This Is Where I Belong: The Songs of Ray Davies & The Kinks
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At his best, the Kinks' Ray Davies is one of the cleverest writers in pop, managing to wring universal appeal from a wholly and unapologetically English perspective. Most of the artists featured on This Is Where I Belong are American, and most acquit themselves admirably. Hosannas must be directed at Fountains of Wayne's giddy reading of "Better Things," Cracker's rousing "Victoria," an intricate working of "Art Lover" by Lambchop, and a spectacular, turbocharged "Who'll Be the Next in Line" by Queens of the Stone Age. The decision to close the album with Davies himself performing one of his finest songs--"Waterloo Sunset"--with one of his able heirs, Damon Albarn of Blur, is a neat touch. --Andrew Mueller
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Top Customer Reviews
This album is one of the special tribute albums where the artists do justice to the original but bring a new perspective or sound to the song. "Muswell Hillbilly", covered by Tim OBrien, sounds like it is sung by an Appalachian, not an East Londoner. Lambchop's "Art Lover", underscoring the eerie lyrics, makes the protagonist of the song seem like a John Waybe Gacy pedophile serial killer and is a chilling masterpiece. I actually like this cover better than the original, as blasphamous as that might sound to my fellow Kinks fans. Steve Forbert brings a fresh vibrancy to "Starstruck" that is totally in keeping with the original, but creating a different tone.
This is a must for Ray Davies and Kinks fans, as the stength of Davies' songs shine through the sparkling arrangements on this wonderful compilation album.
Some tracks are very true to the original whereas others are treated in new and different ways - in some cases in very exciting ways.
The opening track "Better Days" from "Give the People What They Want" is a great song, but it always sounded a little rough and demo-like to my ears. Very interesting to learn from Davies own well-written liner-notes that it really was only demo that was included on the album. A great opener here given a power-pop treatment by Fountains of Wayne.
Steve Forbert's version of "Starstruck" from Village Green P.S. is just as great. Musically more polished than the opener, but Forbert's raw vocals give this fine song a new edge.
"Stop Your Sobbing" is given an acoustic treatment by Jonathan Richman. Very nice, which is also Bebel Gilberto's version of "No Return", which is probably the only bossa-nova song Davies ever wrote. Ray reveals that the song was written with Bebel's mother Astrud ( the girl from Ipanema ) in mind.
"A Well Respected Man" originally was a raw half-acoustic recording. This new version by Josh Rouse has been given a completely different more polished feel - the satire may not be quite as obvious as on the original but great to hear the song interpreted so differently.
"Victoria" is probably too true to the original "Arthur" version to make it really interesting.
"Who'll Be the Next in Line" is good but no more.
Another stand-out is the overlooked gem "Big Sky" from Village G.P.S. Though this new recording has been given an almost identical arrangement, the vocals are more up front than on the original which is great. Though the original is great too, I always felt it deserved a better recording.
Lambchop's version of another "Give the People What They Want" song is very different from the original. Darker and slower. Maybe this version does quite capture the ambiguity of the the Kinks'version.
"Picture Book" is another gem from the Village G.P.S. - one the greatest albums of all time - check out the the deluxe version and enjoy the original along a lot equally great out-takes. This new version is charming and fine!
If you didn't know better you would have thought "Muswell Hillbilly" was an old Hank Williams song; at least that's what Tim O'Brian makes the song sound like.
From "Lola Versus Powerman" comes another overlooked song - I do remember the Kinks played the song in their 1974 Denmark tour alongside their Preservation songs. This new version comes close to the original; the singer even sounds like Davies at times - a fine track.
"Till the End of the Day" is a great rocker but Fastball really don't add anything to it; except maybe make you want to hear the original again.
The title track was originally only released as the B-side to an obscure 1967 European single. Ron Sexsmith new version almost sounds like a 1967 recording too. Solid, but no more.
From "Face to Face" comes the oriental inspired "Fancy" - one on Davies most personal early songs, but also one of the least catchy.
Ray Davies himself along with Damon Albarn closes the album with a live version of "Waterloo Sunset" - a song that has been called the greatest single of the late 1960's.
A worthy tribute to one of the finest songwriters of rock during 4 decades.
It's a somewhat eclectic collection of songs. There are a couple of U.S. hits ("A Well Respected Man" and "Who'll Be the Next in Line") and U.K hits ("Waterloo Sunset" and "Victoria"), but there are no covers of their early hits like "You Really Got Me" or "All Day and All of the Night." Instead, most of the artists tend to lean more toward the introspective side of Ray's songbook.
Most of the artists tend to remain fairly faithful to the original Kinks' arrangements. So when you listen to Steve Forbert do "Starstruck" or Matthew Sweet perform "Big Sky," they are certainly lovingly done, but they don't really bring anything new to the songs.
There are, however, a handful of artists who approach the songs from a new angle. For example, Josh Rouse (a native Nebraskan, by the way) gives his reading of "A Well Respected Man" a haunting quality with his delicate vocal delivery. Bluegrass veteran Tim O'Brien gives "Muswell Hillbilly" a honky-tonk treatment complete with steel guitar and fiddle.
And then there is the duet with Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Ray Davies himself on perhaps his most beautiful song, "Waterloo Sunset." This version was recorded live in 1995 for a British TV show.
Taken altogether, this is a wonderful collection of songs. It certainly offers much to enjoy for any Kinks fan, and it's encouraging to see these songs being embraced by another generation of musicians. RECOMMENDED [Running time - 50:33]
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