Ray Davies doesn’t like to repeat himself, but he just did. He’s released his second album of music about America. Ray loves his adopted country, even though he was nearly murdered in it.
We know Ray as the elder Davies brother, leader of the Kinks, and one of the most intelligent songwriters of our time. It is ironic that Ray loves America even though the Kinks were prevented from playing here for about five years, at the height of their early career.
Dodging the question for twenty years, Ray has recently said the Kinks may indeed work together in the near future. Brother Dave, who has been trying to get them to reunite for many years, will believe it when he sees it.
While the brothers may not be producing new music, they have been busy remastering old albums and finding unreleased tracks and alternate versions of album tracks. The Davies are very much keeping the Kinks legacy alive through their old catalogue.
Ray has produced several albums of new music in the interim, and revisiting his old work. Return to Waterloo was the soundtrack to a television film by Ray Davies released in 1985, while the Kinks were still active. Several tracks from Kinks albums are included with several original songs.
The Storyteller (1998) features spoken word, acoustic versions of Kinks songs and some originals. Ray has always had an autobiographical reflections in his work, as well as incorporating historical elements into his songscapes. Ray also wrote his autobiography, which he incorporates this album.
In 2006, Ray released Other People’s Lives, a collection of new songs, which features him as close to the Kinks as he has been since the band dry-docked. His songs ring with adroit life observations and musical ideas. This was a superb return to original music.
Davies returned two years later with another album of original tunes, Working Man’s Cafe. Generally strong reviews, similar to his last album of original songs. While the lyrics have the Davies wit and perception, the music lacks the sizzle of his work with the Kinks (Dave’s criticism and stellar guitar work).
Ray continued to re-imagine the Kinks catalogue with The Kinks Choral Collection in 2009, a collaboration with Crouch End Festival Chorus. In 2010, he released See My Friends, versions of his songs with other collaborators including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Jackson Browne, Lucinda Williams and Metallica.
In 2017, Ray released Americana and this year, Our Country, companion albums about his life of life in the United States.
In 2004, Ray was shot in the leg in his adopted city of New Orleans. He and a companion were robbed, and as he gave chase, he was shot.
In 2017, Ray become Sir Ray, as he was knighted by Prince Charles. “I’m quite a loner person, so to be accepted to any part of society is good… I don’t know what I have to do for it, just keep on working, do good work,” said Sir Ray.
On the subject of his very difficult relationship with brother Dave who he has seen more often in the past couple of years. “He stayed for a few days. Dave’s a good man, he’s smarter than I am. I miss being in a band. I’m a team player. I miss the spirit, you don’t realize until you don’t have them around you. When you’re a solo artist you’ve got nobody to blame if you play badly.”
Earlier this year, Ray made this startling announcement. “I’ve got all these songs that I wrote for the band when we – not broke up – parted company, and I think it’s kind of an appropriate time to do it.”