http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/e3213bb5f708a7db9ab8e47613257033cc2735c2.jpg Low Budget

The Kinks

Low Budget

JVC Compact Discs
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
September 20, 1979

As Kinks records go, Low Budget wins the award for cheesiest packaging hands down, greatest-hits sets included. The cover photo of the group's logo and the album's title stenciled on a grimy sidewalk between a pair of high-heeled feet would do only a bargain bin proud. No pictures of the band, no credits, no song titles — and that shrink-wrap sticker proclaiming three "new Kinks classics" is at best an exercise in the power of positive thinking.

For all its obvious faults, though, the cover is entirely appropriate to the LP's subject matter. If last year's sporadically memorable Misfits was another chapter in the Kinks' continuing lyrical study of round human pegs struggling to fit into square social holes, then Low Budget is Ray Davies' consideration of how round and square pegs alike plan to deal with the gas crisis, inflation and the decline of the Western economy in general. From the sidelines, Davies acknowledges that his Everyman is beset by catastrophes not of his own making ("Pressure") and then chastises the poor guy for not being optimistic enough ("Attitude").

Since some of the Kinks have taken up temporary residence in New York City, it's a fair guess that Davies has suffered a disillusion or two of his own. The American vision of Utopia is no more realistic than the post-Victorian version in Arthur's "Shangri-La," and Low Budget may be the group's public call to conscience, not just a chance to be witty at the dollar's expense.

Lyrically, Davies can be convincing as well as clever. He scores a direct hit on American foreign policy with the sardonic "Catch Me Now I'm Falling" and applies bitter truths to the cut-rate rhymes of "Low Budget" ("Even my trousers are giving me a pain/They were reduced in a sale so I shouldn't complain"). His muse takes a short vacation for "Attitude," which is humorlessly accusatory almost to the point of being reactionary ("You talk like a docker but you act like a queer"). "A Gallon of Gas" is no great poetic achievement, but its slow, bluesy arrangement — meant, no doubt, to re-create the effect of a snail's pace gas line — heightens the good-natured irony of a situation in which drugs are easier to come by than gasoline.

There is, however, no energy crisis on Low Budget, the hardest rocking Kinks record in recent memory. Longtime drummer Mick Avory really puts-the boot to the disco-driven "(Wish I Could Fly like) Superman," while former Argent bassist Jim Rodford provides more bottom than the band's ever had. And guitarist Dave Davies threatens to upstage his famous brother at every turn, peeling off leads and riffs with spirit and facility. Though the pace starts to drag halfway through side two in the didactic "Little Bit of Emotion" and the blandly reflective "Moving Pictures," the Kinks haven't mounted this kind of rock & roll attack since Lola. Low Budget may not be the best of their twenty-odd albums released in America, but it's not bad either.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Whoomp! (There It Is)”

    Tag Team | 1993

    Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

    More Song Stories entries »