Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kinks - Destroyer

(Arista, 1981)

There’s so much to dislike on
“Destroyer” – the recycling of the “All Day and All of the Night” riff, the gratuitous reappearance of the Lola character, the simplistic red/bed/head rhymes, the bar-band keyboard – that I’m a little bit ashamed by how much I enjoy this gloriously stupid song. It: Calculated…crappy…catchy. Me: CONFLICTED. Which is actually how I feel about most of Give the People What They Want, a guilty-pleasure fave of an album where the Kinks, trying to ape their more successful musical offspring (circa ’81), indulge in big, dumbed-down guitar moves that are bizarrely SHOUTED over by a middle-aged, fashion-conscious, skinny-tie wearing Ray Davies. The weird and fun thing with this material, though, is that thanks (I figure) to the presence of horrible-solo-album-makin’ Dave, the Kinks go beyond new-wave pussyisms and creep into boneheaded Kiss-style territory on songs like B-side “Back to Front,” which is driven by some fantastic chunka-chunka guitar and caveman drums. Lookee: the Kinks prove themselves supremely capable of doing STOOPID quite well here, and given that that’s the direction they’d clearly been moving in since Low Budget, it’s odd to realize that the one thing holding them back from achieving true braindead TRANSCENDENCE (again: Kiss) is the stubborn refusal of Ray’s few remaining shreds of cleverness and craftsmanship to give up the ghost – social commentary and conceptual hoo-haw still abound. It all leads to an odd mixture of beefy fist-pump and psuedo-poetic over-exertion, but thankfully the final product skews dumb, and we’re all the better for that. Find this one in your local dollar bin and hear that I’m right. YOU BETTER ADMIT IT.

1 comment:

Donald Brown said...

I fear the plugs for Kiss are indicating the direction we're headed. Davis is, what, about 37 at this point. He can only be so stupid. What I liked were the attempts to still be himself ("Predictable"; and one of the best tracks of his later career: "Art Lover"), but what I scorned were the "let's swim in the stream of dumbass rock" that had won the day, and no quarter given. To be mainstream at the time was to be at best forgettable, and anyone as round as long as the '60s savants had no choice but to be mainstream. Sad times.