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Of the Oakland Press

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In more than 40 years of recording, Ray Davies has managed to avoid what seemed like an obvious course to many — a solo album.

Until now, that is.

Davies’ “Other People’s Lives,” which came out in February, is the fi rst full-fl edged solo effort in the Kinks frontman’s lengthy career, although not his fi rst foray outside the band. In 1985, Davies composed and recorded the soundtrack for the film “Return to Waterloo,” and in 1998 he released “The Storyteller,” a live album from a series of solo shows (which included readings from his 1995 memoir “XRay”) that inspired VH1’s “Storytellers” series.

Davies — who performs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday (July 1st) on the Comerica Tastefest's Motor City Casino Main Stage — previewed some of “Other People’s Songs” with an EP, “Thanksgiving Day,” released in the fall of 2005. But Davies, 62, says it’s always been something of a leap for him to release any project bearing his name only.

“It’s hard for me to think of myself as a solo artist,” he acknowledges. “I still find it difficult to come to terms with. There was talk at one point years ago, when I first started presenting the songs for (the Kinks’ album) ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’; a couple of guys didn’t want to do what they felt was a private project under the band’s name, but we wound up doing it as (the Kinks).

“It’s a lot to do with identity, this record. I’m still grappling with this issue.”

Davies — who’s unmarried and has four children, including 22-year-old daughter Natalie with the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde — notes that “there is more bare me” on the album. But he adds that the very title “Other People’s Lives” should be a clear indication that he doesn’t intend the album as a purely autobiographical treatise.

“I like the people that have little quirks in their lives, and low-achieving people,” he says. “I think they’re worth writing about — moreso than myself, really. I don’t think I’ve lost that. It’s just something in me — I find a quirk in people.”

One thing the album is not about, he says, is a mugging in January 2004 in New Orleans, where he’d moved the previous fall, during which Davies was shot.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever,” he says, though he acknowledges some of “Other People’s Lives” — particularly the track “After the Fall” — seem “eerie” in light of what happened.

“This album, because of recent events in my life, people think it has a back story,” he acknowledges. “But only two of the songs on this album are New Orleans songs, and they were recorded before the incident down there. It’s all pre-incident music.”

There are post-incident songs, too, which Davies hopes to finish and release in the near future, along with a documentary about the making of “Other People’s Lives.” He’s also working on a musical project with a high school marching band he’s befriended in New Orleans.

And he’s not ruling out future work with his brother and Kinks partner Dave Davies, noting that their famously combative relationship has softened over time — especially since his brother suffered a stroke in June 2004.

“I think what we’ll do is get together after I’ve done this project,” Davies says, “and we’ll sit down and see if there’s any music we feel is relevant to do, and if so we’ll go into the studio and record it and maybe play dates.

“Actually, I’m still waiting for him to turn up on stage and give me a hard time!”


*Common (8:30 p.m.) and House Shoes, 7 p.m. Friday (June 30th), Main Stage — Common’s the perfect MC to show the masses at a free festival that all rap is not gangstacentric, and he may preview some material from his upcoming seventh album, “Finding Forever,” which comes out in September. House Shoes’ set will be one of the DJ’s last local performances before relocating to Los Angeles.

*Amadou and Mariam, 9 p.m. Saturday (July 1st), Pure Detroit Stage — The blind duo from Mali’s latest release, “Dimanche a Bamako,” was a fi xture on best-of-2005 polls. Here’s a chance to find out why.

*SSM, the Sights, 8 and 9 p.m. Sunday (July 2nd), Park Stage — Trio rock nirvana from two of the city’s most exciting bands. (The Hard Lessons on the same stage at 9 p.m. Saturday (July 1st)aren’t a bad bet, either.)

*Paxahau Presents ... 4-10:30 p.m. Monday (July 3rd), Pure Detroit Stage — The electronic promoters celebrate a successful Movement festival with an allday residency featuring Deadbeat, Carlos Souffront, Michael Geiger, Mike Huckaby and Dabrye. Bop early, bop often.

*Orquestra Sensacional, 1 p.m. Tuesday (July 4th), Jazz & Blues Stage: Give the holiday some spice with some hot Salsa sounds by the metro area’s hottest Latin purveyors. And come back for saxophone ace David McMurray at 6 p.m.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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