It wasn’t so much violating groupies with seafood and “Hello, Cleveland!” on Kinks tours, it seems, as grotty pants, motorway diets and ragged country yearnings for the Hot Potatoes of home. With one eye on Tommy and the other on Ziggy Stardust, 1972’s Everybody’s In Show-Biz marked Ray Davies’s transition from Britain’s finest purveyor of vaudevillian pop whimsy to concept rock also-ran.
Originally planned as the soundtrack to a film called The Colossal Shirt, about The Kinks’ touring life, its addictive glam-country tunes painted a fairly grim portrait of the minutiae of tour-bus living. Here Comes Yet Another Day dealt with the non-stop tour routine that left no time for personal hygiene, while Maximum Consumption detailed the mammoth carb intake necessary to maintain this ‘total automation perpetual motion’.
When it isn’t musing on skidmarks and Ginsters, Show-Biz considers the existential disconnect of fame. If Davies’s You Don’t Know My Name tackled the issue of ‘fans’ who’ve never noticed anyone but the frontman (commonly known as Coldplay syndrome), he pondered the transience and artifice of stardom. His Roxy Music ragtime Unreal Reality gawped at his surreal world of gigantic houses and fashionista freaks that revolved around him, and the gorgeous pastoral gospel of Sitting In My Hotel found him wondering what his mates back in Muswell Hill would make of the satin-clad rock star he’d become, ill-fitting his celebrity skin.
The accompanying hit-free Carnegie Hall live album – here expanded to include 17 out-takes, live tracks and a rehearsal version of Money Talks – was Davies kicking back against his pop past, a sign of the mid-70s concept album onslaught to come. A transition album, but … Show-Biz remains a slice of sublime uncertainty.