Top Xmas present – The Kinks Choral Collection, as performed by Ray Davies And The Crouch End Festival Chorus. I’d listened to it on Spotify, and thought it was so marvellous that I put it on my Xmas list. There, you see – free services like Spotify do lead to CD sales, turns out the music industry has nothing to worry about after all.
The idea of a creaky old rockstar performing updated versions of their old hits would normally not appeal; too many bad memories of cheapo compilations ‘re-recorded by the original artist’. And with the original versions of every Kink song being definitive and sublime, what would be the point in re-interpreting them?
But rules have exceptions, and this is one, because it’s absolutely transcendent. Ray is still in great voice, and plaintively and persuasively carries each tune (when so many singers get bored of singing the same old melody and start to free-wheel ‘around’ it). The choral backing gives each track a more epic, yet more pure and etheral quality, so you’re getting the Kinks songs you know and love with added umph.
The chorus covers most of the harmonies, and the arrangements tend to stick pretty closely to the originals (save for a Parisian take on Do You Remember Walter?). It’s most effective on the ballads, Days, Waterloo Sunset, Celluloid Heroes and Village Green; the tracks aren’t quite a greatest hits, as we get almost half of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society and a couple of new ones (which again, is normally bad news on a compilation, but these acquit themselves admirably).
Village Green Preservation Society reminds me I was going to do a blog of my top ten songs that sound like they were recorded by The Wombles. Like Mr Blue Sky and See My Baby Jive. One for another day.