#32 Ray Davies “Americana” – 52 Weeks of 2017 Albums

This record has been brewing deep within Ray Davies ever since The Kinks first touched down in America in the summer of 1965 for their first ever US tour, right before the now infamous four year performance ban imposed on the group by the American Federation of Musicians from 1966 through to 1969. Some 30 odd years later, around the time of the eventual demise of The Kinks in 1994, Davies published his first book, the semi-fictional memoir X-Ray, an experimental non-fiction “unauthorized” autobiography recounting his childhood and the early days of The Kinks. The subsequent promotional book tour culminated in what would eventually evolve into Storyteller, the 1996 VH1 television series, as well as the 1998 Ray Davies live album and concert tour of the same name. Fast forward to one and a half weeks after the fateful events of September 11th, 2001, where Davies found himself scheduled to appear in America once again as part of the US leg of his on-going Storyteller Tour. It was on this visit that the songs of Americana first began to take shape in late night hotel ruminations and on the road demo sessions, as documented in Davies’ 20 minute 2001 film Americana: A Work In Progress, first released as a bonus DVD accompanying Davies’s 2007 album Working Man’s Café.  Five years later saw the release of Davies’ second book, 2013’s Americana: The Kinks, the Road and the Perfect Riff and now, in 2017, the album version. 15 Years in the making, Americana is as close to a new Kinks record as we are ever likely to hear again. Backed by the recently re-formed American roots rock band The Jayhawks, Americana is first and foremost a band record. Whereas previous Davies albums utilized a host of disparate studio musicians this is the first time in a 20 plus year solo career that Davies has turned to a preexisting band for back up. Not unlike an American styled Village Green Preservation Society, this could very well be the final music chapter in a long and storied career for the 72 year old Davies whose vocal prowess is not what it once was even ten years ago. Ultimately, if Americana turns out to be Sir Ray’s swan song it will surely prove to be a more than fitting post script to a long and brilliant career penning some of the most poignant and literary pop music the century has known.

Rating: 9.5/10

2017ray-davies

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