Music » CD Reviews

Ray Davies

Working Man's Café (New West)



Even though Ray Davies' Working Man's Café opens with one of the rock legend's canniest topical tunes, the album comes off as a bit of a disappointment following his proper solo debut, Other People's Lives, two years ago. Over the four-bar blues shuffle of "Vietnam Cowboys," the former Kinks frontman bemoans globalization's accelerating pace: "Mass production in Saigon/While auto workers are laid off in Cleveland," he sings. The flinty rock bite meshes nicely with Davies' caustic wit. Unfortunately, the rest of Café lacks that spirit.

Where Lives bristled with tight, well-written songs packed into dynamic arrangements, Café limps along like The English Patient. "No One Listen," "One More Time," and "Hymn for a New Age" are keen laments from rock's original grumpy old man, but musically they're inert, lacking hooks, heft, and memorable choruses. The CD is heavy on overproduced ballads and mid-tempo cuts, with actual rockers falling few and far between. Come for the lyrics — don't stay for the music.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.