Artist: The Kinks
Album: Everybody's In Show-Biz
Label: Sony Legacy
Release Date: 06/03/2016
When it was originally released in August 1972, the Kinks’ tenth studio album, Everybody’s In Show-Biz, appeared to be a bit of a letdown. After several consistent, solid concept albums — Muswell Hillbillies, Arthur and their ultimate triumph, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society — it felt like a mishmash, a scant ten songs of varying quality cobbled together with a collection of live tracks that seemed more like filler than contributions to any kind of grand statement. The lack of cohesion was further exacerbated by a garish cover shot showing Ray Davies in full poser mode, holding a glistening microphone and surrounded by cartoon characters and caricatures that oogled him from the sidelines. However, in retrospect, the album has aged well and its deeper meaning has become clear. The showbiz schtick aside, this was Davies pondering the prospects of stardom from the perspective of life on the road, lamenting the increasing toll wrought by endless touring with all its depressing consequences.
Originally intended as a road documentary that was shot but never completed, the songs contributed to that concept, making for a statement that now seems far more coherent than it did nearly 45 years ago. Its standout song, “Celluloid Heroes,” still retains its merit as one of the best ballads Davies ever wrote, complete with all lump in the throat sentiment, sobriety and sadness, a heartfelt requiem for those who achieved success by selling their souls. And while none of the tracks that surrounded it could match its standards, several still wear well – among them “You Don’t Know My Name,” “Sitting in my Hotel” and “Here Comes Another Day.”
Not surprisingly then, Legacy’s new expanded edition, complete with well over a dozen bonus tracks including a handful of studio outtakes and several additional live extracts from the Carnegie Hall concert that contributed the original live offerings, Show-Biz is now a much stronger album, fleshed out with far more substance than the original effort could muster. The live extras are the real treasures, showing the Kinks as reckless and exhilarated as any of their live recordings evidenced before or since. And with several of the live offerings sampling albums that immediately preceded Show-Biz — rarely performed gems like “Get Back In Line,” “Brainwashed,” “Alcohol” and the quirky “She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina” in particular — the new additions offer a snapshot of the Kinks in determined comeback mode, having returned to the States after a long layoff brought about by a labor union dispute. Not surprisingly then, those offerings alone are worth the cost of admission.
If the Kinks were on a downward slide artistically — the succeeding Preservation albums being examples of Davies’ ambition gone astray — they would rebound later on with a new label and a series of sterling albums released at the end of the decade. For now however, Everybody’s In Show-Biz is an interesting moment frozen in time, and the sound of a band that was still quite willing to risk it all.
– Lee Zimmerman