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. The Kinks weren'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 rawest music anybody had ever heard. Davies' songwriting rapidly developed and soon enough his anthems of unrequited love transformed into beautiful pop songs teeming 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 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 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 Providence, Rhode Island's Palace Theater, 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. In addition to several classic hits, this performance features a wealth of material from Everybody's In Show-Biz, that clearly showcase Ray Davies' weariness, cynicism, and humor about life as a rock 'n' roll star.
The recording begins in progress, with Davies engaging the audience to sing along during three of the group's classic hits, "Sunny Afternoon," "A Well Respected Man" and "Lola." The next half hour or so is devoted exclusively to material featured on Everybody's In Show-biz, beginning with Davies' greatest ballad of this period, "Celluloid Heroes." This bittersweet rumination on dead Hollywood screen icons vividly displays his melancholic longing for a simpler time. Davies vocal is particular touching on this number as he wishes his life were like a movie, "because celluloid heroes never feel any pain / And celluloid heroes never really die." Next up, The Kinks pound out the road rockers, "Here Comes Yet Another Day" and "Brainwashed." Following a short and 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 new material with another powerful rocker, "Skin and Bone," increasing the tempo, volume, and power of the original.
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 a rare drum solo interlude by Mick Avory and both songs are punched up by the horn section, leaving the audience clamoring for more. The tape stock unfortunately runs out during the encore, 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. Throughout this performance, The Kinks exude a sense of loose, ragged fun, showcasing the antics of a frontman who had turned stage fright into a way of life.