A double album from a criminally underrated period in The Kinks’ carreer is number 28, One for the Road.
The Kinks‘ U.S. career never flourished like that of their British Invasion peers, but that’s another and very interesting story. The Kinks is the quintessentially British band – especially in the nostalgic bittersweet songs of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Ray Davies.
The Kinks enjoyed arise in popularity in the U.S. in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The gold-selling 1980 double-live album One for the Road is a fascinating document of english gentlemen who paved the way for heavy metal and punk, but always made great pop songs.
This album is my choice for the 28 place on my countdown of the 30 best live albums.
It may be considered an odd choice. partly because many felt that Kinks was over the top at the time and also because they was seen as strangely unmodern, especially in Europe. But that dosn’t matter, I discovered Kinks at this time (two years later actually), we were fed great concerts from Germany’s Rockpalast TV-show and The Kinks was one of the bands that came through our TV sets. I was mainly into punk and new wave but two bands felt very right, even if they were very old (in our eyes at the time), namely The Who and The Kinks. They were just as New Wave as anything we heard at the time. My love for both those bands is an everlasting one, and I have dug into their past eagerly.
One for the road also proves that Dave Davies is an extremely underrated lead guitarist. The guitar sound is very “punk like”. I belive Sex Pistols learnt a great deal from Kinks, both the guitar style (listen to Where have all the good times gone and Pressure) and the way Ray Davies delivered his lyrics. Brothers Dave Davis and Ray Davies, bass guitarist Jim Rodford, drummer Mick Avory, and guest keyboardists Ian Gibbons and Nick Newell recorded One for the Road at several concerts in 1979 and 1980.
Lola is the best-known track from this album, and this live performance was a minor hit single; Ray Davies’ teasing intro shows his playful side. Listen to the Spotify album at the bottom of the post and you will know what I’m talking about.
The Hard Way, Low Budget, a raw, stripped-down Superman, Celluloid Heroes, and You Really Got Me are the other fantastic songs on this album. They may be faster or slower or very different, but they are just as good as their studio album counter parts. I also love the riff on Catch me now I’m Falling, where did they get that one? He, he.
I like the playful humour, the joy, and the incredible performances on this album!
There are lots of bootlegs from the tour (Till the end of the year is my favourite), many in great broadcast quality but the Konk/Velvel enhanced two-CD reissue is fantastic. It includes all the songs from the original double album; 20th Century Man was cut from Arista’s U.S. CD but is restored here. The extremely detailed, photo-packed liner notes feature a very good article and complete recording information. It’s great to an album get this kind of treatment.
Among the extras on the second CD are 20 minutes of footage from the September 23, 1979, show in Providence, RI. I wish all reissues would have this level of quality.
One for the road (53 minute show):
PS: Another great thing about the album is that the old songs and the new songs blend perfectly, the new ones are equally good!
(Sources: Wikipedia, Uncut, Allmusic, Liner Notes – One for the road)