Ray Davies - guitar, lead vocals; Dave Davies - lead guitar, harmonica, vocals; John Gosling - piano, keyboards; John Dalton - bass; Mick Avory - drums; Alan Holmes - baritone sax; Rex Myers - alto saxophone; Laurie Brown - tenor sax, trumpet, flute; Michael Cotton - trumpet; John Beecham - trombone
Songwriter, bandleader, social critic, poet, and humorist all apply to the Kinks front man Ray Davies. Unlike other British Invasion-era bandleaders, he didn't seem comfortable as a front man. 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 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 Kinks 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 Kinks, with a horn section in tow, returned to America in the latter part of 1972 and again in early 1973 to promote the album. This concert, recorded at St. John's University, captures the Kinks in typically loose 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 showcases Ray Davies' weariness, cynicism, and humor about life as a rock 'n' roll star.
The recording begins well in progress, just as the Kinks are finishing up "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues." They continue with the pounding road rocker, "Here Comes Yet Another Day" followed by Ray leading the way into a campy version of "Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner."
One of the surprises is next with the 1968 song, "Picture Book," rarely performed during this era. Despite it being a nostalgic song about reminiscing while looking through photo albums, this is uncharacteristically upbeat. Here the song features an extended outro sequence that showcases John Gosling's piano playing, while Ray and the band improvise a bit. "Celluloid Heroes," Ray's bittersweet rumination on dead Hollywood screen icons is next, vividly displaying his melancholic longing for a simpler time. His 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." The classic Kinks hit, "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion," follows.
As a prelude to "Lola," Ray veers off into a humorous monologue regarding homosexuality and various hotel adventures. "Lola" is then performed in a loose lackadaisical manner, which soon becomes an audience sing-a-long. The campiness continues immediately afterward, with Ray transforming himself into a Las Vegas-style lounge singer for a go at "My Way," which serves as a prelude to the outrageous version of "Alcohol" which follows. Nearly nine minutes long, this features another spontaneous monologue from Ray 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.
As the set winds to a close, the Kinks perform one of the first songs they ever learned, a rocking cover of Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly," leaving the 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" played back to back.
Due to its incomplete nature, tacked on the end is an outtake of "One Of The Survivors." Performed earlier in the evening, this is a sneak preview of the album in progress at the time, Preservation Act 1. This song is a clear-cut celebration of rock 'n' roll, with Ray updating a classic character—Johnny Thunder—first introduced four years earlier on the album Village Green Preservation Society.