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Working Man's Cafe

23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 19, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Working Man s Cafe a new studio album by legendary musician and Rock n Roll Hall of Fame member Ray Davies (founder, singer, songwriter of The Kinks), features 12 new songs written by Davies, and co-produced with Grammy® Award winning producer/engineer Ray Kennedy (Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle). Recorded in Nashville, Working Man s Café is Davies second solo album, following his solo debut Other People s Lives, released in 2006.

Working Man s Café, focuses on the plight of the worker, the every day man around the world. It is Davies American record (many of the songs were written and all produced in the US) describing the changes he s seen in this country since he first started visiting in the 60s. In a recent four star Mojo Magazine review Davies is described as having a tourist s blend of enchantment and bafflement when writing about the United States

2008 must be an interesting year to have an outsider's view on the US and its role in the world, and when Ray Davies sings "everywhere I go it looks and feels like America," it's hard to miss a bit of the bitterness in the observation. His second studio solo album in three years, Working Man's Cafe feels like exactly the album a 60-something rocker would craft--assured and direct yet searching and restless, a glimpse into the head of a man who's comfortable in his skin but still wonders how he fits into a world that seems to be turning faster and stranger as the years pass by. Davies has cultivated this contraposition of bitter and sweet, of intertwining comfort and conflict throughout his years leading the Kinks, and now continues into what looks to be a fruitful solo career. There's a bit of George Harrison in the melody and sentiment of "One More Time," acknowledging the widening gap between powerful corporations and the overtaxed little guy, while still envisioning the possibility of a brighter future. And the title track's half-acidic, half-nostalgic take on modern homogenization follows the classic Davies approach of reporting what he sees around him with one eye toward a fading past: "I bought a pair of new designer pants where the fruit and veg man used to stand." It's nice to note that, 40 years on, the songwriter that skewered '60s Brits with "A Well-Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" still wields a sharpened pen and pulls no punches. --Ben Heege

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Vietnam Cowboys (4:12)
  2. You re Asking Me (3:22)
  3. Working Man s Café (3:41)
  4. Morphine Song (4:18)
  5. In A Moment (4:29)
  6. Peace In Our Time (4:39)
  7. No One Listen (3:13)
  8. Imaginary Man (4:09)
  9. One More Time (4:28)
  10. The Voodoo Walk (4:24)
  11. Hymn For A New Age (3:42)
  12. The Real World (5:06)
  13. Angola (Wrong Side Of The Law) (4:29)
  14. Vietnam Cowboys (demo) (2:52)
  15. The Voodoo Walk (demo) (4:25)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 19, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New West Records
  • ASIN: B0010ZOCIU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,448 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jack on February 20, 2008
Format: Audio CD
There is no need to go into great details here, suffice to say that Ray Davies has produced a classic album where every track is musically strong, has something to say about the world, and displays the artists' singular style with romance, a social conscience, and, of course, a sense of humor. If you loved the great Kinks' albums (Lola, Arthur, Village Green, Muswell Hillbillies) you will recognize the touches that Ray used then and re-explores on Workingman's Cafe. It's not a retread, it's an artist going in many musical directions, but never forgetting to be true to himelf. In this age of Attention Deficit Disorder and single tracks, one of the masters has asked us to listen for 45 minutes, if you chose to stay focused you'll enjoy the ride and be that much wiser for it. Ray's cd is a grand slam homer that is still in flight.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Gambino on February 20, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Few singer songwriters have the ability to truly look beyond their own perimeters. In contrast, Mr. Davies has the rare skill to consistently craft infectious, thoughtful and insightful songs about the human condition at large. While the mediocrity of mankind has not escaped him, the critical observations in his music are constructed within the context of compassion and humor. With age and wisdom, he may now view particular aspects of life with some resignation...but never bitterness.

"Working Man's Cafe" is a strong follow up to his superb, meticulous first true solo effort "Other Peoples Lives" released in 2006. I have been listening to the import version of WMC for a few months now but also purchased the U.S. release because it contains two additional excellent new songs as well as alternate versions of other tracks. The music on this collection feels quite visceral and spontaneous. It would be well suited for live performances. The sound is clearly 21st century, yet there are scattered shards within that make one reminiscent of the classic Kinks albums such as "Arthur" and "Something Else". This CD is smooth listening from start to finish and your favorites are likely to shift with time. Vocally Ray Davies is as strong as ever and much attention has been given to the sound quality and arrangements. The title cut along with: "Imaginary Man", Vietnam Cowboys and especially "In a Moment" get honorable mention but all the songs are memorable in their own way. Uninitiated listeners not familiar with this performer's body of work should find this collection very enjoyable even if they lack the proclivity to ruminate over the lyrics like some of us might.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mathieu B. Prevost on December 4, 2007
Format: MP3 Music
he's back and it couldn't happen fast enough for me. there is nothing tentative about this collection. ray has found his footing and everything here is confident and fun. working with ray kennedy in nashville (again) he has crafted a collection with strong songwriting and some truly fine playing. there's something for everyone here. i've always found it difficult to separate ray from his band but there's really no need to. this reminds me of a kinks record, only with a fatter production. great songwriting.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hal st soul on June 17, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Getting shot by muggers in New Orleans unexpectedly drove Davies back to the studio.
It seems incredible that a songwriter as respected and acclaimed as Davies should only be releasing his second solo record in 2007.
That said, "Working Man's Café" is not likely to disappoint generations of Davies fans.
Lyrically speaking, all his trademark wry and sardonic observations on life are present. As one of rock music's most lauded social commentators Ray peppers the majority of these new songs with nicely-honed and bang up-to-date assessments of the world as he sees it today: a conflicted, contradictory and globalized shopping centre mired in double standards and creeping 'Americanisation'.
You only have to listen to "Waterloo Sunset" to realise that Ray Davies has always had a tendency to wrap his disillusionment in the flag of nostalgia. He hankers for the past on this new album too, but with a brusqueness which would have embarrassed his younger self - before finally dragging himself back towards something approaching contentment.
The album captures Davies's revulsion with Tony Blair's Britain, his relocation to New Orleans, and the reflections on mortality which followed his shooting in the Crescent City (after chasing a mugger). Some of the material is mined directly from his experience.
This could be judged as the grumpy old man of The Kinks indulging in some nostalgia-driven baby-boomer whingeing.
Instead, Davies, who remains an engaging and energetic performer at 64, pinpoints the concerns of the moment from the perspective of a man who has seen England and the world beyond it change almost beyond recognition... and as far as Ray is concerned, not for the better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jersey Kid on March 4, 2008
Format: Audio CD
A somewhat unique opportunity presented itself the other day. I had to drive roughly three and half hours to see my son off for his third rotation in Iraq. No one accompanied me and so I was able to listen to Ray Davies' Working Man's Café in its entirety with little or no interruption.

By the end of the day, I have come away quite joyous over the album and its content. As you might expect from any Kinks and/or Ray Davies set of songs - really one and the same, I guess - the message is of an intensely personal nature. It's one man's view of the world and its events. However, at the same time, because of Mr. Davies' amazing, transcendent ability to view both the one and the whole at the same time, it is a work that will resonate with almost anyone.

And, coming, as it does, in the midst of what could well be a profound sea-change in the body politic of the United States, it is eerily prescient that this album is quite likely the least English of any that Davies or the band has done with only two or three songs addressing that little island across the pond. But, despite the US-centricness of the album, Mr. Davies still mourns and rails against those wishing to destroy "little shops, china cups and virginity." But, this time many of the attacks are directed against entities far more tangible and, in point of fact, much more risky. Davies takes on - as he has many times in the past - the duel-headed leviathan of corporate disdain and bureaucracy.

The former is addressed in the first cut, a melodic tirade about the movement of jobs offshore and portrayed against a backdrop of New Orleans. It could have just as well been an attack on the Queen Mary II having to be built in France. There are also other references to lost jobs and lost dreams on other cuts.
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