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Album Review: Ray Davies – See My Friends

4 min read

Kinks front man and founder Ray Davies has been a legend in the music industry for almost 50 years now. Rocking the radio waves in the era of flamboyance and social revolution, The Kinks brought to the world an expansive catalogue of chart toppers that garnished the outfit with commercial success and critical acclaim from an early beginning in 1963 and right through to the bands demise in 1996. Hits like You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night have never left the airwaves and remain undated and iconic. Songs like these have kept the band nestled comfortably among the worlds greatest and internationally recognized musical acts.

RayDaviesSeeMyFriendsHaving been disbanded as a band for going on 15 years hasn’t stopped Davies from refueling the legacy of The Kinks with revisiting tracks from the bands catalogue from time to time. This month saw the release of the musicians latest delivery of some of these songs with the new collaborative collection, See My Friends.

This latest offering is a fresh attempt at reigniting the music of The Kinks for a new generation, and adding to it a new commercial appeal to the younger audience of rock and pop fans of the new millennium.

Along for the ride Davies has enlisted quite an impressive array of acts to accompany and duet the icon on some of The Kinks most well loved treasures.

Obviously none of these new versions match the timeless quality of the majestic originals composed by the singer back in the swinging sixties but I don’t think there is anything Davies is trying to prove on this record other than allowing himself to have fun with some well crafted self penned classics.

He has already experimented with The Kinks classics on the 2009’s collection, The Kinks Choral Collection, in which he teamed up with the Crouch End Festival Chorus for some rather impressive renditions of some of the musicians back catologue of hits.

What’s so great about this record is hearing these songs reborn and given a dose of heaviness as well as sombre from a eclectic host of musicians, old and new.

What surprised me the most about this collection is the fact that my expectations were aimed primarily at the big names delivering some masterpiece duets where the reality was that these collaborations lacked considerably in comparison to the lesser mainstream guests.

Bruce Springsteen lights up the opening number with his ‘rough around the edges’ signature sound as he shares lead vocals with Davies on Better Things. Both voices gel fantastically together and breath life into one of The Kinks best pennings.

Waterloo Sunset is a standout on the record and sees Davies sharing the mic with the cool crooning of American folk favorite, Jackson Brown. The delivery of the song is gorgeous, both sets of vocals are married delicately and flawlessly as the tracks sweet and soulful backing vocals skip underneath a semi acoustic structure of guitars and rustic humming.

The storming guitar work and aggressive vocal hollering of James Hetfield are lightened slightly from what we know of the Metallica frontman to allow Davies a chance to fit comfortably within his own You Really Got Me. Unfortunately the track never quite lifts off to create any sort of achievement. The passing of the chorus line between the two is rather tacky mid way into the song and makes the made over nostalgic classic feel more like a karaoke attempt than a worthy remake.

Luckily the album is saved by tracks like Days/This Time Tomorrow which sees recent success story, Mumford and Sons, join Davies on another of the records highlights. Mumford and Sons vocalist, Marcus Mumford, is the perfect choice to carry this addition and the bands beautiful instrumentation compliments a Kinks fan favorite and gives true justification to the concept and creation of this record in a single song.

Lola is given a sweet kiss of life by UK starlet Paloma Faith further down the record as well as a brilliant appearance by Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan who offers his distinctively dark vocal chords to the merging track, All Day And All Of The Night/Destroyer.

Proving to be a slight hit and miss record, See My Friends does still contain a credible purpose with a prospect of opening up The Kinks hits to a whole new audience. As well as the appeal to new fans, Kinks followers are also given the opportunity of hearing some of their favorites revisited by numerous icons within the industry.

The singer has very little left to prove and See My Friends sees the music veteran having fun with nostalgia and though the record has its dips in less than obvious places throughout, See My Friends is nonetheless a quality collaboration being tossed between some true icons of the music industry as well as the inclusion of some of musics fresher faces being thrown into the mix.

Buy ‘Ray Davies – See My Friends’ from Amazon