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Davies revisits Kinks classics

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Forty-five years after Ray Davies’ chart-topping song “You Really Got Me” put The Kinks on the map, the band’s founder, lead singer and composer is back.

Promoting “The Kinks Choral Collection” — a delightful CD that pairs Davies and six other rock musicians with The Crouch End Festival Chorus in reworkings of Kinks classics — Davies launches his seven-city tour with a stop at San Francisco’s Warfield tonight.

Taking the place of the 65-member Crouch End Festival Chorus — a community chorus based in the north London neighborhood where Davies grew up — is the California-based Vox Society Choir.

Davies has hardly spent the past decade resting on his laurels. A few years back, he released “Working Man’s Café,” a solo recording whose title track is revisited on “Choral Collection.”

He’s currently working on a stage musical as a follow up to last year’s “Come Dancing” album collaboration with other artists and he’s considering revising his 1998 choral composition, “Flatlands.”

“I’m a writer and I want to write more,” Davies says. “Being creative fires me up!”

It has certainly fired up the chorus. While retaining their quintessentially English gentility, their blend on such classics as “Days,” “Waterloo Sunset,” “You Really Got Me” and “All Day And All of the Night” is delicious.

There’s also a suite of songs from “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society,” a recorded homage to an idyllic England that some consider to be Davies’ masterpiece.

One of the most fascinating aspects of his music is Davies’ ability to comfortably swing between the nostalgic, hometown feel of “Village Green” and the big-city rock of “You Really Got Me.” Add the choir, whose sound has been carefully crafted to complement both genres, and you’ve got a deja vu classic with a freshness too seldom encountered in today’s pop

In a recent interview in Gramophone, Davies says, “I believe in singing the way you speak. I was determined to get the vowel sounds right. Choirs have a tendency to sound American when they sing pop music, or fall back into scooby-dooing.”
Davies has avoided both, creating a sound that’s hard to resist.

“Ah, ah, ah” sings the choir ethereally before the first crashing electric guitar chords let the “girl” know that Davies wants to be with her “all day and all of the night.” That may sound like a recipe for camp, but it isn’t. Instead, the cleverly integrated choral commentary underscores the irrepressible innocence of teenagers in heat.

You’ll love it.


Ray Davies

  • Where: The Warfield, 982 Market St., San Francisco
  • When: 8 p.m. today
  • Tickets: $42.50 to $59.50
  • Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.warfieldtheatre.com

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