Dave Davies

Unfinished Business: Dave Davies Kronikles 1963-1998

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If this had only been Kronikles, 1963-1972 instead. It's the same problem with all the '60s greats who aren't named Neil Young. Their work rises like comets shot out of cannons in the early, R&B/Merseybeat beginnings, soaring ever higher toward the more expansive psychedelic era. Then they peak, level off around Woodstock, begin to descend in the earliest '70s, and then they plummet with a thud and a plop. To be fair, the Kinks made the tidiest, least offensive mess of it, and thus you could feel affection for them even when they sucked. Like, say, John Lennon or Pete Townshend, Ray Davies and his husky, Mickey Mouse-voiced sibling were capable of the odd later-'70s (or even later) gems that, if nothing like their fabled past, would remind of their prodigious talents in their early-twenties prime. Nevertheless, over a 35-year chronological presentation, the helpless spiral toward crap city is inescapable. All the more so with the junior Davies, who had such a smaller catalog to start. CD one plucks out the one or two songs Dave sang on each Kinks LP -- blues-stomp covers, a few melodies Ray wrote for him, and some of Dave's earliest, best tunes. Most significantly, there's two huge vault-uncovered treats for '60s Kinks heads: a rare 1963 acetate of an unknown Dave number, the early-Beatles-like "I Believed You," the band's earliest unearthed recording from its days as the Ravens; and a 1969 Dave-alone eight-track, "Climb Your Wall," a nice piece of post-Dylan, post-Arthur happy shambles. But the rot begins to seep too early, when track ten announces the forgettable Misfits and the advanced retard of the Kinks' creative genius. Being a best-of, the CD thankfully pulls out two surprising, too-late-period chestnuts amid the morass, 1989's more fragile "Perfect Strangers" and 1992's Dave-alone track "I've Got Your Number." But one still aches for the other '60s Kinks killers Dave belted that aren't here, such as "Wicked Annabella," "Mindless Child of Motherhood," and "Love Me Till the Sun Shines." Wherefore art thou? CD two is decent, as Dave's first two solo LPs, 1980's AFL1-3603 and 1981's Glamour, aren't awful. Of higher note, however, is the collection of 1997 home recordings of old '60s Dave songs, which retain much of the magic of the originals without replicating their 1967 recording values. But ultimately, what you really want is to have Dave's famed, never-released 1967/1968 solo LP finally appear before he is dead. Fans who want a taste should seek the 1987 import on PRT U.K., The Album That Never Was, the closest approximation to date, and still the best Dave collection. In the meantime, Kronikles is an uneven document of an underrated performer. At best it makes some splendid cases for Dave's inarguable value as a star guitarist/innovator and fine part-time writing/singing foil.

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