When Nirvana released their b-side collection Incesticide in 1992, I clearly remember my reasons for not rushing out to buy it. One reason was that I had already acquired two-thirds of the songs from various import singles and EPs. The other reason was that I wanted to give myself some Nirvana music to look forward to in the future. A decision that came in handy when their short tenure abruptly ended in 1994.
The film stars character actor Kenneth “Admiral Piett” Colley as a typical business man who catches a train for what seems like an everyday commute. We catch a glimpse of his droll morning routine and his loveless marriage. We see him stroll over to Waterloo Train Station, and pick up a newspaper. We then catch a closer glimpse of the paper and see that the front page has a composite sketch of a suspected serial rapist that looks exactly like Colley.
Cutting through the abundance of ideas, however, is an extremely effective performance from Colley, and a surprisingly fresh set of songs from Davies. Colley doesn’t have a single word of dialogue in the entire movie, but through a series 100 yard stares, he sucks you into his melancholic and twisted world. Colley’s supporting cast go all in on Davies’ songs, especially a young Tim Roth who sells the shit out of his parts. The soundtrack is credited to Davies, who handles all the vocals on record, but in the movie, the actors take on a fair share of vocals, and I would love to see this out-of-print soundtrack reissued with the movie versions of the songs.
The biggest downside to Return to Waterloo is the dated 80’s production that riddles the project. It’s hard enough for some folks to get behind the rock musical genre in the first place, but when the songs are weighed down by outdated synth tracks and reverby drum machines, it doesn’t help the cause. If you couldn’t tell by now, I have a pretty high threshold for camp and novelty items, but this set of songs is worth picking over for most Kinks fans.
The Title track, Return To Waterloo, is vintage Davies (now with synthesizers!) weighing everyday monotony and universal and societal woes set to a damn catchy melody and slightly ominous pitch bender.
Not Far Away is a pretty great song, but any intended gnarl is immediately watered down by too much reverb and the Steve Nieve-lite keyboard part. Can I get some more Tim Roth in the monitors?