Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Album of the Day--April 1, 2008

The Kinks
A Soap Opera
RCA Records
Produced by Ray Davies

I also heard The Kinks’ “Everybody’s a Star” in a commercial, sending me back to the original album. A Soap Opera—the full title being The Kinks Present A Soap Opera—came in the midst of their mid-70s “rock opera” phase, a year after the mammoth Preservation albums (Preservation Act 2 was two full LPs of fairly tuneless tracks that comprise an incomprehensible plot involving evil real estate developers). The story of A Soap Opera involves The Starmaker (a celebrity artist who can “turn the most ordinary person in the world into a star) taking on the guise of “Norman,” an ordinary bloke, living his life including boring 9-to-5 job, post-work trips to the boozer, even a holiday dalliance. At the end, it turns out that Norman was himself all along, fantasizing that he was a big star pretending to be him...yeah. As Dave Davies (Ray’s brother and Kinks guitarist) says in the liner notes to the 1999 Velvel reissue, “I thought it was an exercise in Ray disappearing up his own ass.” He’s got a point. It may not work as musical theater, and it would work as a collection of songs if it weren’t for the dialogue interrupting some fairly decent tunes. Still, “Everybody’s a Star” is a good song (and was Ray Davies’ poking fun at his own reputation for his skill at chronicling the lives of everyday folks) and other highlights tend to be scattered throughout, like the “When Work is Over”/”Have Another Drink” section, and the closer “Can’t Stop the Music.” Often, the record just gets too damn silly. Fortunately, the band did an intervention after this one and curtailed Ray's operatic aspirations.

No comments: