THis IS WHERE I BELONG The Songs Of Ray Davies & The Kinks (Rykodisc) Rating: NNN
Other Kinks tributes have been released, but This Is Where I Belong easily outclasses the other pretenders with inventive new arrangements of Ray Davies's tunes that -- believe it or not -- sometimes rival the originals. Impossible? Well, true enough, Jonathan Richman has no business messing with Stop Your Sobbing, and Ron Sexsmith's predictably mopey take on the title track is completely forgettable. But check Bebel Gilberto's samba-sweetened version of No Return, which Davies admits was written with her mom in mind -- pure genius. Josh Rouse springs to life for a novel spin on A Well-Respected Man, Tim O'Brien takes Muswell Hillbilly out to the country where it belongs, and Tommy Womack whips Picture Book into tip-top pop-hit shape. Ray ought to be chuffed.