Low Budget (album)
|Studio album by The Kinks|
|Released||10 July 1979 (US)
7 September 1979 (UK)
|Recorded||January 1979 – June 1979 at the Power Station and Blue Rock Studios, New York|
|The Kinks chronology|
|Singles from Low Budget|
Low Budget is the seventeenth studio album by the English rock group, The Kinks, released in 1979. Following the minor success of their 1978 album Misfits, the band recorded the majority of the album in New York rather than London. Unlike the more nostalgic themes of many Kinks albums prior to Low Budget, the album contains many songs that appeal to current events of the time. Musically, the album is a continuation of the band's "arena rock" phase, resulting in a more rock-based sound and more modern production techniques.
Despite being a relative failure in the UK, Low Budget was a great success for the group in the US, not only becoming their best-selling non-compilation album, but also peaking at #11 on the American album charts. The lead single, "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" was also a minor hit in the US, reaching #41. The album was also praised by many critics in the US, although reception was more mixed in the band's native UK.
After spending the majority of the 1970s focusing on lofty concept albums, such as the two-part Preservation album, The Kinks began to lose the commercial success they had regained with their 1970 hit single, "Lola." However, upon switching from RCA Records to Arista Records in the summer of 1976, the band gradually began to regain commercial success in America. Abandoning the conceptual work they had created during their RCA years, the band's 1976 album Sleepwalker and 1978 album Misfits were both modest hits in the United States, as were their respective first singles, "Sleepwalker" and "A Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy."
However, throughout this period, the band's lineup began to fluctuate, not only with both bassist John Dalton (and short-term replacement Andy Pyle) and keyboardist John Gosling departing from the band, but founding drummer Mick Avory also considered leaving. Avory eventually agreed to stay, while ex-Argent bass player Jim Rodford, and keyboardist Gordon John Edwards were recruited, the latter having played with The Pretty Things on their album Silk Torpedo. Edwards was shortly afterwards fired from the group for failing to show up to sessions for Low Budget, being replaced with Ian Gibbons following the album's release.
Recording for Low Budget first began in early 1979 at the band's own Konk Studios in London, where "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman", the result of Arista founder Clive Davis's request for a radio friendly hit, and the album's title track were cut. After these sessions, the rest of the album was recorded at the Power Station and Blue Rock Studios in New York. Studio engineer John Rollo said of these initial sessions, "The album before [Low Budget, Misfits] was beautifully recorded, but not that rock and roll. I think the first two songs [I did, "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" and "Low Budget"] went extremely well and the band wanted to spend some time in New York, to get away from distractions and kept it as a raw band recording."
Recording in New York began in April 1979. Along with the tracks that appeared in the final running order of Low Budget, versions of songs that would appear on the album's 1981 follow-up Give the People What They Want, such as "Destroyer" and "Give the People What They Want" (and possibly "Yo-Yo" and "Better Things") are attempted. Also tried during the sessions are "Massive Reductions", the B-side of "Better Things" in the UK that was later rerecorded for the band's 1984 album Word of Mouth, and outtakes "Hidden Qualities" and "Laugh at the World". Final mixes and the running order for the album are worked on during June of that year.
Music and lyrics
After a decade of concept albums and songs that recalled simpler times, Low Budget marked a new direction for the Kinks by addressing contemporary issues such as inflation, labour strife (which was especially severe in the U.K. during the 1978-79 Winter of Discontent), and the 1979 energy crisis. Songs such as "Catch Me Now I'm Falling", which was Davies' take on America's declining influence in the world, "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman", "Low Budget", and "A Gallon of Gas", epitomized these themes.
Mick Avory said of the album's lyrics, "Ray's writing was [previously] too subtle. When we did the big arenas in the late seventies he was writing harder stuff that would come across. When we signed with Arista, Clive Davis would always talk about getting us into the bigger venues and the music changed so we could get them across in the large places. When we made Low Budget, that was a turning point really."
Release and reception
Prior to the release of Low Budget, "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" was released as a single in early 1979, backed with "Low Budget". Although the single failed to make an impact in Britain, it became a modest hit in America, reaching #41. Low Budget was then released on 10 July 1979 in America and on 7 September 1979 in Britain. The album proved to be a major success in the United States, reaching #11 on the Billboard 200 (the band's highest charting studio album to date). Despite the great commercial success the album achieved in America, the album, like every Kinks album since 1967's Something Else by The Kinks, was unable to chart in their native Britain. Follow-up singles to "Superman" were issued ("A Gallon of Gas" and "Catch Me Now I'm Falling" in the US, "Moving Pictures" and "Pressure" in Britain) but they failed to chart.
Low Budget generally received positive reception from music critics, despite most feeling the album was not perfect. Melody Maker spoke positively of the album, saying, "Low Budget is actually worth spending money on." Rolling Stone also praised the album, saying, "the Kinks haven't mounted this kind of rock & roll attack since 'Lola.'" They concluded, "Low Budget may not be the best of their twenty-odd albums released in America, but it's not bad either." Philip Bashe of Good Times wrote, "Strangely, Low Budget is an encouraging album. ... Their playing on this record is heartier than ever, and Ray himself is no longer coy in his delivery[.]" Trouser Press critic Mark Fleischmann said of Low Budget, "Flaws aside, it's still a great album."
In America, a version of "Low Budget" was issued on the 12" single of "Superman" that had the addition of two more verses; this version runs 4:48. This version, like the extended "Come Dancing" four years later, has never been issued as a bonus track, despite many reissuesd of the album, and is only available on vinyl.
The Kinks launched an extensive concert tour in America to support the album. Six of the eleven songs from the album are included on the double-live album One for the Road which was recorded in 1979 and 1980 during the Low Budget tour.
All tracks written by Ray Davies.
|2.||"Catch Me Now I'm Falling"||5:58|
|5.||"(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman"||3:36|
|2.||"In a Space"||3:44|
|3.||"Little Bit of Emotion"||4:51|
|4.||"A Gallon of Gas"||3:48|
|CD reissue bonus tracks|
|12.||"A Gallon of Gas" ([Note 1])||3:52|
|13.||"Catch Me Now I'm Falling" ([Note 2])||6:49|
|14.||"(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" ([Note 3])||5:59|
- U.S. single extended edit with extra verse. Originally released as a single in the United States only, August 1979.
- Original extended edit. Previously unreleased.
- Disco mix extended edit. Originally released as a 12″ single in the United States, 12 March 1979, and in the United Kingdom, March 1979. Never before released on compact disc.
- Ray Davies - guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Dave Davies - guitar, background vocals
- Jim Rodford - bass, background vocals
- Mick Avory - drums
- Nick Newall - saxophone
- John Rollo - engineer
- "Special thanks to" Scott Litt and Raymond Willhard
- Gary Gross - photography
- Cover concept by Ray Davies
- "Kinks, The - Low Budget". discogs.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- Jovanovic 2014, pp. 231-232.
- Jovanovic 2014, pp. 233-234.
- Jovanovic 2014, pp. 236.
- Jovanovic 2014, pp. 235-236.
- Hinman 2004, pp. 228.
- Hinman 2004, pp. 230.
- Jovanovic 2014, pp. 237.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Kinks: Low Budget > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Blender review Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- Christgau, Robert. "The Kinks". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Fricke, Davie (20 September 1979). "The Kinks: Low Budget". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow (RS 300). ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on 2 October 2007.
- Hinman 2004, pp. 226.
- Hinman 2004, pp. 232-235.