Music Review: Dave Davies, I Will Be Me

Published on July 2nd, 2013 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Julie Finley


As a “lifer” in regards to being a Kinks fan, I felt that I should definitely review my childhood idol’s newest release, that idol being Dave Davies. I won’t give a history lesson on The Kinks (as there are enough online sources out there that could clue you in), but I do need to note that Dave’s relationship to his brother Ray has been well-documented as being unrestrained, to say the least. It is no mystery that Ray prefers that Dave live in his shadow, and that the competitive dysfunction between the two of them is one of the things that has led to both having a prolific output of work throughout both of their lives (even outside of The Kinks).

Quite honestly, though, Dave’s career is still often overlooked despite the fact he has been even more fruitful in his endeavors regarding the creation of new material. Ray hasn’t had that much solo material since The Kinks stopped recording in the mid-’90s, but the solo work he has put out is mostly rehashing his old catalogue with a few albums of brand new content. Dave has actually put out more original material than Ray since the ’90s! Yes, some of that has been re-releasing long-lost music that was never released as The Kinks, but the bulk of his output has been original material.

What is even more interesting is that Dave has managed to do this independently, plus he had a massive stroke within the past ten years, causing him to have to relearn how he played guitar, on top of just doing the basic things that we all take for granted! He didn’t do I Will Be Me for the money because it’s pretty clear he is spending more money in his creations than he is getting back. This is no “cash cow” like the two last releases that Ray released. Don’t get me wrong: I love Ray Davies, but his last two releases of re-worked Kinks material, were bullshit (especially See My Friends, which was utterly appalling!). With that said, I can say without hesitation that Dave has upstaged his brother on his latest release, I Will Be Me.

With that bold statement, I will also be very honest in this review and tell you that I didn’t love every song on this album. The one that sticks out as being a real dud is “When I First Saw You,” but it isn’t the musical composition itself or the melody. It isn’t the lyrics; it isn’t Dave’s voice (which has truly changed since his stroke, but is still undeniably him—I’m just glad he survived it). No, the thing I don’t care for in that song is the voice of his collaborator (a girl by the name of “Geri X”). I have no idea who she is, but her voice sucks and it detracts from the song itself. I wasn’t all that fond of “Midnight in L.A.” as I found it too repetitive; the song called “The Actress” was also a bit too corny for my taste.

However, the rest of I Will Be Me is excellent! Three cruddy songs out of 12 don’t ruin an album. The song “Little Green Amp” is a collaboration with the band Anti-Flag, and it rocks! It is probably one of Dave’s most autobiographical in the sense that he talks about how his music career started. Lyrically, it is funny, but mostly sad because he talks candidly about the memory of his teenage romance, which ended up in a teenage pregnancy (and yes, this happened before The Kinks were a band) and how the parental figures kept him and his girl apart.

He talks about this in more detail in his autobiography Kink, including what the hell really happened, and how it is a subject that filled him full of anger and regret. “Little Green Amp” touches on his anger and feelings of helplessness when these unfortunate events took place in his life, and how he took that anger out on his Elpico amp, by slicing up the speaker cone with a razor blade (inadvertently creating distortion guitar!). His guitar sound wasn’t expressing his anger enough; it needed to be as loud as his soul. This songs also plays a backwards riff of “You Really Got Me” as its melody. Needless to say, I dig it.

I also quite like “The Healing Boy,” which is odd since I usually don’t care about songs about children. Lyrically, it’s about the birth of Dave’s first grandson and how it affected him emotionally (as well as spiritually). I ended up liking it more for its musical sound and vocals than story because I really like the use of a sitar and violin in it, and Dave is doing that rich self-harmonization with his voice, which is what I’ve always loved about the sound of it.

The other songs that I feel are standouts are: “In the Mainframe” (with The Bloody Hollies backing); the psychedelic “Energy Fields” (with backing by Dead Meadow); the hilarious and sexy “Erotic Neurotic” (with backing by Aussie band called The Art); and the beautiful “Cote Du Rhone (I Will Be Me)” (with guest awesome guitarist, Chris Spedding).

Dave Davies is very open about his spirituality and sensitivity, as well as his sexuality, which is why I Will Be Me is the perfect title for this album, because Dave is who he is, and doesn’t really give a shit if you approve or not (but of course, if it is well-liked, I’m sure that would make him smile!).

I Will Be Me was released through Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records on June 4 and is available via the label’s website or Amazon.

5 Responses to “Music Review: Dave Davies, I Will Be Me

  1. Andy Zahn:
    July 10th, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Julie: Great review. The title track is such a great song. Healing Boy is a song John Lennon would have been proud to write….reminds me of Lennon. I went to several shows on in the US and Dave was fabulous. Thanks for your review. I love the album. PS. I thought Ray’s Other People’s Lives was a great album. I would be interested in your opinion. on See My friends I did really like the Mumford and Sons medley.

  2. Gregory J Malis:
    July 11th, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I listened to “I Will Be Me” on SoundCloud – enjoyed it upon listening – still have to pick it up however as Dave is coming to town for “Taste of Lincoln Ave”. I guess I must love Dave too, because even though I look forward to the free concert, there is a bit of trepidation involved. I still worry about his health and am fearful that boorish craft beer drinking oafs in the area may put a damper on things if Dave isn’t spot on that night – I have seen him several times over the years, but he was always “preaching to the Kwire” and obviously could do no wrong ~

    July 11th, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you for your comments.
    Andy: As far as Ray’s “Other People’s Lives” – storywise/lyrically its excellent. I don’t think Ray has the ability to write bad lyrics, so its obvious that part of the album is great. I didn’t really find any of the songs particularly catchy like a Kinks song would be. I felt Dave had more songs on this album that are going to stick in your head, and you’ll find yourself humming the melodies long after the fact. I didn’t get that kind of feeling from any of Ray’s stuff. It also seems a bit overproduced, just too clean. The Kinks were always rough around the edges, which added to a richness of their sound. I think Dave has a better knack at emulating the rough-cut production value, and is much more experimental with sound & technique. Ray’s solo works (musically) are bit too stale and session-musician-like. They elude to what a musician does, when they can’t come up with any more melodies – it almost seems like a template. Ray could benefit with more experimentation on the compositions themselves. The “See My Friends” album I couldn’t stomach, really. He was basically working with musicians that suck, but some have more popularity than him (for reasons I have yet to figure out, because Bon Jovi, for instance, is/always will be unlistenable!) I didn’t like the Mumford & Sons medley in particular, because it reminded me of a Dave Matthews-cover band, doing a Kinks song.

    Gregory: I know what you mean by trepidation in regards to his show. ANY free show is going to bring out the turds looking for a hand-out (and they will be piss-drunk and obnoxious on top of that). You want to go to enjoy a musician you truly admire, but don’t want to do that with the summer festival-scumbags coming to ruin it. The same ilk that set off fireworks in their backyards and blow-off their fingers in the process. No one that loves a musician or band, wants to be around those kind of creeps in the audience. They will either heckle or shout out “YOU REALLY GOT ME!” over & over again! The last time I saw Ray in concert was in a theatre, and there were these drunken slobs directly behind me that were so inebriated that they dropped their cup of beer all over me! They were also yelling throughout the set, wherein I couldn’t even hear the music. Once the beer incident happened, the guards threw them out, but I had to sit there covered in beer the rest of the night!

  4. Guy:
    July 12th, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Your review is interesting. The only song my wife actually liked was “When I First Saw You” because she thought it was the only song that didn’t sound like all the others which according to her all sounded the same. She likes The Kinks hits but other than that, she is not a fan.

    As for me, I am an avid Kinks fan, and the one song I didn’t like on Dave’s album was “Walker Through The World,” but I did find the rest of the album to be one of Dave’s better efforts even with his struggles as a result of the stroke he suffered. My only critique is that I would have liked more guitar solos by Dave which has long been my critique of many Kinks songs in general. I always felt Dave’s guitar work too often took a back seat to Ray’s lyrical endeavors. Dave has never got his just due as a guitarist for that very reason in my opinion.

  5. Phil Grabar:
    May 25th, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    I couldn’t disagree more about “When I First Saw You” and Geri X. I thought it was the best song on the album. I love Geri X’s pure voice – you should listen to some of her solo work. To paraphrase a great Kinks song, she’s not like everybody else.

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