I know the Kinks are a great band. I’ve known it for a long time. And yet for some reason I keep forgetting it, so every time I’m reminded it comes as this great revelation.
My most recent Kinks phase began when I was watching an old episode of The Sopranos that used the song “Living on a Thin Line” (a rare Dave Davies vocal, that one). Then, thinking of Halloween-related songs, I remembered the song “Sleepwalker,” which I had only on a cassette I got from Bob (thanks, Bob). This led me to seek out a compilation of the Kinks’ later-period hits called Come Dancing.
Tragedy struck when the CD arrived and “Sleepwalker” was mysteriously missing from the running order. Turns out there are two versions of the album extant, and the one I had ordered was not the one I received. But in the end I couldn’t return it, because the songs that are on it are so freakin’ excellent. “Juke Box Music.” “Rock’n'Roll Fantasy.” “Low Budget.” The Kinks were so right-on they could even make disco work—check out the whomping backbeat on “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman.” I won’t forget about the Kinks again anytime soon, and neither should you.
“Sex and Candy”
You look up “one-hit wonder” in the dictionary and you see a picture of Marcy Playground, and you wouldn’t even know it was them if it wasn’t captioned “Marcy Playground.” But their one hit, a woozy slice of Malkmusian pop called “Sex and Candy,” is one hell of a tune. It popped into my head the other day, and thanks to the Internet and 99 cents, it was mine in no time. Well worth the money.
I know I heard this album when Laurie Anderson released it back in 94, but I guess I didn’t really listen to it. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Anyway, the point is, I didn’t come to appreciate its beauty until very recently. Crisply and economically produced by Brian Eno, Bright Red/Tightrope is less aggressively weird than other Laurie Anderson albums—although still weird enough (see: “The Puppet Motel”). For the most part it is filled with real songs, languid and melodic and addictive as Mugwump semen. Anderson’s paramour Lou Reed guests on a wonderful song called “In Our Sleep,” and this is where we run up against the limits inherent in writing about music. (“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”) I can’t possibly hope to express its true glory here; you’d just have to hear it for yourself. Come by the house some time and I’ll play it for you.