Ray Davies is one of the most versatile songwriters and artists in the rock and roll pantheon. Throughout a long career, he’s displayed a remarkable talent for crafting memorable songs, ranging from the guitar power of classic singles like “You Really Got Me” to the more reflective, pastoral tones of “Waterloo Sunset.” JEM Records Celebrates Ray Davies is the latest volume in the extraordinary JEM Records Celebrates series, which has previously saluted John Lennon, Brian Wilson, and Pete Townshend. This time out, the label turns its focus to the masterful work of Davies, whose phenomenal songs are saluted by a sensational group of artists from the current JEM roster.
The album kicks off with New York-based rockers The Midnight Callers, whose harmony-rich, glam rock-fueled makeover of the 1983 hit “Come Dancing” not only re-invents but re-invigorates the song.
That terrific tune is followed by Nick Piunti and The Complicated Men’s modern rock conversion of “Til the End of the Day.” The Anderson Council chimes in with the 1960s vibes of “Do You Remember Walter,” a track originally featured on the 1968 concept album The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. Of course, no Davies tribute would be complete without a version of “Lola” and New Jersey’s The Weeklings re-imagine that iconic 1970 hit as a country-rock tune with their excellent interpretation of the song.
JEM’s multi-talented psychedelic pop heroes also deliver fantastic interpretations of several Kinks classics. The Grip Weeds offer up splendid versions of “Where Have All The Good Times Gone,” from The Kink Kontroversy, and the 1965 single “See My Friends.” The Gold Needles turn in an outstanding reading of “Village Green Preservation Society,” and The Anderson Council returns with the B-side favorite “This Is Where I Belong.”
Power popper Johnathan Pushkar joins the celebration with an enthusiastic, rockabilly infused “I Gotta Move” as well as a marvelous rendition of “David Watts.” The Airport 77s arrive with a delightful run-through of “Picture Book,” while The Cynz rock out on a punk-fueled, exhilarating “I Need You.” Lisa Mychols & Super 8 close out the record with a beautiful version of “Days,” one of Davies’ most enchanting lyrics.
In the spirit of Davies’ eclectic catalog, the artists featured on JEM Records Celebrates Ray Davies give these classic songs their own spin, but don’t take the originals for granted. This excellent album gives you the chance to explore Davies’ magnificent oeuvre, and experience it through the passion and respect these bands have for his exemplary work.
If you’re not already a fan of the stellar groups included on JEM Records Celebrates Ray Davies, the album will definitely inspire you to head over to check out the music of the artists featured on this exceptional release. The album comes out on CD and digital formats on August 11.
Photo: Ray Davies (Getty Images)