Ray Davies – Americana by
"Ray Davies and The Jayhawks & Bill Shanley
What could go wrong?
The answer is nothing, absolutely nothing at all.
In some alternate universe this, in parts, is what a fanciful collaboration between Gram Parsons and Ray Davies would sound like.
Maybe after Gram had partied with Mick and Keef in France for a week or two he would have ended up in Muswell Hill with Ray.
Ensconced in a tiny flat they would have drank and conjured up stories about Britannia riding the range astride a mighty buffalo while Geronimo confused and angry tried to navigate a sixties London.
And yet while that phantasmagorical aspect does seem to exist on Americana, The Jayhawks can’t exert any more influence than a bit of flavouring, as ultimately the album is always being dragged back under the wing of Ray Davies who expertly lays out the groundwork to support the argument that he is indeed a national treasure.
Basically it is still more UK than US, and that is comforting to hear as this is Ray Davies after all.
Content wise what we have on Americana is Ray deftly looking back over his relationship with the USA with an unblinking eye, and while it wasn’t all roses you do get the distinct impression that the lure of the fantasy of the USA still holds some sway.
The reality wasn’t to his taste, but the fantasy is a different matter all together.
Undoubtedly he would have loved to have broken the US with the Kinks, and missing out on the British Invasion still rankles, but if they had been up there with the Beatles and Stones at the time then we wouldn’t have got this album, and that would have been a great shame.
Who knows, we may have got something as equally fantastic, but it would have been different.
It’s all swings and roundabouts really, and in life it always is.
And Ray knows this.
Life stretches out before us in all direction and every step forward is the first on a journey that we have no way of knowing, and here we have an example of this.
It’s an album that gazes back into the past and considers the journey including where some paths untaken would have led.
This is pretty much an essential addition to the work of Davies.
We should celebrate that we do have artists of this calibre in this country, and that they are as vital and relevant as they have always been.
Probably the best way to do that is to go out and buy it"