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Monday, April 18, 2011

Dave Davies: The Other Brother

Dave Davies has always been the rockin' blues base to his brother Ray's brilliant writings of melody and wit in The Kinks.  In any other band, Dave might have been a household name.  In truth, neither are household names outside of the band.  But, although Dave is known to be solid, he's much more.  He can be as quirky as he is conventional, and as hard as he is soft.

Ray, on the other hand, isn't abnormal in his songwriting.  He's a gifted storyteller, pure and simple.  The greatest natural songwriter of all time.  Only John Lennon could be the most soul-stirring artist of all time.  And Lennon, of course, has many oddities in his catalog right alongside the sweet stuff.

Dave was prolific enough to have what could have been a full album of his own material in the late '60's, evidently.  (The Album That Never Was disc combines his songs from Kinks albums with unreleased tunes to tell the tale.)  But, Dave would soldier on with his brother as a member of The Kinks from beginning to end creating what I consider to be the greatest catalog of musical stories the world has ever heard.

But, surprisingly, when The Kinks were riding high on the Arista Records era comeback of the late '70's, in comes Dave's solo career with his self-titled debut of 1980, known officially or unofficially as AFL1-3603.  Featuring a barcode for a head on the cover with a leather jacket for the body, one could feel the decade just by looking at it.  But, wacky tunes would actually be on the second release, Glamour in '81.  And, essentially, a normal record to bookend the trilogy of '80's output with 1983's Chosen People.

AFL1-3603 was the only record of the three to get airplay and I remember seeing the album enough to know it existed.  It would be years before I shelled-out the bucks for it though.  Other albums took priority, of course.  But, when the money was flowing, (part-time at my first job), I definitely took the journey back to these three albums.  I then treated them like guilty pleasures.  This is better than what the record-buying public did with 'em, I'll tell ya that!  These albums tanked!  I believe I know why.  There's the guitar flash of useless instrumentals (similar to David Gilmour solo outings), the screechy high notes, and the very big arena rock sound.  Other bands had success with this sound, but Kinks fans didn't want records from Dave that sounded like this, I guess.  I can't say I blame the average fan in this case.  It's definitely an acquired taste.  ('70's era Rush took patience too.)  These records sounded, to me, like Christopher Cross fronting Asia !!  Yuck.  But, as I found melodies and chord progressions I liked, complaints vanished.  But, one can't be in a Kinks mood to enjoy them.  If you're in an '80's mood, yes.  And to hear the quirky '80's influence of Devo mixed with the rock crunch of one of the first hard rockers ever, you know there's gonna be a pay-off.  After all, this is the man who brought us the song that spawned both Metal and Punk ... "You Really Got Me".

My favorites from the three albums ...

The World Is Changing Hands  
Body                                          
Reveal Yourself                          
Too Serious                                
Telepathy                                    
Love Gets You                      

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