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Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story Hardcover – October 15, 2013
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was purchased for my brother as a Christmas gift. He was immediately hooked and couldn't put it down.Published 7 months ago by Danielle M.
**Review originally appeared at https://midnighttosix.wordpress.com
“Ray Davies has written something really good” isn’t exactly a headline-worthy statement – the man... Read more
Ray Davies writes printed words as well as songs. His book provides an interesting insight into England's transition between the 1970's and the Blair government . Read morePublished 10 months ago by John E. Dunlap