Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ray Davies The Kinks Choral Collection 2009

Here's an idea: Take a still active and useful singer-songwriter from one of the great British Invasion bands, have him go into the studio to rerecord a bunch of classics from his own pen with a 65 member chorus and a band of studio musicians, in order to "bring something new to them". It sounds like an awful idea idea on paper, and as it turns out, it's an even worse idea in execution.

I'm not saying that I can't like choral music, but combining it with great old Kinks songs makes way less sense than, say, punk-bluegrass. Something here reminds me of those terrible records of the mid-sixties with the London Symphony recording Beatles songs. This may actually be worse.

The Crouch End Festival Chorus are in good voice, as is Davies mostly, and the recording is good. The band sounds a little homogenized compared to the originals. The choral arrangements are either as good as one might expect, or they're the problem.

Here's the thing. This is a collection of great songs, really great songs, and their original versions are stellar. None of them are in any way improved here. None of them even come out especially "interesting". Most of these gems are made far worse by the addition of a chorus. Village Green is completely destroyed. What on earth do Kinks rockers like All Day And All Of The Night or You Really Got Me need with a sixty-five voice chorus. Even songs that you think might work, like Celluloid Heroes or Waterloo Sunset, they suck, too.

Sometimes a folly is just a folly. This one bites it big time.

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