Various Artists

The Ray Davies Songbook

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This is a nice idea for a compilation, assembling a wide range of covers of Ray Davies' songs in various styles -- obvious tracks like the Pretenders' "Stop Your Sobbin'," Robert Palmer's funky "You Really Got Me," Rainbow's Graham Bonnett doing "Set Me Free" (way too loud, with booming drums), etc. It comes from England, and was obviously put together by somebody from the Sceptered Isle; what other explanation can there be for the absence of the Chocolate Watch Band's "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," the latter only one of Davies' better songs as well as one of the better covers of that song. And not to belittle anyone's musical style, but some listeners may have done quite well by-passing "Tired of Waiting" by Little Angels, as well as Graham Bonnett's "Set Me Free"; Andy Taylor's rendition of "Lola" doesn't add much to the Kinks' original except for volume and some flamboyant backing vocals. David Essex does capture the intended mood of "Waterloo Sunset" perhaps better (more dramatically, anyway) than the original in some respects, and ex-Fairground Attraction vocalist Eddi Reader ("Wonder Boy"), Bob Geldof ("Sunny Afternoon"), Marianne Faithfull ("Rosie Won't You Please Come Home"), the Stranglers ("All Day and All of the Night"), and Elvis Costello ("Days") make a very strong case for their interpretations of those songs. There are a few real obscurities here, too, most notably the Cascades' (of "Rhythm of the Rain" fame) folk-rock version of Davies' "I Bet You Won't Stay," recorded for Capitol in 1965. And the Sir Douglas Quintet ("Who'll Be the Next in Line"), the Fall ("Victoria"), and the Romantics ("She's Got Everything") are always welcome. The Kinks are present, too, doing "Scattered." The sound throughout is very good. (British import)

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