Thursday, May 1, 2008

GMVW # 17: "Neither Rain nor Snow nor Sleet....."

Gem Music Video of the Week # 17: Neither Rain nor Snow nor Sleet
Song: Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks
Covered Here By: Ray Davies
(Songwriter: Ray Davies)
May 1, 2008

I've traveled many a mile to see concerts over the years, but there is only one show for which I may have risked life and limb, driving thru a blizzard from Boston to the Big Apple back in the winter of 1997.  Looking back, there appear to be 3 reasons for this behavior: 1) the musician (Ray Davies; as discussed below); 2) the location (The Westbeth Theater Center in Greenwich Village; historic hotbed of folk & rock music); and 3) the company (Mac; a true friend, and the real rock music aficionado in this crowd <along with Jeff Strause>... thou shalt not pass on an opportunity to see a good show with Mac).  Take any out of the equation, and I would likely have stayed home, but that was not to be the case.  By the time we got South of Hartford CT, it was a white out.  The only vehicles on the road were ours and snow plows the size of Godzilla.  It was about here where Mac went pale.  The drive down Merritt Parkway (a long version of Storrow Drive) was more like skiing.  However we made it into Manhattan by dusk and found the Village under 2 feet of fresh snow.  We even had enough time to wine and dine before heading to the theatre to see Davies, which was very memorable (likely bolstered by the challenge it took to get there).

Fred gets all the credit for bringing knowledge of the Kinks (of whom the aforementioned Ray Davies is the lead singer/songwriter) into our home back in high school.  This was quite a stroke of good fortune for me considering how easily this band can get overlooked among their many contemporaries.  I believe the Kinks to be the most under-rated band of their time.  There are a number of reasons for this.  For one, the Kinks signed their share of bad record contracts in the early years which resulted in a glut of overlapping albums and songs, making it hard for fans to track the bands musical progression thru their first decade.  Second, in a world of eccentric Rock musicians Ray Davies just may take the cake.  He has the talent to hobnob with other musical geniuses of his era, but for whatever reason, has never made those connections (the Kinks are the one 60's super group to have not played any of the big music events of the last 40 years, including Monterey, Woodstock, Altamont, Watkins Glenn, No Nukes, Live Aid Farm Aid, etc).  Finally, the Kinks may be a victim of their own great music.  Many bands, you can identify right off when you hear a new song.  The Kinks sound is so diverse it’s hard to zero in on them unless you are trying.

You can’t blame Franklin Massachusetts for this lack of recognition. The Brady & Nicholson families alone have certainly done their fair share of marketing.  The beginning of the Kinks 1980 concert video ‘One For the Road’ shows a number of Franklin-ites walking into the show (Providence RI).  When Dave Davies (lead guitarist, Ray’s brother) played at a small club in Maynard MA (several times over 3 years) it seemed half the crowd was from Franklin (Jenny Nicholson even started a ‘Franklin’ chant half way thru the show).

Ray Davies and the Kinks bring a feel of nostalgia and historical context into their music.  By listening, you can get a good sense of the world around them, particularly the Davies brothers (Ray & Dave), who were the 2 youngest in a family full of older sisters living in a poor section of London (Muswell Hill).  Like Leonard Cohen (Gem # 13), their early music is also very poetic (Pete Townshend has often stated that Ray Davies should have been Britain’s Poet Laureate in the 60's).  A perfect example is this weeks Gem video 'Waterloo Sunset', one of many great early Kinks songs.  The linked version is from a recent event at the Roundhouse in London.  Below that is a second song from that same event, 'Shangri La' (no one is better at cynical singing than Ray Davies, and this is one of his best).  Finally, I have attached an early video of the Kinks singing 'Waterloo Sunset'.

“Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, flowing into the night…”

-- Pete

Gem Music Video: Waterloo Sunset (this link has been temporarily lost *Dec, 2009*. It’s a fantastic link without substitute (professionally done, huge choir backup).  To get an early Kinks version, see the link 2 links below)


About the Video: Ray Davies Live at the Roundhouse, 2007 (Gem and 2nd video).  The 3rd video is staged early Kinks.


Best Feedback: Fred

Bravo.....that was awesome.

There is also a link to dedicated follower of fashion on the right side which I just listened to.  Ray is very underrated.

"slip on your slippers and sit by the fire; you've reached your peak and you just cant get any higher...."

Good shite


And: Madeline

Thanks Pete.  I enjoyed that!


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