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Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story Hardcover – October 15, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling; 1ST edition (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402778910
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402778919
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Kinks frontman published X-Ray, his 'unauthorized autobiography,' in 1994, long before his peers started telling their own tales of decadence and recovery. Americana is alternately a sequel and parallel companion piece to X-Ray, chronicling his later years and his lifelong relationship with the country and culture that inspired him. . . . Davies is candid and honest about his personal and creative struggles. . . . [He writes] 'the immovable "You" is always there, whether you like it or not.'” —The New York Times     

About the Author

Iconic rock legend Ray Davies inspired generations of musicians—from the Who, the Clash, and the Ramones to Black Sabbath—as lead singer and songwriter of the Kinks. The band's string of top ten international hits include “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” “Till the End of the Day,” “Come Dancing,” and of course, “Lola.” In 1990, the Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Davies has also acted, directed, and produced shows for theater and television. Since the Kinks disbanded he has embarked on a solo career and continues to tour and record. Davies was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004, and in 2012, his performance of the Kinks song “Waterloo Sunset” was a highlight of the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. On his most recent album, See My Friends (2011), he collaborated with such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, and Jon Bon Jovi.

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Customer Reviews

It was a very easy and entertaining read.
Lounge Guy
Ray's writing here is characteristically sharp, incisive, and beautiful.
gizmo13
I highly recommend this book for anyone but for Kinks fans, it's a must.
Lori Nelson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By William Ashbless on October 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A follow-up to 1994's "X-Ray," this continues the seminal British band through their "American" dominated Arista Records years.

This period's best known albums included 1979s Low Budget (featuring "Catch Me Now I'm Falling" and "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman)"), the live double LP "One for the Road," 1981s Give The People What They Want ("Destroyer," "Better Things") and 1983s State Of Confusion ("Come Dancing," "Don't Forget To Dance"), The book also covers Ray's getting shot in the leg in New Orleans, which could have killed him.

[NOTE: I used "Uncut Magazine Presents THE KINKS, Winter 2012 (Ultimate Music Guide, No. 12)" as a reference while I was reading this book, for background on the albums and singles talked about -- highly recommended, and available here on Amazon.]

This is all very interesting reading. There are many amusing stories involving "life on the road," and loads of name-dropping. The reader also gets a sense of the record business (and Davies' distaste for the corporate side of things), but Ray also is quite clear that he was a rather difficult person to deal with. Davies, even while among the band and the crew and the fans, paints a picture of a rather introverted person offstage. Some of this rings true and some less so -- one gets the impression of Ray being less than fully involved in record company negotiations, for instance, which is a bit hard to believe.

The writing style varies from casual and chatty to the personal and revelatory. It's a much more straightforward work than the thinly diguised fiction of "X-Ray."

Many readers, though, might have been craving a bit more. While there is much that's "personal," there is less that is "intimate," if that makes any sense.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By gizmo13 on October 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ray Davies' Americana is one of the greatest achievements in a stellar career leading the fabulous Kinks, striking out as a solo artist, and developing countless interesting projects for film, stage, and publishing.

Unlike the clever gimmicks employed in Ray's excellent first autobiographical book, XRay, Americana gives us a pure first person account, in amazingly comprehensive and honest detail, of Davies' experiences in America. There is rich detail about his life after the millennium in New Orleans, leading up to the shooting incident and recovery, with lots of information about that crime that has never before been disclosed. This recent history is told on a parallel track with the amazing history of the Kinks in America, beginning with their ill-fated 1965 tour and the subsequent ban that kept them out of the States until 1969.

The detailed anecdotes of how the Kinks gradually re-introduced themselves to America and eventually became one of the few hugely successful touring bands from the British Invasion period in the States during the 1970's and 1980's is fascinating, and filled with many priceless anecdotes about interactions with American music business giants like Bill Graham and Clive Davis. But Ray's loving memories of lesser-known figures who played roles in the Kinks' saga are perhaps the most touching. There is no mean-spirited score-settling material in this book...no fuel for the infamous feud between Ray and Dave, or invective toward anyone else.

Ray's writing here is characteristically sharp, incisive, and beautiful. As I got closer to the end of the book I found myself slowing down, because I did not want the book to end. Americana is indispensable to any fan of Ray Davies and the Kinks, and will make a surprisingly good read even to the uninitiated. Spectacular.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jersey Kid on December 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I eagerly awaited arrival of this book, having enjoyed every other book Mr. Davies has written. After beginning it on the day it arrived, I made it about halfway before putting it aside.

It's written in numerous styles, ranging from condescending (about "my band, The Kinks [a phrase he uses every time that stupendous outfit comes up]); to whiny self-confessional (about his writing block that seems to have extended for years and his notorious/infamous/self-destructive relationships with women); to disingenuous (a chapter that is simply his tour itinerary for a year); to stunningly informative (the day he was shot and almost died). The problem with this approach is that one never really gets into the flow of the narrative. It's as if the book was created from a series of stories told at some bar by an inebriated author who veers from topic to topic in his discourse.

Understand, I wanted to enjoy this book. I wanted to be entertained and informed. I wanted to continue to admire Ray Davies from afar as I have since the first time I saw The Kinks. As it is, I will continue to love the music - right up to and including `Other People's Lives' - but I'm not likely to buy another book by him....unless it's X-Ray 2.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By HeyNow on February 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ok, I am HUGE Kinks guy. Love Ray's post-Kinks work. Others Peoples Lives could be on my top 25 of all time list. X-Ray - his "unauthorized autobiography" pretty much rose to the standard of literature; incredibly rare for genre of rock bio's. This one simply goes in the other direction. Just seems like very little point to it. Does a Kinks/Davies guy learn anything new in here that's worth knowing? And is there any reason here that a non-Kinks/Davies person would want to read it? Do we learn anything new about the inner-dynamics of the band or his mates? Anything new about the times he writes about? (Ok, he was shot and recovered in New Orleans - that's worth ten pages) Kinda interesting; the opening paragraphs of most of the chapters are well-written, in a college-essay kinda way. But then the writing in each falls way off. Having read and loved X-Ray, and loved his music, can't help thinking that there is a really good book left in Ray. This absolutely is not it. If you want to learn something about the story of the Kinks, are dying to spend a couple of bucks, and don't alredy have 'em; buy the Lola and Schoolboys albums. Or Storyteller, though it's not as good. They're kinda autobiographical. Or X-Ray. But, really, don't bother with this one. And, by the way, it even tends to confirm what I've long-suspected; although Ray is a really gifted musical artist, he's probably a bit of a jerk. That's ok; we don't have to love our artists as people. Hey, Ray; get into the studio. And in a few years when you feel like telling us what life on the road was like - try again. I'll buy it again.
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