Ray Davies is best known for being the lead singer of legendary rock band The Kinks but since the demise of them in 1996, he has worked hard on a solo career as a singer-songwriter. After five solo albums, Ray Davies now returns with a collaborations album, See My Friends. This collection is very interesting because all of the songs were actually produced decades ago by The Kinks themselves and now have been given a modern revamp. As the man himself says 'Originally it was a way to express myself and give my band The Kinks material to record. After a while, the songs took a life of their own as the world discovered them. Now, when I meet other artists, most of them who know my work have a favourite Kinks song. I decided it would be a natural progression to collaborate with some of these artists'. The result is a walk down nostalgia lane but with a brilliantly modern streak that is sure to garner new-generation fans.
The album kicks off in great tradition with the uplifting rock track Better Things. Whilst Bruce Springsteen and Ray's voices really complement one another, it is the exceptionally produced bridge that sets this track apart. Other examples of collaborations that work well is Days/This time tomorrow, where the mixture of the two tracks works amazingly to create probably the best track off the LP. Mumford and Sons' folk sound is evident here and it really alters the direction from the original track. Similarly, You really Got me, the classic track that is probably the most well-known Kinks track, gets a heavy makeover by working with Metallica. Whilst being able to keep the original staple that everyone knows, this is how a remake of a song should be made as it plunges the original track into a whole different direction. These are not just carbon copies; these are reinvented versions, sometimes sounding like completely new songs altogether.
The collection is also victorious in being able to diverge in various bearings. Great slow-tempo tracks such as Waterloo Sunset and See My Friends reveal honest soul and complex emotion, whilst crossing various boundaries across genres make this a very eclectic collection. Long way from Home is a more country-western orientated track (ironically so as Ray Davies met Lucinda in Texas) that is able to sound both epic and understated at the same time. Similarly, with the help of Amy Macdonald, Dead end Street is pushed into jazzy territories with lyrics such as 'what are we living for, two roomed apartment on the second floor?' brining up issues that even resonate today. What is great is the fact that who would have guessed that Bon Jovi, The 88 and Paloma Faith could ever appear on the same record. However, this does not mean that Ray moves away far from his roots. Tracks like Til the End of the Day and David Watts retain that authentic British 80s Rock sound which we all originally fell in love with. Harking back to a song that was made 35 years ago is a ridiculously huge feat and one that shouldn't be dismissed lightly; being even further impressive considering that it sounds like something that would appear on a Libertines album in recent years. Rightfully so, the album finishes with All Day and All of the Night, fortunately aligning itself closely with the original; this is the epitome of The Kinks.
Whether you are an old Kinks fan or have never heard of them in your life, this record is sure to please you regardless. Thrusting songs made over 30 years ago into modernity, Ray Davies collaborates with a diverse range of artists to create an eclectic and fresh take on his own material. Furthermore, simply the accolade behind some of the names on this collection merely shows the longstanding reputation that Davies has been able to establish in his lengthy musical career. This is sure to be up there with one of Davis' musical highlights.
5 / 5
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