Ray Davies - guitar, vocals; Dave Davies - lead guitar, vocals; Andy Pyle - bass; John Gosling - piano, keyboards; Mick Avory - drums; Nick Newell - sax; Debbie Doss - background vocals; Shirley Roden - background vocals
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 were not getting the American exposure so critical at that time, and this unquestionably prevented the group from the attention they so richly deserved. The Kinks were creating 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 attacked the music industry and record company accounting at a time when the Punk generation was still in diapers. The band trailed on with moderate success in the early 1970s, with Davies composing albums that were more like theatrical presentations. Changing labels in 1976, Davies and the band developed some new hard rocking material and with record company support, began staging their comeback.
The album, Sleepwalker, went Top 40 and the group hit the road to promote it. Armed with strong new material and renewed radio interest in their catalogue, the 1977 tour would attract large numbers of fans and be remembered as one of their greatest.
There is no better example of that tour, than their now legendary stop at Winterland in San Francisco. This performance covers all the bases, from the raw simplicity of "You Really Got Me" and "All Day And All Of The Night" to the deep introspective beauty of Waterloo Sunset." Healthy doses of the recent material from "Schoolboys In Disgrace" and "Sleepwalker" are met with approval and the band rocks harder than ever. Davies voice displays some wear and tear, but for the most part sounds confident and comfortable.
Those who love the band's comeback era will find no better live example of that material than this performance. It is also surprising just how brightly some of the bands early 1970s material actually shines. "Celluloid Heroes" is a perfect example of this. Older fans will be delighted to find "A Well Respected Man," sing-a-long renditions of "Sunny Afternoon" and "Lola" and a full tilt "Victoria" to end the night.