The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Monday, February 03, 2003
ROCK HISTORY, APPENDIX 23: Some notes from the outer fringes of the Kinks' career as a live band:

Bruce's Havana Lounge, Reno, Nevada, April 17, 1974: Taking a breather from their grueling touring-opera schedule, the Kinks play an unannounced set in a dingy roadside casino. The concert includes such rarely-performed gems as "The Contenders" and "Uncle Son," as well as an impromptu cover of "Ode to Billie Joe." Dave Davies throws in a few verses from "a trucker song I've been working on," which he releases later under the pseudonym C.W. McCall.

The Sharptone, Belfast, Northern Ireland, November 16, 1980: On the third date of the Mike Cotton Sound's ill-fated reunion tour, surprise guest Ray Davies ascends the stage to sing a medley of "Maximum Consumption," "Oklahoma USA," and the Band's "Ophelia." He returns during the encore, announces that he's going to play something by "one of my heroes, a brilliant man, Sir Cliff Richards," then surprises everyone with a Meters-style brass-funk performance of "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" instead.

Nick's Bar and Grill, Culver City, California, March 2, 1971: After discovering that he and his bass-playing companion have both left their wallets at home, Dave Davies persuades proprietor Nick Martinico to let them "sing for their supper." With nothing but a battered ukelele and a washtub, the duo announces itself as "the John Dalton Experience" and launches into a set that includes "Mr. Reporter," "This Strange Effect," and an a cappella "Spotty Grotty Anna."

Chuck E. Cheese, West Bloomfield, Michigan, October 15, 1997: Dissatisfied with his solo show but unsure how to change it, Ray Davies tries some new material on an unprepared audience. The song "Storyteller" goes over well, and is eventually added to Ray's album-in-progress. A detailed story-behind-the-song explication of "Prince of the Punks" is less successful, with Davies' profanity-laden anecdote of a fistfight with Tom Robinson actually prompting several younger patrons to flee their birthday parties in terror.

Tony's Piano Bar, Manhattan, New York, July 17, 1977: At 11:47 p.m., a wasted Ray Davies commandeers the keyboard and plays a two-minute melange of "Brother," "Holiday Romance," "Did You See His Name?," "The Hard Way," "Send My Picture to Mother," "Der Fuehrer's Face," and "Just Checked in to See What Condition My Condition Was In" before security succeeds in ejecting him.

The Fit'n'Fiddle, Toronto, Ontario, December 7, 1988: Ray and Dave Davies, armed with nothing but two acoustic guitars and a rhythm section on loan from the jazz club down the street, play their band's entire catalog, in chronological sequence, until they get to
Soap Opera.

"I hate that album," says Dave.

"Tough titty," says Ray. "I'm playing it, and if you don't like it you can walk."

"I think I'll do just that," says Dave, and leaves.

The five listeners in attendence stare in befuddlement. Through the entire show, they've been convinced they were watching the Four Freshmen.

posted by Jesse 10:48 PM
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