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3.7 out of 5 stars20
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 28 September 2009
I bought this of Amazon to read on my holidays in Corfu. I had a number of books to plough through on the beach, but this was top of the pile and I couldn't wait to get at it. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I'd read the reviews which clarified nothing and after reading the book I still don't understand what Ray Davies was trying to achieve.
It's so obviously auto-biographical but written about some-one else. Ray tries to shock in parts, but this becomes nothing more than saucy postcard stuff and typical of the whole plot. Uninteresting, dull, pointless - I was so relieved when the final page appeared.
I love the Kinks, and I have Ray's narrative album, Storyteller, which is excellent in parts - but sometimes an artist pushes out into the wrong direction. Ray is a great songwriter, one of the best ever, but an author he ain't. Sorry Ray, two stars..
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on 17 December 2010
One would never expect Ray Davies to write a straightforward account of his life. After all, he has given us musical delights over the years which place subtlety ahead of the blatantly obvious and this approach continues in 'X-Ray'. Despite his manipulation of the autobiographical form, he is still candid and honest, although to what degree one can never be sure and that only adds to the enjoyment of this thoroughly gripping tome. I wish he would write a sequel, as this one ends in the early '70s and, despite what some may believe, The Kinks and Ray had much to offer well beyond that period. I would recommend anyone who reads this to follow it with Dave Davies' autobiography, which is more traditional in its style but heartfelt and equally essential. Between the two brothers' accounts the whole truth may be found...
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I originally bought 'X-Ray' in hardback when it was first published - I even saw Ray read extracts from it in a bookshop in Muswell Hill, a few hundred yards from where his family used to live. Ray autographed my copy, but when I got it home and tried to read it, I found that Ray had penned it as if it was being narrated by an unnamed third person, who is employed by an unnamed, Orwellian type 'Corporation' that seeks to surreptitiously 'own' Ray Davies. Anyway, I should have stuck with it, because the bits where Davies speaks in the first person are illuminating and interesting, and veer from the very precise and detailed through to the sketchy. Ray's overview of where The Kinks stood in he great 60's Brit Rock pantheon - alongside The Beatles, Stones and The Who - is especially revealing. Back in the day, The Kinks released a 'B' side called 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else', which certainly informs much of Davies' 'outsider' status. The well-publicised spats and sibling rivalry with brother Dave is surprisingly not featured heavily, but his marital breakdown with first wife Rasa is. Also, the numerous bad business deals and litigation, and the painful effect of same on Davies is well-documented in 'X-Ray'; also, his descriptions of the breakneck pace of The Kinks commercial breakthrough in '64 with 'You Really Got Me', both in the UK and abroad, is vividly recalled, as well as the complexities of his family upbringing. Having read this, and the following 'Waterloo Sunset', it's arguable whether Ray comes across as likeable as his brother Dave did in 'Kink', but, to steal the title of one of his songs, he's 'One of the Survivors', and for his music, I for one am glad, and glad that this book exists. Buy, but with a little caution.
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on 17 February 2011
I bought this book hoping to learn a little more about Ray Davies, I can't say that I learnt much. Ray Davies has an odd way of writing. He jumps from one point of view to another and at times I began to lose the will to try and keep up with him. To be fair I didn't finish the book, it was just too much of a chore. Why he chose to cloak himself in different persona I have no idea. It didn't work for me and from the reviews others thought the same. I really wanted to know mor about Ray but it was not to be.
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on 23 January 2012
Ray Davies's decision to write an autobiography seems a peculiar one when it is almost immediately apparent that he just wants to confuse the issue. Which issue? Every issue. The title itself is an enigma.

It's typical of his sense of humour that he's called this an `Unauthorized Autobiography', suggesting the following:

1. An acknowledgement that there can be no completely accurate version of events, as everything is subjective; if even his version is not authorized or authoritative, what hope is there for anyone else's attempt?
2. That the book has not been authorized by the powers that be, the mysterious `them' (the people in grey), referred to so often in the text.
3. That he is poking fun at the biography industry itself and perhaps other unauthorized biographies of the Kinks.
4. That he recognizes that he isn't always entirely honest. Or, at least, that there might be some truth in the book but probably not the whole truth. It's certainly not a straightforward read but we would expect nothing less or more of Ray. Or
5. He's simply playing with the words because he can.

The main title, X-Ray, is also open to interpretation:

1. It implies something that he mentions more than once in the book - that he is no longer the Ray from these stories, that that is an ex-Ray, inevitably changed and alien to the Ray now speaking. After all, `the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there'.
2. It gives the impression that he is going beneath the surface of the story, under the skin, like an X-ray, to reveal what is usually hidden. He brings this to the fore again in the final few pages when he has an X-ray of his back fall out of a folder. The problem with this approach is that it sometimes wilfully ignores what is on the surface. I don't this is a deliberate obfuscation. I think it's how Ray's mind works.

This is part of a longer review that I couldn't fit in here. Please search 'X-Raying X-Ray Davies' if interested.
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on 20 January 2013
I read x-ray after reading Pete Townshends epic tedium. Being a fan of the Kinks I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that Ray Davies is an interesting writer, not just a reguritator of boring facts a la Townshend. Davies had a clear recollection of the early days and its subsequent pandamonium. Quirky tale full of character and characters.
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on 7 June 2013
Told in the third person, but an autobiography nevertheless. he opened this up and read from it last year in his Nottingham concert - couldn't get any stranger than that. A bit of a tiring read.
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on 8 March 2000
Ray Davies leader of the most influential group of the 20th century uses this autobiography to give the reader an insight into life in the `swinging 60s' and early 70s and outlines the history of the kinks. The book describes the controversy surrrounding the Kinks and is particularly interesting to fansas `RD' describes what he was thinking when he wrote the songs and how he reacted to the successes and failure of the music industry. Non-Kinks fans who enjoy thrillers will find the pshychological element particularly stimulating. A great book.
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on 6 April 2014
Ray Davies is a true original. Honest, direct in his songs and in his life. Still doing it. The man is a legend.
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on 5 November 2015
Print is way too small. Could not get into the book at all even with my glasses on a full lighting.
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