The Kinks – Think Visual (1986)

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The Kinks - Think Visual (1986)

The Kinks – Think Visual (1986)
EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 340 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 156 Mb | Scans included
Classic Rock | Label: MCA | # MCAD-5822 | Time: 00:44:25

Released in late 1986, “Think Visual” is the first album the Kinks did for MCA Records. Arista Records seemingly sensed that the Kinks period of commercial renaissance was over following the dropoff in sales of 1984’s “Word Of Mouth”. Indeed, the sales dropoff continued with “Think Visual”, but don’t let that fool you. “Think Visual” is an engaging, spirited rock record that no Kinks fan should be without.

Ray Davies does continue to mine very familiar lyrical territory throughout the album. He attacks the record industry on “Working At The Factory”, sends up big business corporations on the title track, comments on getting stuck in a day-to-day rut on “Repetition”, and looks back on the ‘good old days’ on “Welcome To Sleazy Town”. “Lost and Found” is one of those spiritually-minded Ray songs where an incident that initially seems like a tragedy serves the over-arching purpose of heightening one’s perception and appreciation of life. Granted, a lot of the lyrics do seem a little weak and formulaic, but it’s often to amusing effect that’s fun and isn’t embarassing, and Ray shows he definitely has his sense of humor working for him on the highly amusing “The Video Shop”.

Quality songs abound. The irresistible, uptempo title track links together several extremely catchy bits in its 3:12 running time, containing riffy lead guitar work from Dave Davies, plus a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it musical hall-flavored sections. “Lost and Found” is an uplifting feel-good ballad-it’s a little overly slick, but still nicely atmospheric. “Welcome To Sleazy Town” is an excellent bluesy detour. The horn-powered, reggae/ ska-styled “The Video Shop” is infectious and perfectly suits the humorous lyrics. The wistful Dave Davies-penned album-closer “When You Were A Child” is a moving, wonderfully tuneful uptempo pop-rocker. The album-opening rocker “Working At The Factory” and the swinging “Repetition are fine tracks as well. Quite frankly, there really aren’t any weak tracks on the entire disc.

Like with previous Kinks albums, there are moments here that give you an inescapable “where have I heard that before?” feeling. The back-and-forth between ‘F’ and ‘G’ chords on “How Are You” instantly recalls “Tired Of Waiting For You”. The chorus of “Welcome To Sleazy Town” features a guitar riff that sounds like it was beamed in straight from Genesis’ “Misunderstanding” (which itself sounds extremely similar to Sly & the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun In the Summertime”). The title track sounds extremely similar to the Kinks’ own “Definite Maybe” (from the “State of Confusion” album), with some of the riffing being copied note-for-note. And don’t even get me started on “Natural Gift”…

In short, “Think Visual” is a highly worthwhile and underrated album from one of the most appealing bands in history. If you see this CD in a used bin for a few bucks in solid condition, it’s a great deal.

Think Visual, the band’s first album for MCA Records, represented an artistic dead end for the Kinks, as Ray Davies continued to crank out a series of competent, but undistinguished hard rockers. Out of all the loud, riff-driven numbers, only Dave Davies’ “Rock N’ Roll Cities” made a lasting impression. Ray’s gentler songs weren’t among his most memorable, relying on slight melodies and underdeveloped lyrics.

In typically perverse style, Ray Davies kicks off the Kinks’ debut effort for their new label with “Working at the Factory,” a searing indictment of the industrialization of rock. The song finds Ray in a mood of pissed-off resignation, as if he’s finally given up altogether on whatever remained of his rock & roll fantasy. Ray even points a finger at “the corporations and the big combines,” which he blames for having “turned musicians into factory workers on assembly lines.” And on the title track of Think Visual, Ray mocks the sort of bottom-line music-biz advice that gets thrown his way: “Marketing says we gotta merchandise/But economy says we gotta minimize huh/We gotta bud-get to face and the market place is full/Of competition, competition.”

But don’t expect to hear the Kinks talking tough like that on the airwaves – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Cities,” the first single from Think Visual, is anything but a gutsy statement. This utterly uninspired tour song – written by Dave Davies around a woefully tired riff – engages in the worst sort of rock hucksterism. He even resorts to spitting out the names of a few cities, “from Buffalo to the Gulf of Mexico.” This is the sort of desperate, airplay-seeking number that only a radio programmer could love.

Still, fear not, Kinks Kroniklers – all is not lost. Ray Davies continues to be one of rock’s most intelligent songwriters, particularly on the slower material. “Lost and Found,” for example, is a gorgeous ballad about a couple in New York City weathering their own storm as a hurricane sweeps across the coastline. And the melancholy “How Are You” is another of Ray’s well-crafted songs of love and loss.

But one wonders why – aside from the obvious business concerns – Ray Davies needs the Kinks anymore. At this point, the group features as many original members of Argent as it does original members of the Kinks. While the playing on Think Visual is always competent, it’s rarely more than that. And Dave Davies’s two songwriting contributions – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Cities” and the equally boring “When You Were a Child” – indicate that the longstanding sibling rivalry between the Davies brothers may have outlived its artistic purpose. Think Visual is another acceptable Kinks album, but it’s also a frustrating suggestion that Ray Davies remains capable of much, much more. (RS 491)

The Kinks - Think Visual (1986)


01. Working at the Factory (3:01)
02. Lost and Found (5:19)
03. Repetition (4:07)
04. Welcome to Sleazy Town (3:50)
05. The Videoshop (5:15)
06. Rock ‘N Roll Cities (3:44)
07. How Are You (4:29)
08. Think Visual (3:13)
09. Natural Gift (3:45)
10. Killing Time (4:02)
11. When You Were a Child (3:41)

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