The Kinks, A Soap Opera

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

A Soap Opera

The Kinks

Released after the momentous two-act, three-disc Preservation suite, 1975's Soap Opera signaled a lighter approach toward the end of the Kinks 'concept album phase that had begun in the late '60s. Nearly universally panned upon release by critics increasingly annoyed by Ray Davies 'insistence on creating music theater on vinyl, the head Kink's tale of a superstar who swaps places with a common office worker doesn't include any famous songs, but contains Davies 'most presentational (others might say affected or campy) vocal performance: it's not for nothing that the album art declares, "The Kinks present a Soap Opera."

Whereas Preservation drew from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, Soap Opera took its inspiration from British music hall ditties. Increasingly frustrated with celebrity's pressures, Ray fantasizes about drab nine-to-five normality, brightened only by drinking and eating the wife's ghastly but well-intentioned shepherd's pie, as celebrated on "You Make It All Worthwhile."

The other Kinks reportedly felt marginalized by Ray's indulgences, and their performances tangibly fight against the material's cuteness. Brother Dave Davies recycles his pioneering power chords for "Everybody's a Star (Starmaker)," which, along with the Slade-like "Ducks on the Wall," points the way to the harder direction of the Kinks 'second concept album of 1975, Schoolboys In Disgrace.