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Working Man's Cafe

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Ray Davies

Working Man's Cafe

12" LP

Availability: In stock


Quick Overview

2008 must be an interesting year to have an outsider's view on the US and its role in the world, and when Ray Davies sings "everywhere I go it looks and feels like America," it's hard to miss a bit of the bitterness in the observation. His second studio solo album in three years, Working Man's Cafe feels like exactly the album a 60-something rocker would craft--assured and direct yet searching and restless, a glimpse into the head of a man who's comfortable in his skin but still wonders how he fits into a world that seems to be turning faster and stranger as the years pass by. Davies has cultivated this contraposition of bitter and sweet, of intertwining comfort and conflict throughout his years leading the Kinks, and now continues into what looks to be a fruitful solo career. There's a bit of George Harrison in the melody and sentiment of "One More Time," acknowledging the widening gap between powerful corporations and the overtaxed little guy, while still envisioning the possibility of a brighter future. And the title track's half-acidic, half-nostalgic take on modern homogenization follows the classic Davies approach of reporting what he sees around him with one eye toward a fading past: "I bought a pair of new designer pants where the fruit and veg man used to stand." It's nice to note that, 40 years on, the songwriter that skewered '60s Brits with "A Well-Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" still wields a sharpened pen and pulls no punches.


Ray Davies took his time crafting his first full-fledged solo album Other People's Lives, delivering it in 2006 -- a full 13 years after his last collection of original material, the Kinks' final album Phobia. Such a long gestation period seemed justified, as the album was an exquisitely written set of short stories that benefited from such exacting attention to detail, yet the length of time between Phobia and Other People's Lives also suggested that Davies would not be returning with his second solo album anytime soon. As it turns out, that wasn't the case: Davies hammered out his second album, Working Man's Café, with a speed recalling the '60s and '70s, when new Kinks albums arrived every year. Appropriately for its quick turn-around, Working Man's Café is a looser, edgier record than its predecessor -- there's polish, but the guitars and rhythms jump, there's a vitality to the performances and the songs themselves bristle with contemporary headlines, bearing references to the vanishing middle class, internet isolation, and New Orleans, the site of both Hurricane Katrina and where Davies was shot and hospitalized after defending a female friend from a mugger. Ever the contrarian, Davies doesn't dwell on his own troubles, they're weaved into part of a tapestry of vignettes of a world gone awry -- a common theme in his work perhaps (this is someone who pined for the village green in the midst of the psychedelic revolution), but such ornery nostalgia has fueled much of Davies best work, as it does here. Far from being an angry, impassioned screed against a world gone wrong (turn to Neil Young's Living with War for that), Davies writes with his signature wry, cynical eye, balancing his weary resignation with a sly wit. The songs have more bite than those on Other People's Lives, as do the performances, which makes Working Man's Café more immediate than its predecessor, yet it benefits from repeated plays as well, as those subsequent spins reveal that these 12 songs are as finally honed as those on Other People's Lives. And having these two albums arrive so quickly is proof that Ray Davies is back as a working songwriter, which is something to be celebrated.

Additional Information

Artist Ray Davies
Track Listing 1. Vietnam Cowboys (4:12) 2. You re Asking Me (3:22) 3. Working Man s Café (3:41) 4. Morphine Song (4:18) 5. In A Moment (4:29) 6. Peace In Our Time (4:39) 7. No One Listen (3:13) 8. Imaginary Man (4:09) 9. One More Time (4:28) 10. The Voodoo Walk (4:24) 11. Hymn For A New Age (3:42) 12. The Real World (5:06) 13. Angola (Wrong Side Of The Law) (4:29) 14. I, The Victim (4:33) (rough mix from the upcoming project called Ripper ) 15. Vietnam Cowboys (demo) (2:52) 16. The Voodoo Walk (demo) (4:25)

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