PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

The Kinks: Everybody's in Show-Biz

A convoluted masterpiece in large part because Ray Davies passionately hates his life and lies with every breath -- and likewise, fears his death.


The Kinks

Everybody's in Show-Biz

Label: RCA / Legacy
US Release Date: 2016-06-03
UK Release Date: 2016-06-03
Amazon
iTunes

I pity the poor rock star who wishes he would've stayed home, or at least been allowed to come to America during the four years he and his band were banned from the country for bad behavior and not paying union dues. Now Ray Davies came back and all he did was complain about the excess food, the road tripping, the hotel rooms, and the perils of celebrity. Boo hoo. And then he made fun at those who feel sympathy for him. This would seem to be the ingredients of a terrible, self-indulgent album but strangely—magically—the opposite is true. The Kinks’ 1972 Everybody’s in Show-Biz is a convoluted masterpiece in large part because Davies passionately hates his life and lies with every breath—and likewise, fears his death. This allows him to mock everyone and everything, including himself, with a moustache-twirling sneer.

Everybody’s in Show-Biz was originally released as a double album, one comprised of a ten song studio disc, the other a live performance recorded at Carnegie Hall. The first disc showcases self-obsession and powers of observation. He can’t decide what is real and what is an illusion. He can’t distinguish between the important things in life and momentary sensations. Songs, like “Hear Comes Another Day”, “Sitting in My Hotel”, and “You Don’t Know My Name” veer from the decadent to the satiric with wit and verve as he complains about everything from not having time to changes his underwear to “prancing around the room like some outrageous poof.” Davies tries to have it both ways: the gritty rocker, the aesthete artist.

All of this is done to a wonderful vaudeville style accompaniment. The band is in top form, especially brother Dave on guitar and drummer Mick Avory. They even added a horn section to punctuate the punch lines. Davies is a funny guy. He can make fun of gluttony on “Maximum Consumption”, “Motorway” and “Hot Potatoes” with the glee of a bulimic at a buffet.

The live disc highlights The Kinks’ ability as performers. The excitement of the crowd becomes self-evident during the show as they become part of the act. When the band breaks out into Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song”, probably the most unhip tune one could imagine in 1972, the audience answers back during the sing along as if it were the national anthem. The Kinks do rousing versions of songs from their recent Muswell Hilbillies including “Alcohol”, “Skin and Bones”, and "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues". Many critics believe this is the best live recording, official or bootleg, ever made of the band.

All of this is old news. The original release has been available on compact disc for years. However, RCA/Legacy has re-released Everybody’s in Show-Biz in a greatly expanded format. The label put the first two records (originally released separately as a double-disc) on one CD, and included another 17-track disc with previously unissued live material and studio session outtakes from 1972. Of particular noteworthiness is the cut “History”, one that as far as I can tell has never been recorded. Davies sings about the ordinary people, the masses whose stories never make it to British museums. While museums have changes since then and now are much more inclusive, Davies thrust still spills blood. The hidden purposes behind such institutions still remain largely unquestioned, and the thin line between pride and bigotry has become harder to discern.

Is the new disc worth buying the original CD again? Not if you have it already, but if you don’t this provides a wonderful excuse to buy this one. It’s three CDs for the price of one! And oh yes, the title song (sic: “Celluloid Heroes”) which became a classic FM staple still has the power to melt the heart of any movie fan. George Saunders, Bela Lugosi, Mickey Rooney, and Rudolph Valentino are as worthy as Greta Garbo, Betty Davis, and Marilyn Monroe; and their stories just as telling and heart-rending. The important thing, is that unlike the narrator, they will never die. The stars in concrete on Hollywood Boulevard are not gravestones. They are tributes to lives that will remain on film.

I pity the poor rock star, who tramples through the mud laughing. Being in show-biz and recorded for posterity can be the best revenge. I wonder what Ray thinks when he hears these songs now?

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.