Hidden Treasures - Dave Davies

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Hidden Treasures - Dave Davies

1 CD(s) - Rock 'N' Roll - Label: Sanctuary - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 01/08/2013 - 602527776538

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Review of "Hidden Treasures - Dave Davies"

published 20/04/2012 | JOHNV
Member since : 13/07/2000
Reviews : 886
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About me :
2000-2015, 886 reviews. Thanks all - it was fun while it lasted, but nothing lasts forever.
Excellent
Pro Very comprehensive collection; several previously unreleased tracks
Cons Unless you're not a Kinks fan, surely none
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money
Lyrics

"The long-hidden talent of the youngest Kink"

An autographed copy of the CD

An autographed copy of the CD

Dave Davies

The Kinks would certainly never have existed without the brilliance of Ray Davies as front man and main songwriter. But let us not underestimate the other constant element in the group and their three decades together, the presence of Ray’s feisty, punky younger brother and lead guitarist Dave.

Sensing that Ray did not have a total creative monopoly in the group and aware that Dave’s teen appeal and good looks (he was easily the youngest member) could broaden their pin-up appeal, the management gradually brought him centre stage as writer of and lead vocalist on several tracks. These were in effect ‘The Kinks featuring Dave Davies’, but naturally a solo or semi-solo career meant (a) two acts for the price of one and therefore more money, and (b) sibling rivalry and any lingering ego problems satisfied. In fact, Dave was an embittered soul with other personal problems. Having got his teenage sweetheart pregnant, the scandalised parental forces forcibly separated the young lovers. Part of his response was to blot out his sorrows and frustrations in working to help make the group a success. (The other part consisted of the usual sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, etc. etc – we can take that as read).

The album

Two solo Top 20 singles looked like a good launching pad for the Dave Davies solo album, so a shortlist for the album was drawn up and tapes were prepared. For various reasons, it never happened. Two reconstructions of how it might have been were issued over the years, but ‘Hidden Treasures’, issued in 2011, has been hailed as the most comprehensive, the most carefully remastered and the best-documented collection yet, unlikely to be bettered.

With 78 minutes playing time, and 27 tracks altogether, there are 17 different songs, some of which appear a second time in mono mixes, one a third time in the form of an early take with guide vocal.

If you only know one track here, it will probably be ‘Death Of A Clown’ (No. 3, summer 1967). Tinkling piano (probably by stalwart session player Nicky Hopkins), folksy acoustic guitar strumalong and singalong, and a nod to Bob Dylan in the vocal, this song written jointly by Ray and Dave is bittersweet stuff, with a smile and a tear at the same time, sung from the point of view of a circus manager whose lions won’t fight, whose tigers won’t roar, whose fortune teller lies dead on the floor, and who is drowning his sorrows in whisky and gin. Dave’s raspy voice, straining for the high notes, was always a contrast to Ray’s deeper tones, and extra sweetness is added by Ray’s wife Rasa on the high backing vocals.

Much as I like that, I think Dave excelled himself on the follow-up single, ‘Susannah’s Still Alive’ (No. 20, December 1967). Built around a compelling piano riff and with Ray’s stabs on harmonica boosting the chorus, it’s a sad yet insanely catchy song about a lonely girl (his teenage love?) who ’sleeps with the covers down hoping that somebody breaks in’. If anything, even stronger than ‘Clown’. (And again, there’s a mention of ’whisky and gin, that’s all right’ - did this man have spirits on the brain or what? The track which appeared on the B-side, ‘Funny Face’, written by Ray, starts off with an earthy bass guitar for the first few seconds, then takes off into a piano-driven stomp, before a short slow passage, after which it speeds up into the chorus.

Two more solo singles followed over the next fifteen months, though neither charted. ‘Lincoln County’ is a sadly-forgotten treat, a cheerful Jack-the-Lad, devil-may-care lyric with wonderful tune, jaunty fiddle and organ. The Kinks had a disappointing year in 1968 and suddenly went out of fashion – otherwise this would surely have been Top 10. ‘Hold My Hand’, an early 1969 release, is slower and more majestic with piano more prominent than guitar, possibly not as distinctive as the ones that went before.

With this, group and record company apparently cooled over the prospects of Dave’s solo album, tentatively named ‘A Hole In The Sock’, thought to be something of a pun on the Beatles’ song title ‘A Day In The Life’, or on Traffic’s ‘Hole In My Shoe’.. He seemed to lose enthusiasm, commenting later that having to write songs himself stirred up various emotions best left undisturbed, 'and I didn’t want to do the bleeding record. I felt I had to do it out of duty rather than out of joy, fun and excitement. They were very exuberant times and there I was, traipsing into the studio to force this stuff out.’

Nevertheless, if the remaining tracks weren’t potential A-sides, they weren’t that far behind. ‘Mindless Child Of Motherhood’ is musically a lively Byrds-like jangle with crisp guitar, concealing a bitter lyric on the parental issues and on family planning, which were uppermost in Dave’s mind part of the time. It’s one of several songs, others being ‘Do You Wish To Be A Man’, and ‘Crying’, on which Dave could sound positively jaunty yet angry. ‘Are You Ready’, at four minutes one of the longest tracks, is slower and almost hymn-like in its use of harmonium and acoustic guitar.

‘Creeping Jean’, with something of a Rolling Stones brashness, is one of the strongest. A distorted guitar figure and a chord sequence that recalls the Showstoppers’ late 1960s soul classic ‘Ain’t Nothin’ But a Houseparty’ (if you aren’t familiar with that, go to Youtube and acquaint yourself at once), it’s sung quite fiercely with a bit of a sneer.

Although Dave sings lead throughout, a few of the songs were written by Ray. One, ‘Mr Reporter’, despite a cheery brass band sound and Northern soul tempo, has lines that many people would agree with: ‘The reason I am stupid is ‘cause I read you every day, You misquote all the true things ‘cause it rubs you up the wrong way.’ The similarly brass-driven ‘Groovy Movies’, another apparently cheerful toe-tapper, also reveals, ‘I don’t want to be a producer/I don’t want to be a big star/I just want to be a big-shot director/And smoke a big Havana cigar/By making groovy movies.’ The same brass section also makes an appearance on the brisk tale of illicit love, ‘Mr Shoemaker’s Daughter’. Less satirical is the straightforward ‘Love me Till The Sun Shines’, which might also draw Bob Dylan comparisons again, especially with the organ (Nicky Hopkins again) which becomes prominent towards the end.

The only non-Davies-penned song is ‘Good Luck Charm’, an American rockabilly song written by Spider John Koerner. With its goodtime boogie piano, it sounds like a piece of lighthearted relief against the sometimes rather anguished subject matter of some of the other songs.

Packaging

A 24-page booklet containing a very detailed history of Dave’s career and of all the tracks, illustrated with photographs and memorabilia. I also like the design of the CD itself, done to look like the label of one of those mid-60s Pye 7” singles, with black print on a bright magenta background, and a small circular portrait of Dave where the Pye logo always appeared [see picture].

Afterwards

Dave finally got to record and release a few solo albums from 1980 onwards, on some of which he played all the instruments as well as wrote the songs. It is good to note that he has largely recovered from a major stroke in 2004.

Conclusion

If you loved the Kinks in the 1960s – or at any time really – you’ll certainly enjoy this set as well. Dave was not quite as good as a songwriter as his elder brother – in fact, very few people in the music business ever were – but at their best, the songs were very good, and it adds another dimension to the band's sound.


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Comments on this review

  • 80smusicreviewer published 26/04/2012
    Excellent review, may have a look into a couple of these tracks.
  • steves001 published 24/04/2012
    Yes, I loved the Kinks - still do - the Davies family having lived just up the road from us in the 60s!
  • AnneLorraine1 published 24/04/2012
    Wonderful review John
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1 CD(s) - Rock 'N' Roll - Label: Sanctuary - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 01/08/2013 - 602527776538

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EAN: 602527776538

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