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 at the late show on the first of two consecutive nights at Boston's Orpheum Theater, captures The Kinks in loose, drunken form. Unlike the early show, where Ray was sober, this set has a more distinct reckless abandon to it. 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 late show begins in progress with "Top of the Pops," Ray's classic commentary on the recording industry. It's fairly apparent right off the bat that the group has been heavily indulging since the early show. Next, they engage the audience with a run through of classic hits, including a loose "Till the End of the Day," an unfortunately truncated, but nonetheless enticing "Waterloo Sunset," "Well Respected Man," and the happy-go-lucky "Sunny Afternoon." Embracing his drunkenness, Ray jokingly assumes the role of a country bumpkin (or his interpretation of one) for a romp through the title song off their Muswell Hillbillies album, before launching into a humorous "Apeman" and an audience sing-a-long on "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. 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 ragged romps down the path to self-destruction. The former features a "Banana Boat Song" prelude from Ray, before the group launches into this celebration of drunkenness. They conclude the newest material with the powerful rocker, "Skin and Bone," increasing the tempo, volume, and power of the original.
The set ends with a raw double dose of the groups earliest hits, "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night," bringing this ragged performance to a close. While the early show is a far better performance, the late show still has its moments. During this era, The Kinks unpredictability on stage was to be expected. Regardless of their overindulgences, The Kinks still exude a sense of loose, ragged fun, featuring the antics of a frontman who had turned stage fright into a way of life.