The "storyteller" concept was ideal for aging singer/songwriters, letting them run through their back catalog and illuminate the origins of their best-known songs with stories and anecdotes. Ray Davies essentially invented the concept on his promotional tour for his semi-fictional memoir X-Ray, and his concerts were so successful, they eventually provided the basis for the VH1 series Storyteller. It also led to Storyteller, his first solo album since the soundtrack to Return to Waterloo. Like that album, it has a sound very similar to the Kinks -- which shouldn't be surprising, since Davies was the musical force behind the band -- but it's considerably more engaging than Return to Waterloo. Much of the record is devoted to Kinks' classics, all of which are fleshed out by Davies' clever, revealing stories, and many of which are taken from X-Ray. There are also a number of fine new or previously unreleased songs, like "Storyteller," "Art School Babe," "Back in the Front Room," "It's Alright," "The Ballad of Julie Finkle," and "London Song," which is the only song on the collection recorded live in the studio, not in concert. Certainly, the narrative element of Storyteller makes it of interest primarily to hardcore Kinks fans, but by 1998, the only type of Kinks fan that existed was hardcore, and they'll find the album filled with delights, both expected and unexpected.
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