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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Finally this hour, a reporter who usually brings us the latest from Broadway is going to get personal. Jeff Lunden does some performing of his own. He's in a classical music group called the Dessoff Choirs. Last month, the group was invited to back up a legendary rock star, Ray Davies of The Kinks.

Jeff Lunden had such a good time he had to tell us about it.

JEFF LUNDEN: I started singing in choirs when I was a kid; so did Ray Davies.

Mr. RAY DAVIES (Musician): I went to school in Muswell Hill. It was a Church of England school, and the headmaster was also the choirmaster in the local church, so it was obligatory. We rehearsed at school. I took to it because we'd get a few lessons off because we sang in the choir. We missed maths.

LUNDEN: And that is where the similarity ends. When I sing, I'm just one of dozens of voices in an amateur group. When he sings...

(Soundbite of song "You Really Got Me")

LUNDEN: ...he's the voice of one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s.

(Soundbite of song "You Really Got Me")

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) Girl, you really got me going. You got me so I don't know what I'm doing.

LUNDEN: So when my choir, which has sung classical music at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, got the call to sing classic Kinks songs with Ray Davies, I thought, wow.

(Soundbite of song "You Really Got Me")

DESSOFF CHOIRS and Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) You got me so I can't sleep at night. You really got me. You really got me. You really got me. Yeah.

LUNDEN: And let me tell you, it turned out to be a blast.

(Soundbite of song "You Really Got Me")

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) See, don't ever set me free. I always want to be by your side.

DESSOFF CHOIRS: (Singing) Oh, yeah, you really got me.

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) Yeah...

DESSOFF CHOIRS: (Singing) Yeah...

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) ...you really got me now.

DESSOFF CHOIRS: (Singing) ...got me now.

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) You got me so I can't sleep at night.

DESSOFF CHOIRS: (Singing) You really got me.

LUNDEN: We were singing arrangements from his new album called "The Kinks Choral Collection," which is a collaboration between Davies and the Crouch End Festival Chorus in London.

David Temple, who conducts that choir and conducted us, says Ray Davies came to hear his group sing a few years ago.

Mr. DAVID TEMPLE (Conductor, Crouch End Festival Chorus): We went to the pub afterwards, and he said, look, I've just been asked to do the Electric Proms for the BBC, and they say you have to have something different to what you normally do. So I've got this idea of having the choir there as well.

LUNDEN: It went so well they decided to record this album.

(Soundbite of song "The Village Green Preservation Society")

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) We are the Village Green Preservation Society.

LUNDEN: Which spans 45 years of Davies' career, including some of his hits and some of his lesser-known songs.

Mr. DAVIES: "The Village Green" was a little-known Kinks album. Well, it's very well-known among Kinks fans, but to the rest of the world, it's virtually unknown. It's a strange album I did about England, about a community, a community of kind of mystery and fantasy.

(Soundbite of song "The Village Green Preservation Society")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) We are the custard pie appreciation consortium.

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them.

LUNDEN: One of the most enjoyable arrangements to sing from that album - for me, anyway - was "Picture Book," which features some of Davies' most sardonic lyrics and where the chorus sings a lot of the band's instrumental licks and backup vocals.

(Soundbite of song "Picture Book")

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) Picture yourself when you're getting on, sat by the fireside a-pondering on.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Picture book.

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) Pictures of your mama taken by your papa a long time ago.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Picture book.

LUNDEN: When the choir I sing in performs classical music, we don't get audience feedback until the end of a piece, which can be at the end of a concert. But in Town Hall, in front of a thousand rabid Ray Davies fans who know every word of every song, we got feedback immediately.

Mr. DAVIES: Two of the moments in the show that I find really rewarding are the two times the choir and the audience sing together.

(Soundbite of song, "Waterloo Sunset")

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) Whenever I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise.

Big sha-la-la.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Sha-la-la.

LUNDEN: Perhaps the boldest choral arrangement on the album, and one of the most striking moments in concert, is The Kinks' 1965 single "See My Friends." There's no band, just a cappella chorus and Ray Davies.

(Soundbite of song, "See My Friends")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) See my friends, see my friends.

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) Laying across the river.

LUNDEN: Davies says for an old rocker, it's nice to revisit his old friends.

Mr. DAVIES: "See My Friends," for example, is a seemingly very simple pop record, but it's evolved into something. It's a relief that the songs have withstood the test of being transcribed and put into this context.

(Soundbite of song, "See My Friends")

Unidentified Group and Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) She is gone and now there's no one left 'cept my friends.

LUNDEN: For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden, still basking in my 15 minutes of rock fame.

(Soundbite of song, "See My Friends")

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) She is gone and now there's no one else to take her place.

NORRIS: And if you want to listen to a few more minutes of Ray Davies with the Dessoff Choirs, you can hear a live performance at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "See My Friends")

Mr. DAVIES: (Singing) ...love. Except my friends, playing across the river. See my friends.

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