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Ray Davies: See My Friends

With friends like these...

What happens when an archetypally English songsmith revisits his back catalogue in partnership with Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Corgan and others?

Good things, mostly. That said, there are slightly too many anodyne roots-rock strummers here, including Paloma Faith’s ho-hum stroll- through of Lola and Amy McDonald’s bluesy-busker take on Dead End Street. Those annoyingly upbeat folk-lite poshos Mumford & Sons also lack the world-weary depths to tease out the sublime sadness from the much-covered Kinks classic Days.

Thankfully, the old guard do a better of job of making Davies raise his game, especially Springsteen’s roaring duet on Better Things, Metallica’s growly garage-rock gallop through You Really Got Me, and a pleasingly punchy ‘Til The End of the Day featuring the late, great Alex Chilton.

The only real stinker is the Bon Jovi collaboration Celluloid Heroes, which loses too much in translation when the wistful lyrics pass from wry Englishman to windy New Jersey poodle-rocker – but you kind of guessed that might happen.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.