Mick Avory - drums; John Beecham - trombone; Michael Cotton - trumpet; John Dalton - bass; Dave Davies - lead guitar, harmonica, vocals; Ray Davies - guitar, lead vocals; John Gosling - piano, keyboards; Alan Holmes - flute, saxophone; Davy Jones - saxophone
Songwriter, bandleader, social critic, poet and humorist all apply to The Kinks' frontman Ray Davies. Unlike other British Invasion-era bandleaders, he didn't seem comfortable as a frontman. He wasn't cute like The Beatles or cocky like The Stones. The band's sound was also different. Much less rooted in American music, The Kinks had a more overtly English sound. Davies often sang in a shy, insecure voice over some of the wildest and most raw music anybody had ever heard. Davies' songwriting rapidly developed and soon enough his anthems of unrequited love transformed into beautiful pop songs teaming with vivid imagery. Unfortunately, during those key years of 1965 through 1969, The Kinks were not permitted to enter The United States. Due to a union dispute that caused this sad state of affairs, The Kinks never got the American exposure so critical to commercial success at that time. This prevented the group from receiving the attention they so richly deserved.
Regardless, The Kinks were crafting some of the most beautiful rock songs ever recorded during these years, many featuring melodies that were as impressive as anything being recorded at the time. Just as the American banishment was lifted, the band hit big with the sexually ambiguous "Lola" and an album that attacked the music industry and record companies at a time when the Punk generation was still in diapers. The Kinks entered the 1970s with the loose, drunken approach adopted by many groups of the era, but unlike contemporaries like The Faces, Davies' lyrics often revealed a more mature confusion and sadness amidst his hedonistic fun. In 1972, The Kink's released the double album Everybody's in Show-Biz, consisting of half studio tracks and half live recordings. The studio recordings were thematically focused on an Englishman's adventures on the American road, while the live portion featured The Kinks, augmented by a horn section, enjoying themselves onstage, a real-time representation of the life described in the studio recordings.
The band, with the horn section in tow, returned to America in the latter part of 1972 to promote the album. This concert, recorded at The Felt Forum in New York City captures The Kinks in loose, but fine form, with Davies joking with the audience in a stage persona that is both satirical and highly entertaining. Despite being incomplete and a bit choppy, this performance, one of the last on the American tour, features material from Everybody's In Show-Biz, which clearly conveys Ray Davies' weariness, cynicism and humor about life as a rock and roll star.
The recording begins midway through the performance with "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues," an engaging romp down the path to self-destruction, featuring outstanding piano work from John Gosling and the horn section adding a celebratory New Orleans flavor to the proceedings. The best surprise of this performance follows with a pair of 1968 songs from the Village Green Preservation Society LP. "Picture Book" paired up with "People Take Pictures Of Each Other" were rarely performed during this era. The former, despite being a nostalgic song about reminiscing while looking through photo albums is uncharacteristically upbeat and this pairing of two vintage songs is inspired and arguably the highlight of the set.
The most outrageous sequence of the show is next with a humorous version of "Alcohol" that features extended improvisation and is highly theatrical. Complete with "Phantom Of The Opera" organ accompaniment, Ray's monologue features many moments of hilarity as he engages all the sinners in the audience with his socio-political commentary, before launching into this barrelhouse rocker, complete with New Orleans style horn arrangements. Shortly before the seven-minute mark, a break in the recording occurs due to tape stock running out. When the recording resumes approximately 5 minutes later in the performance, The Kinks are well into another powerful rocker, "Skin And Bone," that increases the tempo, volume and power of the original.
The set concludes with one of the first songs the group ever played, a rocking cover of "Good Golly Miss Molly," fronted by Dave Davies, which leaves the New York City audience demanding an encore. The Kinks oblige with a raw double dose of the group's earliest hits "You Really Got Me" and "All Day And All Of The Night."