Did you know that Paste owns the world’s largest collection of live music recordings? It’s true! And what’s even crazier, it’s all free—hundreds of thousands of exclusive songs, concerts and videos that you can listen to and watch right here at Paste.com, from Muddy Waters to The Rolling Stones to R.E.M. to LCD Soundsystem. Every day, we’ll dig through the archive to find the coolest recording we have from that date in history. Enjoy!
Today in the Paste Vault we find a vintage concert recording of British Invasion legends The Kinks playing a hometown show at the Hippodrome Theatre in London on July 14, 1974.
This was a strange year for The Kinks, who were supporting their two-act Preservation rock opera, an impossibly ambitious and ultimately doomed project that centered on a character named Mr. Flash (played by Ray Davies onstage) and his nemesis Mr. Black (played by Dave Davies), a corporatist. At the Hippodrome, Ray (who had recently recovered from a marital split and a drug overdose) doesn’t try too hard to explain the context of the songs in relation to the larger story they represent; like all great artists, he lets the work speak for itself. The set comprises several songs from Preservation: Act 1, as well a handful of more well-received classics, like “Victoria,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and “Lola.”
To capture the theatrical sound of the record, the Kinks added a horn section and backup singers to there stage show, becoming a powerful sonic machine in the process. Critics didn’t love the Preservation project, but the live renditions of the songs were undeniably great thanks to expanded lineup.
To start, here’s a crystal clear performance of Preservation: Act 1 standout “Demolition,” a funky track made huge by the horns and backup singers that warrants rediscovery for all you classic-rock fans out there.
Next comes the theatrical rocker “Here Comes Flash,” sung by Dave Davies along with backups Claire Hamill and Pamela Travis, about the opera’s nefarious central character.
He is gonna rough you up,
Duff you up and touch you up,
And then he’s gonna screw you up.
Even though he’s mean on you,
There’s nothing else that you can do,
Just sit back and take his abuse.
He will smile at you, be so sweet to you,
Then he’s gonna cheat on you.
Preservation was a heavy lift for many Kinks fans, so Ray and Dave included some undeniable crowdpleasers in their 1974 set. Here’s a playful version of “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” from 1965’s Kinkdom. Ray asks the crowd to sing along as the song begins, and they more than oblige.
And here’s a spot-on, hard-driving version of the radio staple “Lola,” from 1970’s Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, which gets a huge roar when announced.
Some artists become victims of their own creativity, each work growing more complex in concept and execution until the burden is more than any one person can bear. Both Davies could be described this way, but they also managed to create one of the most astonishingly original and literate bodies of work in all of popular music.