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A Soap Opera

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Album Review

Unbridled celebration is tempered by "I should have guessed" dismay. A full show (Philadelphia) from what was certainly the most fascinating era of the Kinks' entire existence, and it was taped from the stalls by a man with a mic. Which doesn't make it a bad thing, or a worthless purchase, or anything else — just don't expect hi-fi miracles. Or much hi-fi of any description. Disc one, a fairly standard mid-'70s Kinks live set, can be skipped through relatively quickly: Regardless of what his band members really thought about King Konk Ray's period conceptomania, it's plain that everyone was aching to get on with the show. So, fairly perfunctory run-throughs of the group's RCA-era highlights are interspersed with a few great moments, and a lot of mere okay ones. But, by the time you've changed the discs around, they've all changed their clothes, and the whole thing comes to life. Soap Opera never worked on album, and the proposed theatrical presentation never got going. But offered up as part two of a two-hour live show, in all its extravagant, overblown glory, it's a revelation. A pompous one, maybe, and certainly pretentious, but the songs were great, the action moves, the dialogue is great, and Davies can ham it up like the best of 'em: "God! These pajamas are awful!" Similarly, the run of hits which comes close to the end, as the Starmaker attempts to escape the trap and convince Andrea that he isn't Norman (listen to the album: you'll understand), may be little more than excerpts, but they're effective all the same. As Davies subsequently proved on his Storyteller tour, even a little bit of an oldie is often enough to keep everyone happy, and regardless of whether Soap Opera was a commercial success or not (it wasn't), you can hear the audience grinning all the way down the years. Fabulous version of "Ducks on the Wall" as well.


Formed: 1963 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Although they weren't as boldly innovative as the Beatles or as popular as the Rolling Stones or the Who, the Kinks were one of the most influential bands of the British Invasion. Like most bands of their era, the Kinks began as an R&B/blues outfit. Within four years, the band had become the most staunchly English of all their contemporaries, drawing heavily from British music hall and traditional pop, as well as incorporating elements of country, folk, and blues. Throughout their long, varied career,...
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A Soap Opera, The Kinks
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