Review: Ray Davies, ‘See My Friends’

Review: Ray Davies, ‘See My Friends’: Aidin Vaziri | Ray Davies, the former leader of the Kinks, deserves all the praise he can get. His crackling, widescreen songs of British life paved his way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, yet in the grand scheme of things, where contemporaries such as the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney regularly fill stadiums, he remains an underdog. So it makes sense that some of Davies’ more high-profile friends and admirers would get together to throw a little recognition his way. As a tribute, though, “See My Friends” is an oddity. For one thing, it’s billed as a Davies album with his face on the cover and name on the marquee. But once the music kicks up, the songwriter is pushed off to the side, like a meek host at a party with a procession of increasingly unruly guests. Metallica and Bruce Springsteen can’t help but stomp through their contributions (“You Really Got Me” and “Better Things,” respectively) as Davies merely attempts to be heard above the ruckus. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora’s heavy gloss makes heavy bombast out of “Celluloid Heroes.” It’s the lesser-known collaborators who approach the project with just the right mix of reverence and imagination, particularly Mumford and Sons with their folkie medley of “Days/This Time Tomorrow,” which neatly falls in line with Davies’ recent solo work; and Scottish singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald, who provides the man of the hour with a crunchy duet on “Dead End Street.”

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