Kinks Alive! - Dave Davies - NY Times

Like His Brother, but Much Grittier

A squawk of feedback was the first sound Dave Davies made in his early set on Saturday night at the Bottom Line. It was deliberate; Mr. Davies was letting listeners know that he was still the noise-loving guitarist who made the Kinks' early-1960's hits the precursors of hard rock to come, with blasts of power chords and careening lead lines.

Mr. Davies's brother Ray is the Kinks' main songwriter and lead singer, while Dave Davies has placed a handful of his own songs on Kinks albums and sporadically released his own albums. Ray Davies published an autobiography, "X-Ray," in 1995 and toured by himself; Dave Davies has his own autobiography, "Kink" (1997), and is now touring with his own band. His shows at the Bottom Line, on Wednesday and Saturday, were his first appearances as a leader in New York City.

While Ray Davies's solo tour has as much talk as music, Dave Davies just plugged in and played: recent songs, 1960's songs, even a few of his brother's songs that he admires. Dave Davies has a lot in common with his brother. His early songs were about desperate lust and frustration, with their hormonal furies echoed in power chords and wrenching solos. But Mr. Davies also cherishes the bounce of English music-hall songs, and like his brother he has a nostalgic streak. Compared with his brother's songs, however, Dave Davies's tend to go to extremes: angrier, sadder, grittier.

As he has aged, Dave Davies's songwriting has moved from youthful aggression to middle-aged wistfulness. He sang Ray Davies's "Young and Innocent Days" and "Pictureis drunken father -- but still confesses, "I wish that it could be like it was in the old days."

The club was full of Kinks cultists, and they roared with pleasure to hear decades-old songs like "Susannah's Still Alive," "Funny Face" and "Death of a Clown." Mr. Davies was an inexperienced front man, but an enthusiastic and endearing one: the longtime second banana who had finally seized his moment.

John Pareles, The New York Times, 12/3/97