The KINKS – “ Everybody’s In Showbiz ”

Posted: November 26, 2020 in MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

No other songwriter in rock during the 1960s portrayed life in the British Isles as richly and as pointedly as The KinksRay Davies. In songs such as “A Well Respected Man,” “Autumn Almanac,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and “Dead End Street,” and on albums like Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur, Davies captured vividly the class-driven lifestyles and peculiarities of the English, both present-day and in times gone by. By the time the 1970s kicked in, though, Davies had begun reaching into a deeper well for inspiration. The albums Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970), which took aim at the inequities of the music industry, and the following year’s country music-influenced, nostalgic Muswell Hillbillies, found Davies and the Kinks extending their lyrical and musical range.

The Kinks’ tenth studio album, 1972’s double LP “Everybody’s in Showbiz”, is about to get the Legacy Edition treatment from Sony’s Legacy Recordings. The classic studio/live hybrid album will be reissued along with a full disc’s worth of previously unissued studio outtakes (recorded at London’s Morgan Studios) and concert material (recorded March 2nd-3rd, 1972 during The Kinks’ Carnegie Hall concert stand). or Everybody’s in Show-Biz, released on RCA Records in the summer of 1972, the Kinks went the double-live album route—one studio disc consisting of 10 brand new songs, and a live LP recorded at Carnegie Hall in March of that year. The latter consisted primarily of songs drawn from the recent studio albums, while Davies’ new material—the writing of which coincided with the Kinks’ trend toward more theatricality in their live performances—mixed the autobiographical (a few songs focused on the touring life—and the crappy food consumed along the way) and the observational.

While not quite fully a concept album—not in the way that the following Preservation Act 1, Preservation Act 2 and Soap Opera were, anyway—the studio half of Everybody’s in Show-Biz was the most unified statement the band had made since 1969’s Arthur. It was, as all of their output had been over the past several years, exceptional.

It was also a relative bomb. In the United States, where the Kinks’ popularity had ebbed and flowed—largely due to a legal snafu that kept them from touring in the States between 1966-69—the album only reached #70 in Billboard, 35 points lower than Lola had (but better than Muswell Hillbillies, which stalled at #100). Show-Biz also failed to produce a hit single, whereas the title track of Lola had given them their first U.S. top 10 in five years.

In retrospect, what’s most astounding, perhaps, is how American radio—and, consequentially, record buyers—utterly failed to initially recognize what was easily one of Davies’ finest compositions to date: “Celluloid Heroes.”

Incredibly, the song failed to chart. Today, it’s considered something of a Kinks Klassik—one of those songs that defines the band and is often cited as being among Davies’ finest creations. The ballad finds the singer looking wistfully at the heyday of Hollywood, that era when all it took was a dream, a modicum of talent and a bus ticket to Los Angeles for fame to turn from a dream to reality—or not.

In the opening stanza, Davies sings: “Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star/And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are/There are stars in every city, in every house and on every street/And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, their names are written in concrete.”

The latter reference, to the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame, is Davies’ nod to the many who’d come and gone, “Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of/People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame/Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.”

He name-checks several: First there’s Greta Garbo, who “looks so weak and fragile, that’s why she tried to be so hard.” There’s Rudolph Valentino (who “looks up ladies dresses as they sadly pass him by”), Bela Lugosi, Bette Davis, George Sanders and Mickey Rooney. And, of course, “dearest Marilyn,” the most glaring example of the star system’s lures and failures: “She should have been made of iron or steel/But she was only made of flesh and blood.”

Recorded with the piano of recent recruit John Gosling taking a prominent role, “Celluloid Heroes” was tender and melancholy, both tribute and admonition. It’s not the stars themselves that our narrator identifies with; it’s who they play. He doesn’t want so much to be a Hollywood star himself; he wants his own life to disappear into those of the characters on the screen. “Celluloid heroes never feel any pain, and celluloid heroes never really die,” Ray Davies sings. It’s a gem of a song that was almost lost amidst the indifference to an underrated album. Fortunately, its own star rose and hasn’t faded since.

Often seen as a transitional album pointing the way towards producer-songwriter-frontman Ray Davies’ more theatrical style, Everybody’s in Showbiz took its inspiration from Davies’ life on the road.   The album’s songs were originally intended as the soundtrack to The Colossal Shirt, an unrealized film about The Kinks’ touring life.  The LP showcases the band lineup of Ray Davies, guitarist Dave Davies, bassist John Dalton, keyboardist John Gosling and drummer Mick Avory, joined by brass and woodwind players Mike Cotton, John Beecham and Alan Holmes (all of whom played on Muswell Hillbillies, recently reissued by Legacy.)

The Carnegie Hall tracks on the original LP include Kinks originals such as “Lola” and “Brainwashed” as well as an eclectic variety of cover versions including “Mr. Wonderful” (from the 1956 Sammy Davis Jr.-starring Broadway musical of the same name), the 1926 chart-topper “Baby Face” and “The Banana Boat Song” (best known in its rendition by Harry Belafonte).

The 17-track bonus disc of the new Legacy Edition premieres never-before-heard live versions of “Sunny Afternoon,” “Get Back in Line,” “Muswell Hillbilly,” “Complicated Life” and the rarely-played “Long Tall Shorty” as well as the outtake “History,” alternate mixes of “Supersonic Rocket Ship” and “Unreal Reality” and “Sophisticated Lady,” an embryonic rehearsal version of “Money Talks.”

The remastered Legacy Edition includes new liner notes by journalist David Fricke.  It’s due in stores on CD and vinyl from Legacy Recordings on June 3rd; the vinyl 3-LP edition contains the original album and a selection of nine bonus tracks (noted below).  Both versions can be pre-ordered at the links below!

The Kinks, Everybody’s in Showbiz: Legacy Edition (RCA VPS-6065, 1972 – reissued Legacy Recordings, 2016)

CD 1: The Original Album

  1. Here Comes Yet Another Day
  2. Maximum Consumption
  3. Unreal Reality
  4. Hot Potatoes
  5. Sitting In My Hotel
  6. Motorway
  7. You Don’t Know My Name
  8. Supersonic Rocket Ship
  9. Look A Little On The Sunny Side
  10. Celluloid Heroes
  11. Top Of The Pops (Live)
  12. Brainwashed (Live)
  13. Wonderful (Live)
  14. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues (Live)
  15. Holiday (Live)
  16. Muswell Hillbilly (Live)
  17. Alcohol (Live)
  18. Banana Boat Song (Live)
  19. Skin And Bone (Live)
  20. Baby Face (Live)
  21. Lola (Live)

Tracks 1-10 Recorded March-October 1972 at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London
Tracks 11-21 Recorded March 3, 1972 at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York

CD 2: Bonus Tracks

  1. ‘Til The End Of The Day (Live) (previously issued) (*)
  2. You’re Looking Fine (Live) (previously unreleased commercially) (*)
  3. Get Back In Line (Live) (*)
  4. Have A Cuppa Tea (Live) (*)
  5. Sunny Afternoon (Live) (*)
  6. Muswell Hillbilly (Live)
  7. Brainwashed (Live)
  8. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues (Live)
  9. Holiday (Live)
  10. Alcohol (Live)
  11. Complicated Life (Live) (*)
  12. She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina (Live) (previously issued)
  13. Long Tall Shorty (Live) (*)
  14. History (studio outtake) (*)
  15. Supersonic Rocket Ship (alternate mix) (*)
  16. Unreal Reality (alternate mix)
  17. Sophisticated Lady (early rehearsal version of “Money Talks”)

All tracks previously unreleased except where noted
(*) denotes bonus track included on vinyl edition

Tracks 1-13 Recorded March 2-3, 1972 at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York
Tracks 14-17 Recorded at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London

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