To many, this live album is the one that incarnates The Kinks’ glory days during the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. It acted as a sort of story book in which the band – a true pioneer of “loud” genres such as punk and (up to a point) metal showed how they had helped define those genres, and how it was capable of blending in with current movements without really losing its touch, and without Ray Davies’ legendary eye becoming blurred at all. Thus, we have a version of “You Really Got Me” that is done in the vein of Van Halen, and a rendering of “Lola” that has a disco-inflected ending.
The contemporary album “Low Budget” is the one better-represented here. Many songs are extended both instrumentally and lyrically (the title track is one of the clearest examples, and “Wish I Could Fly Like Superman” is done as a straight up rock song – it loses the disco edge). “Pressure” is the one exception, with the song being abridged (and it was a short song to begin with). Just when you are becoming drawn to it, it finishes – but rather explosively, I must say. And “National Health” was one of the most played songs from the album here in Uruguay and in Argentina.
I don’t have to tell you that the remaining of the disc is made up of a smattering of old tunes. Hey, we are talking about Ray Davies here. He takes his nostalgia seriously. The band performs “Stop Your Sobbing”, “Where Have The Good Times Gone”, the ultra-popular “All Day And All Of The Night” and even “Till The End Of The Day”. That particular song receives a bizarre reggae treatment that is as disconcerting on subsequent listens as the first time around. And they also do “Victoria”, but the CD version is (sorrowfully) abridged.
The same happens with “Celluloid Heroes” and “Misfits”, but speaking of the latter I prefer this version to its studio counterpart – even if it misses a key section, the sound is less furnished on the whole and it truly reflects the sincerity that lies at the nucleus of the song.
I must tell you that the CD edition of the concert originally omitted one of the best tracks found on the two-LP album, “20th Century Man”. That was thankfully set to right in the Konk/Velvel reissue.
The lineup that recorded “One For The Road” comprised the brother Davies (Ray and Dave), long-standing (and suffering) drummer Mick Avory and bassist Jim Rodford. Keyboards were handled onstage and (in some cases added later on) by either Ian Gibbons or Nick Newell.
The band was a true live peak when this album first came out. Dave Davies in particular proved everybody what an underrated guitarist he was – his solos are intoxicating on “Wish I Could Fly Like Superman” and “Low Budget”, and the metallization of “You Really Got Me” a la Van Halen was something that not anybody could have replicated.
I think this album is the best way to get acquainted with this phase in the career of the band. Personally, I recommend it over the “Come Dancing with the Kinks: The Best of the Kinks 1977-1986” compilation because it showcases the dominant facet of those years (IE, The Kinks as stadium rockers) in the element where it all happened and captivated everybody.