Live Jive! (Bellbottom-039/40)
Muskihalle, Hamburg, Germany – December 22nd, 1989
Disc 1 (72:30): Intro, Around The Dial, The Hard Way, War Is Over, Loony Balloon, Too Much On My Mind, Sunny Afternoon, Low Budget, Come Dancing, How Do I Get Close To You, UK Jive, It (I Want It), Guilty, Living On A Thin Line, Down All The Days, Dead End Street, I’m Not Like Everybody Else, Apeman
Disc 2 (54:50): Welcome To Sleazy Town, Lola, Days, Aggravation, All Day And All Of The Night, Father Christmas (Fade Out). Bonus tracks, Alfred University, Alfred, NY – April 19th, 1990: Intro/Do It Again, I’m Not Like Everybody Else, Celluloid Heroes, Till The End Of The Day, A Well Respected Man, You Really Got Me
The Kinks released UK Jive in October 1989. For what would turn out to be the band’s penultimate release, they toured Germany for about a week in December right before Christmas. The December 22nd show in Hamburg, presented on Live Jive! on Bellbottom, was the final show of the tour, of the year, and of the decade.
Bellbottom use a very good stereo audience recording. It is a bit fuzzy during very loud parts, but is an enjoyable document of an infectious Kinks show taped by what sound like a couple of people from France who made the trek to see the band (they played only in Germany). The only significant cut is about sixty seconds into the encore “Father Christmas” eliminating most of the song.
The show begins with the taped instrumental overture of well-known Kinks riffs in a glorious pastiche before they begin with “Around The Dial” from Give The People What They Want followed by “The Hard Way” from Schoolboys In Disgrace. Ray Davies has such faith in their catalog he won’t rely upon their sixties hits or their late seventies and early eighties peak, but will choose songs from all eras.
Ray sings a little catchy greeting to a boisterous audience before carrying on with two new songs, “War Is Over” and “Loony Balloon.” The latter is extremely catchy, sounding almost like a gently lullaby punctuated by Dave’s fuzzy electric guitar riffs.
Afterwards Ray introduces his brother Dave who sings the next song “Too Much On My Mind.” Ray points out that the song, released originally in 1966 on Face To Face, appears in a German film called The American Friend (Der amerikanische Freund) in 1977. They follow with another song from the sixties, “Sunny Afternoon,” also from Face To Face. During the cheer Ray exclaims that the band is on a “LOW BUDGET!!!” While leading the audience to sing the chorus, he stops and jokes, “this is fifty-eight beats per second. This is a hit second time that Michael Jackson makes all of his records. This is his tempo. Michael Jackson tempo,” and when someone in the front row sings loudly, Ray points out that he loves his singing!
After “Come Dancing” they play two more songs from the new album. Ray admits that “How Do I Get Close?” is a ballad and he has problems with writing and singing songs like that. It sounds nice but the new songs, the title track “UK Jive” is much more confident as he coaches the audience with the appropriate responses.
Dave Davies has two songs in a row, “Guilty” and “Walking On A Thin Line” both from 1984’s Word Of Mouth. Another new song, the catchy “Down All The Days (to 1992)” follows. The video for the song was released about this time.
Older songs take more precedence at this point in the show. They follow with three tunes from their sixties work, “Dead End Street” (with Ray’s vocal games with the audience), “I’m Not Like Everyone Else” and the great “Apeman.” Ray accompanies each of the three on acoustic guitar and leads the crowd through the sing (and clap) alongs.
“Welcome To Sleazy Town” is the only song from the abysmal Think Visual. It carries a nice blues beat and nice riffing from Dave. Their biggest hit “Lola” follows. It includes all of the “Day-O” referneces and the stop and starts Ray uses to tease and coax the crowd. It’s a fun moment and the highlight of the evening.
Afterwards Ray sings a rushed version of “Days.” The set seems to end with the long and aggressive “Aggravation” from the new album. It is one of the most underrated Kinks songs from the eighties and a compelling live piece with its many changes in style and rhythm. The encores are “You Really Got Me” and, to celebrate Christmas, “Father Christmas.” It’s a shame it cuts out in the middle.
The bonus tracks come from the spring tour of the Northeastern colleges in April 1990. Again in support of UK Jive, these were very small shows on college campuses exclusively. The bonus tracks contain twenty-five minutes of the April 19th show at Alfred University, the first night of the tour.
The recording is good but at times quite overloaded and distorted. It starts off with a great version of “Do It Again” followed by an electric version of “I’m Not Like Everyone Else” (in contrast to the mellow acoustic arrangement played in Hamburg). It’s followed by “Celluloid Heroes.” Ray has to stop in the middle and ask the crowed, “Is everyone here a star?”
The rest of the tape is also quite good with nice versions of the snarky “Well Respected Man” and “You Really Got Me.”
Not many silver pressed titles are in circulation documenting this era of the Kinks. They hit a rough patch with both their audience and the press in the late eighties from which they never really recovered. Listening to this release, and the strength of the newer songs, begs the question why that was. The Kinks remains one of the seminal bands (they were induced into the Hall Of Fame between Hamburg and Alfred) and everything they did had some merit.
The Bellbottom label normally releases the worst audience tapes, but this is a rare good release and is worth having.