are still pretty high, and "Living On A Thin Line" is such a triumph that it makes you forgive the dross, to a certain extent at least. If you're just looking for a "Best Of" compilation then this isn't it, but so long as you keep your wits about you it's nevertheless worth a look.

      As things stand, the only physical version of this album available new in the UK is the import SACD release, which will set you back a whopping £22.49 at Amazon; even with free postage, that's a lot to pay for a single disc. I did find a couple of online stores which had cheaper headline prices, but they were both shipping the CD from the US and charging quite a lot for the privilege. For a cheaper option, you can buy used (around a tenner), download the MP3 album (£6.99 at Amazon) or listen to all the tracks on Spotify for free.

      Track listing
      1. Come Dancing
      2. Low Budget
      3. Catch Me Now I'm Falling
      4. A Gallon Of Gas
      5. (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman
      6. Sleepwalker
      7. Full Moon
      8. Misfits
      9. A Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy
      10. Do It Again
      11. Better Things
      12. Lola (Live)
      13. You Really Got Me (Live)
      14. Good Day
      15. Living On A Thin Line
      16. Destroyer
      17. Don't Forget To Dance
      18. Father Christmas


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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Come Dancing
      2 Low Budget
      3 Catch Me Now I'm Falling
      4 Gallon of Gas
      5 (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman [Disco Edit]
      6 Sleepwalker
      7 Full Moon
      8 Misfits
      9 Rock & Roll Fantasy
      10 Do It Again
      11 Better Things
      12 Lola (Live) [Live]
      13 You Really Got Me (Live) [Live]
      14 Good Day
      15 Living on a Thin Line
      16 Destroyer
      17 Don't Forget to Dance
      18 Father Christmas

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