Picks and Pans Review: UK Jive

updated 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Kinks

In the first verse of the good old-fashioned love ballad "How Do I Get Close," lead singer Ray Davies describes the people who surround him, people with false values and "designer feelings" who think it's necessary to keep their distance from everyone else. Suddenly the instruments and background singers drop away. With quiet defiance, Davies asks, "What do they know?"

Okay, so it's on the corny side. But delivered with theatrical dexterity, "How Do I Get Close" is a wonderful high point to UK Jive, the Kinks' 48th album (including compilations and greatest hits). After 25 years, Ray and Dave Davies maintain their agility as the leaders of the Kinks, now a quintet including bass player Jim Rodford, keyboardist Ian Gibbons and drummer Bob Henrit.

The Davies brothers still favor the brash, messy rock that they pounded out as kids. They have also remained faithful to another Kinks trademark: inconsistency. At one point they deliver a hot number like "Down All the Days (to 1992)," probably the first and only rock song to convey infectious optimism about Europe's upcoming economic alliance. In sharp contrast, a few other songs either present a generic melody or lyrics that give no more than a standard rehash of that favorite Kinks topic, alienation from the modern world.

At least on one level, it seems more appropriate than annoying that this band still fails to iron out all its kinks. The music, unspoiled by overzealous producers, still comes straight from the heart, the gut and the soul.

So what if a few songs falter. Just let the Kinks keep churning out albums through the '90s, and they're bound to produce enough entertaining music to fill another mighty fine greatest-hits album on their 30th anniversary in 1995. (MCA)

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