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Ray Davies – See My Friends

Ray Davies, See My Friends

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

NOW here’s something to savour… Kinks’ legend Ray Davies revisits some of the band’s best-known tracks with the help of some contemporary friends.

See My Friends, the ensuing album, is a joyful meeting of minds and styles… an essential reminder of the brilliance and timelessness of The Kinks, as well as a great opportunity for Davies to work with some great modern acts.

Hence, folk-rock heroes Mumford & Sons team up with Davies for a masterful re-working of Days/This Time Tomorrow, Metallica bring typical power to You Really Got Me and Jackson Browne a customary sense of style to the still beautiful Waterloo Sunset.

Ironically, the album came about almost by accident, according to Davies. It was kick-started when he recorded a version of Till The End Of The Day in the summer of 2009 with the late, great Big Star singer Alex Chilton.

But having had the concept re-ignited in his mind, Davies set about putting together this collaborative offering and approaching the various artists he wanted to work with. This, in turn, presented its own set of challenges.

“With some tracks, I had to appreciate the style of the other artists, otherwise it would have sounded unbalanced,” he explains. “And I wanted the album to work as an entire listening experience but each track had a lift of its own.”

The ensuing project saw Davies travelling to Oslo via Denmark, Germany and Belgium to record with Metallica, New York to record with Jon Bon Jovi, New Jersey for Bruce Springsteen, Chicago for Billy Corgan, and his own north London base, the legendary KONK studios, for much of the rest.

The journey and effort was worth it, though, for this is truly a special listen.
Admittedly, there are some moments that take more getting used to than others, by virtue of Davies’ decision to incorporate the style of some of the artists he’s working with. But in the main, this is a great collection of classic songs with a modern spin.

Highlights include album opener Better Things, which provides an excellent showcase of Davies and Springsteens’ vocal styles; Mumford & Sons’ Days/This Time Tomorrow; Waterloo Sunset, which continues to enchant; All Day And All Of The Night/Destroyer, which makes good use of Smashing Punpkins’ stalwart Corgan; Tired of Waiting, featuring a typically moody vocal from Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, and Dead End Street, which is beautifully delivered in boy-girl duet form with Amy Macdonald.

There are misfires, of course… the Paloma Faith collaboration on Lola doesn’t really work, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora make a bit of a mess of Celluloid Heroes (which seems to completely lose any of its Kinks-ness) and Lucinda Williams’ gruff vocal style is a little too raw for Kinks’ purists to really take to.

But of the 14 tracks on offer, there’s plenty to admire and savour, while whetting your appetite for rediscovering The Kinks once more.

Download picks: Days/This Time Tomorrow, You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, Dead End Street, This Is Where I Belong, Tired of Waiting, All Day And All Of The Night/Destroyer

Track listing:

  1. Better Things – Ray Davies & Bruce Springsteen
  2. Celluloid Heroes – Ray Davies & Jon Bon Jovi/Richie Sambora
  3. Days/This Time Tomorrow – Ray Davies & Mumford & Sons
  4. Long Way From Home – Ray Davies & Lucinda Williams/The 88
  5. You Really Got Me – Ray Davies & Metallica
  6. Lola – Ray Davies & Paloma Faith
  7. Waterloo Sunset – Ray Davies & Jackson Browne
  8. Till The End Of The Day – Ray Davies & Alex Chilton/The 88
  9. Dead End Street – Ray Davies & Amy MacDonald
  10. See My Friends – Ray Davies & Spoon
  11. This Is Where I Belong – Ray Davies & Black Francis
  12. David Watts – Ray Davies & The 88
  13. Tired Of Waiting For You – Ray Davies & Gary Lightbody
  14. All Day And All Of The Night/Destroyer – Ray Davies & Billy Corgan

  1. You’ve got to be joking about this being “something to savour”.

    PowellPressburger    Nov 8    #
  2. See My Friends is actually very good. Definitely worth buying. Do also listen to the original Kinks versions though because…they are all better!

    Angie    Nov 13    #