Dave-Davies-CDDave Davies is the sound wizard, the guitar maestro, the inventor of the distortion. One of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, according to Rolling Stone.

Davies was responsible for the signature distorted power chord sound on The Kinks’ first hit, “You Really Got Me”. He originally achieved the sound by slitting the speaker cone on his Elpico amplifier, which he then ran through a larger Vox as a “pre-amp”. This sound was one of the first mainstream appearances of guitar distortion, which was to have a major influence on many later musicians, especially in heavy metal and punk rock. Davies later commented:

I was getting really bored with this guitar sound – or lack of an interesting sound – and there was this radio spares shop up the road, and they had a little green amplifier in there next to the radios, it was an Elpico[…] I twiddled around with it and didn’t know what to do[…] I started to get really frustrated, and I said, “I know! I’ll fix you!” I got a single-sided Gillette razorblade and cut round the cone like this (slitting from the centre to the edge of the cone), so it was all shredded but still on there, still intact. I played and I thought it was amazing, really freaky. I felt like an inventor! We just close-miked that in the studio, and also fed the same speaker output into the AC30, which was kind of noisy but sounded good.” [Source: Wikipedia]

2013 is the year of a new album for Dave Davies. He leaves behind his past and his guitar legend status, proving that he is a perpetual artist. “No matter what they do or say, the future’s here to stay!”, he says in one of his new songs.

From the first chord, Davies marks his musical signature on this new album. The distorted sound vibrates at the beginning of the “Little Green Amp”,  a look back to the British Invasion years. The song is a colourful and noisy anthem of his beginnings, an ode to his spirited guitar.

It seems that, over the years, Davies has played a number of guitars, but the most recognizable is his Gibson Flying V. Davies bought it in 1965, and soon began appearing live and on TV performances with it. Davies was one of the few guitarists who played Flying Vs at the time. It was, in that period, out of issue due to lack of interest upon its 1958 test release, and models were numbered. Guitarists like Lonnie Mack, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and Davies himself helped stir interest in the instrument, and it would eventually become one of the signature guitars of the heavy metal era. [Source: Wikipedia]

The second song of the album, “Livin’ in the past”, begins with the same groovy guitar tune, but then emphasizes that the present moment is the one that really matters. I found the same “carpe diem”-ish statement in the latter “Energy Fields”, a whimsical psychedelic song. The “energy fields” and the “dimensional shifts” are a promise towards freedom, infinity and eternity. “Remember the future” is a musical dichotomy of past and future, a meaningful story told “under the starlight”.

“The Healing Boy” is delicate song softly whispered, while “When I First Saw You” is a candid ballad sang in a duet. “The Actress” is another beautiful ballad, a love statement for the romantics.

In the same time, the effervescent “Midnight in L.A.” seems to break this serenity. This song reminds me of  the “Californication” series, describing L.A. as a lost world of free spirits and fragile realities. But the climax of this art manifesto is “Walker Through The Worlds” is a dream, a phantasmagoria, an illusory world of sound and fervor. It is a continuous seek for eternal peace through the worlds , through the hearts, across the sky, in the stars. Dave Davies’ album is indeed an elaborate masterpiece, a conglomerate of creative guitar, vigorous sounds and bright lyrics.

Categories: Reviews

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