Ray(mond Douglas) Davies Mark Fleischmann - Essay

Mark Fleischmann

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[If you doubt that Low Budget's] unifying idea is modern urban malaise à la Davies, you may have a bit of trouble accounting for the claustrophobic outlook of "In a Space," the dancing whore and babbling street loon who meet Ray's compassionate eye in "Little Bit of Emotion," his view of Captain America as a helpless giant in "Catch Me Now I'm Falling," the disco arrangement of "Superman," and the very existence of a song called "Pressure"—all on the same record. As the Kinks enter the '80s Ray's idealized village green is long gone, having been formally razed on Preservation, and perhaps even Arthur's suburban haunt may well have grown a little dirtier and more impersonal in the decade since 1969, as the world around it got a bit nastier year by year.

Not that the Kinks are ready to lay down and die. If "Rock and Roll Fantasy" and the title cut from Misfits limned Ray's internal struggle between intermittent self-doubt and self-affirmation, Low Budget shows the latter tendency winning out. In "Attitude" Raymond Douglas Davies the affirmer (or somebody) rebukes Raymond Douglas Davies the doubter for his defeatist attitude, perhaps with some prodding from the new wave, setting the stage for a record of tough—but in the Kinks tradition, almost invariably fun—rock and roll.

On the negative side, the choice of Low Budget, a so-so, sort of heavy-handed rocker, as title cut, is questionable….

Flaws aside, though, it's still a great album, certainly one of the year's best so far….

Mark Fleischmann, "Album Reviews: 'Low Budget'," in Trouser Press (copyright © 1979 by Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press, Inc.), Vol. 6, No. 9, October, 1979, p. 34.