""Think Visual" badly needs to be remastered. It came out right at the beginning of the CD era, when most discs sounded sterile, thin, and hissy, and "TV" does not buck this trend. I'm looking forward to an eventual remastered version that will bring the music to life.
This is definitely not a high point for the Kinks, and casual fans probably shouldn't bother. But if you're into the band, "Think Visual" has lots going for it. Ray's tracks are world-weary but spirited, with the standouts being "Lost and Found," "Repetition," "Killing Time," and the beautiful, synth-drenched "How are You?". Dave's two contributions continue his winning streak from "Word of Mouth."
Unfortunately, "Natural Gift," "The Video Shop," and the title track show up to spoil the fun. These clumsy attempts at updating the Kinks' sound just come off as corny and dated today (like the embarrassing cover art, which somehow manages to out-ugly the notoriously hideous "Word of Mouth" cover). Ironically, "Think Visual" appears in a drastically reworked live version on the "Live: The Road" album and sounds incredible. Why couldn't the band capture that energy in the studio?
"Think Visual" captures the Kinks at an awkward stage, seemingly unsure of whether it was time to mellow out, keep rocking, or try to modernize their sound. So the album is a grab bag of all those approaches. It's not a forgotten masterpiece by any stretch-- there's as much filler as good material, and nothing here except maybe "Lost and Found" is a true classic. But if you like the Kinks and can find it for a few dollars, "Think Visual" is worth checking out."
Rethinking the past...
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 04/14/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Think Visual (the title lend itself to numerous bad puns criticizing the album)is, inretorspect, a fine Kinks album with a handful of good songs. Clearly Ray and Dave were rooting about for a new direction to make the band relevant in the late 80's. So how did they do? It's a bit of a wash with the outstanding songs (Working, When You Were a Child and, yes, even Dave's travelogue Rock 'n' Roll Cities)pulling the rest of the album up by its bootstraps. The performances are, as always, top notch. It's clear in retrospect that TV was a transitional album for the band. While not up to snuff when compared to State of Confusion, Word of Mouth, Low Budget or Give the People What they Want, it's clear that the Davies brothers were attempting to catch their breath in a more competitive, changing rock music world. Definitely worth picking up for the few strong tracks included on this disc, Think Visual pools some of the greatest talent of the 60's 70's and early 80's and creates a puddle teeming with life. Honestly compared to their only notable contemporaries that were still on the road (you know who), this album was at least brimming with the honesty and heartfelt emotion typical of the two D's.Phobia would show the band picking up speed after stumbling here. Worth giving a spin for true Kinks fans but probably not the best place to start collecting the band's considerable output."
A seriously underrated Kinks offering
Dave | United States | 01/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Released in late 1986, "Think Visual" is the first album the Kinks did for MCA Records. Arista Records seemingly sensed that the Kinks period of commercial renaissance was over following the dropoff in sales of 1984's "Word Of Mouth". Indeed, the sales dropoff continued with "Think Visual", but don't let that fool you. "Think Visual" is an engaging, spirited rock record that no Kinks fan should be without.
Ray Davies does continue to mine very familiar lyrical territory throughout the album. He attacks the record industry on "Working At The Factory", sends up big business corporations on the title track, comments on getting stuck in a day-to-day rut on "Repetition", and looks back on the 'good old days' on "Welcome To Sleazy Town". "Lost and Found" is one of those spiritually-minded Ray songs where an incident that initially seems like a tragedy serves the over-arching purpose of heightening one's perception and appreciation of life. Granted, a lot of the lyrics do seem a little weak and formulaic, but it's often to amusing effect that's fun and isn't embarassing, and Ray shows he definitely has his sense of humor working for him on the highly amusing "The Video Shop".
Quality songs abound. The irresistible, uptempo title track links together several extremely catchy bits in its 3:12 running time, containing riffy lead guitar work from Dave Davies, plus a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss-it musical hall-flavored sections. "Lost and Found" is an uplifting feel-good ballad--it's a little overly slick, but still nicely atmospheric. "Welcome To Sleazy Town" is an excellent bluesy detour. The horn-powered, reggae/ ska-styled "The Video Shop" is infectious and perfectly suits the humorous lyrics. The wistful Dave Davies-penned album-closer "When You Were A Child" is a moving, wonderfully tuneful uptempo pop-rocker. The album-opening rocker "Working At The Factory" and the swinging "Repetition are fine tracks as well. Quite frankly, there really aren't any weak tracks on the entire disc.
Like with previous Kinks albums, there are moments here that give you an inescapable "where have I heard that before?" feeling. The back-and-forth between 'F' and 'G' chords on "How Are You" instantly recalls "Tired Of Waiting For You". The chorus of "Welcome To Sleazy Town" features a guitar riff that sounds like it was beamed in straight from Genesis' "Misunderstanding" (which itself sounds extremely similar to Sly & the Family Stone's "Hot Fun In the Summertime"). The title track sounds extremely similar to the Kinks' own "Definite Maybe" (from the "State of Confusion" album), with some of the riffing being copied note-for-note. And don't even get me started on "Natural Gift"...
In short, "Think Visual" is a highly worthwhile and underrated album from one of the most appealing bands in history. If you see this CD in a used bin for a few bucks in solid condition, it's a great deal."
A Minor But Worthwhile Addition to the Kinks' Canon
Todd and In Charge | Miami, FL | 10/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is not from the Kinks' best period: Having just switched labels from RCA to MCA, the Kinks sputtered with Think Visual, notching their first disappointment from their video-era third act. In retrospect, however, the songs have aged nicely: "Lost and Found" is a Ray Davies classic ballad, emotional and powerful, recalling Waterloo Sunset and other of his great three-minute dramas. "Video Shop" was at the time cutting edge, a look at the rise of video stores amid the squalor of big-city industrial decay. In hindsight, it comes off as another Ray Davies look at a now-dead but once-bright technological invention, an updated "Steam-Powered Trains" for the 80s. "Think Visual" finds Ray biting the hands that feed him (as usual), turning the rise of MTV into a scathing indictment of commercialism and superficiality in modern music. In sum, this one is worth a second look, a minor though worthwhile addition to the Konkers' catalogue."
Consistent, with a pop touch
Phil (San Diego, CA) | San Diego, CA | 10/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'd been meaning to get this CD for years, ever since I saw the Kinks give a fantastic performance on a tour that featured a number of these songs. While I don't have the Kinks' entire catalog, this one is more adventurous than "Low Budget". I'm surprised at the distaste that some Kinks fans have for this. I'm guessing that this album is less likely to appeal to fans looking for the arena rock of "Destroyer" or "Do It Again".Sure, this collection of songs has a lighter groove to it; nothing wrong with that. Which is not to say that this is an album of ballads, not by any stretch. Although the lead single, "Working at the Factory" never particularly tripped my trigger, "Welcome to Sleazytown" in particular is a must-have. "Lost and Found" is a classic, just listen to song samples online. "How Are You", ditto. "Video Shop" is a light, fun narrative that doesn't try to make any big statements about the human condition.The title track should have been the single released in the wake of "Come Dancing". Unfortunately, that honor fell to "Rock and Roll Cities", quite possibly the worst song in the Kinks' catalog. Still, I like this album a lot. It's no wonder that half this album makes up the MCA years compilation "Lost and Found".The criticisms remind me a lot of how critics greeted a good album like the Stones' "It's Only Rock n Roll". They rode the band hard for not putting out another "Exile On Main Street", but the band had changed gears on them. At the price this CD is going for, it's a bargain."