Ray Davies - guitar, lead vocals; Dave Davies - lead guitar, harmonica, vocals; John Dalton - bass; John Gosling - keyboards; Mick Avory - drums; John Beecham - trombone; Michael Cotton - trumpet; 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. 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 rawest 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. Do to a union dispute that caused this sad state of affairs, The Kinks did not get the American exposure so critical to commercial success at that time. This prevented the group from 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," followed by an album that viciously attacked the music industry and record companies at a time when the punk generation was still in diapers. The Kinks entered the 1970s with a similar loose, drunken approach as other groups of the era, but unlike contemporaries like the Faces, Davies lyrics often revealed a more mature confusion and sadness amidst the 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 Englishmen'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 on the first of two consecutive nights at Boston's Orpheum Theater, captures The Kinks in loose, drunken form. In addition to classic Kinks' hits, this performance also features material from Everybody's in Show-biz, which clearly showcases Ray Davies' weariness and cynicism about life as a rock 'n' roll star.
The recording begins with Ray's "You're Looking Fine," performed as a medley containing the classic 1950s hits, "Little Queenie," "Shakin' All Over" and "Be Bop A Lu La." Raw and loose, one can immediately tell the group is in fine form here and during the "Shakin' All Over" sequence within this opening piece, Dave rips into the savage guitar riff from The Who's legendary version on Live At Leeds. Next, Ray Davies engages the audience on three of the group's classic hits, "Sunny Afternoon," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" and "Lola." The next half hour or so is primarily devoted to material featured on Everybody's In Show-biz, beginning with Davies' greatest ballad of this period, "Celluloid Heroes," a bittersweet rumination on dead Hollywood screen icons which graphically displays his melancholic longing for a simpler time. Davies' vocal is particular touching on this number as he wishes his life was like a movie, "because celluloid heroes never feel any pain / And celluloid heroes never really die." They continue with the pounding road rockers, "Here Comes Yet Another Day" and "Brainwashed." Following a short campy "Mr. Wonderful," the band applies this campiness to two Muswell Hillbillies tracks that were also featured on the live portion of Everybody's In Showbiz. The barrelhouse rocker, "Alcohol," complete with New Orleans style horn arrangements and "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues," are both thoroughly engaging romps down the path to self-destruction. The former features a particularly humorous prelude from Ray, before the group launches into a celebration of drunkenness. They conclude the newest material with another powerful rocker, "Skin And Bone," increasing the tempo, volume and power of the original and proving that much of the newer material was far more energized live on stage.
The set ends with a raw double dose of the group's earliest hits, "You Really Got Me" and a truncated "All Day And All Of The Night." The former includes a trademark raunchy guitar solo from Dave Davies and both songs are punched up by the horn section, leaving the audience clamoring for more. The encore features a rollicking take on "Good Golly Miss Molly," one of the first cover songs the group played as teenagers, featuring Dave Davies fronting the band on vocals. A joyous "Victoria" follows, bringing this performance to a close, exuding a sense of loose, ragged fun, featuring the antics of a frontman who had turned stage fright into a way of life. For a textbook example of the schizophrenic nature of this band, check out the late show from this night, when reckless abandon becomes extreme.