KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

THE KINKS Part 1 – Thoughts On An Artist / Something Better Beginning

The Kinks Photo (circa 1964)There was a time during high school & college, back in the ‘80s, when I would have ranked The Kinks among my Top 10 favorite artists. This was the era of “Destroyer,” “Come Dancing,” “Do It Again” and numerous other FM radio hits that had them at the peak of their commercial powers, especially in the US. Until the release of the Low Budget album in 1979, though, I was completely unaware of The Kinks, even though they were rock ‘n roll legends and one of the few bands that challenged the Beatles for pop supremacy throughout the ‘60s. It took artists like Van Halen and The Pretenders covering “You Really Got Me” and “Stop Your Sobbing,” respectively, to help raise their profile after a number of lean years when the hits had dried up, and by 1979 they had revamped their sound to become one of the biggest arena rock bands of that era. Although I was focused on their more recent material back then, I also picked up the Greatest Hits LP that collected the best of their ‘60s recordings, and the 1980 live album, One For The Road, presented many other songs that preceded their late-‘70s comeback, giving me a decent overview of their career. It wasn’t until the late-‘80s that I finally collected the rest of their catalog on CD, from their 1964 debut through the records that preceded Low Budget. Several of their albums, especially the ones released between 1966 & 1970, are now regarded as classics, and although I’ve listened to them all many times, I don’t think I know any of them as well as I should.

Uncut Ultimate Music Guide - The KinksLast year I picked up the excellent Ultimate Music Guide on The Kinks from the publishers of UK magazine Uncut. Like a similar issue that focused on David Bowie, which was incredibly helpful when I wrote my series on his catalog, this magazine includes vintage articles & interviews from various British publications like Melody Maker and NME, as well as 2-page reviews of every album in their discography. I read it cover-to-cover last summer and it reminded me (a) how much I love The Kinks, (b) how long it’s been since I played their records on a regular basis and (c) how many of their songs I’ve forgotten. With the 50th anniversary of their debut album approaching, this seemed like the perfect time for me to revisit their catalog & reinvigorate my passion for their music.

When their recording career began in 1964, the band consisted of Ray Davies (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards & principal songwriter), his younger brother Dave Davies (lead guitar, backing & occasional lead vocals), Pete Quaife (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Mick Avory (drums & percussion). There would be a few lineup changes over the years, but this was the classic (and most beloved) lineup, and that core of the Davies brothers & Avory would stay together for more than 20 years. As with many British artists back then, their early discography is often difficult to tackle because of differences between UK & US releases, as well as a number of hits that only appeared on singles & EP’s. Since the UK versions have become the standards, I’ll focus on those while also mentioning the differences between them & the US releases (which are the versions I’ve owned the longest). Hopefully it won’t be too confusing. The bottom line is that they recorded a lot of excellent music right from the start of their career, and it’s worth the effort to learn how those songs were originally presented in the two countries where they had the most impact.

The Kinks - Kinks (1964)In the UK, their debut album was simply titled Kinks (1964), and in the US it was titled You Really Got Me after the hit single of the same name. Ray Davies, who was only 20 at the time, wrote 6 of the album’s 14 songs, with the remainder consisting of covers (including songs by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Slim Harpo & others) and a couple that were credited to their producer, Shel Talmy (both of which were filler material, and curiously included the word “bald” in their titles: “Bald Headed Woman” and “I’ve Been Driving On Bald Mountain”). For most of the album their sound isn’t terribly distinctive, owing a lot to The Beatles & The Rolling Stones, and at times they could be confused with many of their British Invasion contemporaries like The Animals, The Hollies, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Yardbirds, etc. Of course like most young pop & rock groups back then, record companies weren’t looking for anything unique; they just wanted something the kids would spend their money on, usually surrounding a couple of hit singles with a number of forgettable tracks. After giving Kinks a number of listens this past week, I think it has a lot more to offer than that even though only one of the songs was actually a hit. Of course, that hit is one of the defining records of that era; a song which many writers have credited as the birth of heavy metal &/or punk. But there’s plenty more to enjoy here.

The Essentials:

♪     “You Really Got Me” – An all-time rock & roll classic, with a unique fuzzy guitar tone & a perfectly loose arrangement. If this was the only song they recorded, they would still be legends. Years later Van Halen recorded their own version, which became a definitive hard rock track.

♪     “Just Can’t Go To Sleep” – Super catchy tune with creative drumming from Avory & strong backing vocals. I especially love the way they sing the title, which sounds like “every night I just can’t go-sleep.”

♪     “Cadillac” – A swinging version of the Bo Diddley song from a few years earlier. It’s a blast of fun, especially those “C-A-D-I-L-L-A-C” backing vocals.

♪     “Stop Your Sobbing” – Shows a lighter side to the group, and Ray’s voice is more unique than it is on the majority of the album. The bridge (“Each little tear that falls from your eye…”) is especially noteworthy, and showed that he had a special way with melodies. Fifteen years later The Pretenders would strike it big with their version, which might even surpass the original.

[The Kinks – “Just Can’t Go To Sleep”]

Other Notable Tracks:

  • “Beautiful Delilah” – Dave sings lead on their version of the Chuck Berry song. It sounds like dozens of other bands but the vocals (both lead & backing) are very strong, and Talmy did a great job with the production on this track which opened the album.
  • “So Mystifying” – A steady 4/4 rocker that’s a little generic, but I love the lead guitar flourishes.
  • “I Took My Baby Home” – Reminds me of the New Orleans classic “Fortune Teller,” famously covered by The Rolling Stones and The Who, among others. It really swings and has a great harmonica part.
  • “Too Much Monkey Business” – Another Chuck Berry song that was covered by many of their contemporaries. Dave’s lead guitar work is especially great, and this was probably a highlight of their live set.
  • “Got Love If You Want It” – Harmonica-driven blues tune originally by Slim Harpo, and the most American sounding recording on the album. I love the tom-tom heavy percussion.

The current CD version of Kinks features 12 additional tracks, most of which were only released as singles or EP’s. Three of them also appear on the You Really Got Me CD, while the others showed up on the next couple of American CD’s. While many CD reissues include bonus tracks that are only worthwhile to obsessive fans, a number of those included here are among the all-time great Kinks tracks.

The Essential Bonus Track:

♪     “All Day And All Of The Night” – Who cares if they were trying to re-write their first hit? This has a classic guitar riff, Ray’s unique voice & I love the backing vocals. This song is an example of power chords at their best, and Dave’s guitar solo is ragged perfection.

Other Notable Bonus Tracks:

  • “You Still Want Me” – The follow-up single to “You Really Got Me” which was a flop, but deserved a better fate. Could be Gerry & The Pacemakers or The Dave Clark 5. It’s super catchy & I love the bright chorus.
  • “I Gotta Go Now” – Jazzy drums & guitar work with a simple yet cool arrangement. There’s not a lot to the song but it has a great atmosphere and Ray’s vocals are very strong.
  • “I’ve Got That Feeling” – I like the syncopated, slightly Latin rhythm. Recommended for fans of Manfred Mann & The Zombies.

The Kinks - Kinda Kinks (UK)Their sophomore album, Kinda Kinks (1965), was rush recorded in-between world tours, and the band (especially Ray) was not pleased with the results. Shel Talmy once again oversaw production and made some choices that they weren’t happy with, notably the double-tracked vocals. I don’t think it sounds bad, but the hit-to-miss ratio is slightly lower than its predecessor. The US & UK versions each included the same 12 songs, although with different running orders. It’s not a classic by any definition, but there are enough great songs here to make this album a must-listen (especially when taking into account the numerous bonus tracks, which I’ll discuss below).

The Essentials:

♪     “Tired Of Waiting For You” – Another classic that showcases Ray’s early songwriting brilliance. I love the song’s simple yet effective structure: “I’m so tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you.” Again he’s showing some vulnerability, not typical for a rock singer.

♪     “So Long” – Not sure if they were influenced by Simon & Garfunkel, whose debut album was released the previous year, but there are similarities to that legendary duo in the folky fingerpicked guitar & subtly propulsive rhythm. It’s tender & lovely, with tight harmonies. A special song.

♪     “Nothin’ In The World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl” – The long title shouldn’t scare listeners away from this outstanding moody folk song, in the Bert Jansch vein. It’s slightly jazzy with pretty fingerpicked acoustic guitar.

♪     “Something Better Beginning” – I love the atmospheric, haunting guitar & Ray’s hushed vocals. It’s softer but still rockin’, and features a great chorus: “Is this the start of another heartbreaker, or something better beginning?”

[The Kinks – “Something Better Beginning”]

Other Notable Tracks:

  • “Don’t Ever Change” This is an interesting song, especially the vocal arrangement where Ray sings a lot of words in a short space during the verses. The nylon string guitar adds a nice texture.
  • “Come On Now” – A simple, short, fun little tune with an insistent rhythm & memorable guitar motif. I love the call-and-response at “It’s getting late & we better go.”
  • “You Shouldn’t Be Sad” – Begins with a staggered rhythm & guitar riff, a bit like The Beatles’ “Tell Me Why,” then morphs into a tight little rocker with more great call-and-response vocals & solid “aaah” backing vocals. Not a classic but catchy & enjoyable.

The Kinks Photo (Live, circa 1965)There are 11 bonus tracks on the UK version of Kinda Kinks. Of these, the first 10 appear on the US Kinks-Size Kinkdom CD, and there are enough great songs included to make either of these CDs an essential purchase. There are also a handful of tracks on Kinks-Size Kinkdom that appear on two later releases. Since I’ll be discussing those albums in my next post, I won’t include them in my discussion here.

The Essential Bonus Tracks:

♪     “Set Me Free” – One of many early Kinks classics. I especially love the way the off-kilter rhythm works in conjunction with the killer guitar riff, and it’s interesting how the words “set me free” are sung differently in the verses & choruses.

♪     “See My Friends” – The Kinks dabble in early psychedelia, with hints of Indian music in the drone-y vocals giving it a hypnotic vibe. Apparently written about Ray’s older sister, who died when he was a youngster. This one is certainly ahead of its time.

♪     “A Well Respected Man” – One of the earliest examples of Ray’s character portraits focusing on British society. A brilliant social/political commentary with biting lyrics (“And his mother goes to meetings, while his father pulls the maid…”), especially impressive considering Ray was only 21 when he wrote it.

 Other Notable Bonus Tracks:
  • “Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” – A blast of pure energy; bouncy & upbeat. I love the way he sings, “’Cause I-I-I-I-I know.” It was released as a single that just missed the UK Top 10.
  • “Who’ll Be The Next In Line” – The b-side of “Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” and every bit as good. There’s a great repeated 4-note riff, and Ray’s raw vocals are the perfect fit for the angry nature of the title question.
  • “Wait Till The Summer Comes Along” – As far as I can tell, this is the first Kinks song written & sung by Dave, and it’s a very good one. With elements of Bob Dylan & The Byrds (whose debut album was released around the same time), this is a folk-tinged rocker with strong vocals & guitar work.

The Kinks Photo (circa 1965)I probably could have mentioned a few other songs, since not every remaining track is forgettable filler, but the songs I’ve chosen to highlight above are the ones that stood out from the others, and are the most representative of the best The Kinks had to offer at the start of their career. They would begin adding new elements to their music & songwriting beginning with album #3 (which will be included in my next post), as they developed their own inimitable sound, but on these first two releases (and related singles & EP’s) they were still finding their way while simultaneously delivering a handful of the most noteworthy songs in rock & roll history.

I’m very excited about this series, and I look forward to hearing from other Kinks fans, many of whom will be much more knowledgeable about the band than I am. Feel free to share your thoughts on their music, let me know if you agree with the songs I’ve chosen to highlight, and talk about anything related to The Kinks in the Comments section. Thanks for joining me on this journey. It should be a lot of fun.

The Kinks - You Really Got MeThe Kinks - Kinda Kinks (US)The Kinks - Kinks-Size Kinkdom

Advertisements

42 comments on “THE KINKS Part 1 – Thoughts On An Artist / Something Better Beginning

  1. ianbalentine
    January 13, 2014

    Ah, The Kinks, I knew it! I’m glad you’re doing this band. My introduction echoes yours, with the live album, Destroyer (and Better Things from Give The People…, one of the best songs they ever did!) being the Gateways for me. My love has been rekindled via the wonderful deluxe reissue campaign, which for the most part has been an embarrassment of riches, aesthetically and aurally speaking. I started with Face To Face and just purchased the Muswell Hillbillies Deluxe Edition. I have a couple of amazing compilations that cover the early hits real well, but I think I may be missing out on the earlier album cuts. After this series I think I may have to re-invest.

    Like

    • Hi Ian. Happy to know that I’m not alone regarding my history with The Kinks’ music, and I look forward to comparing our favorites along the way. The most enlightening era should be the early- to mid-’70s. Those are the albums I’ve probably played the least. Thanks for being the first commenter in a series I’m extremely excited about.

      Like

  2. Craig
    January 13, 2014

    Yes!!! Really looking forward to the next few posts. The great stuff really lies beyond these first few albums. From Face to Face to Muswell Hillbillies I don’t think anyone made better music.

    Like

    • Hey Craig. Looking at the track listings of the upcoming albums, I know there’s some amazing music in my immediate future. There are plenty of songs, though, that I can’t recall by the titles and I’m really looking forward to getting reacquainted with them.

      Like

  3. 1537
    January 14, 2014

    Really enjoyed this Rich, thank you. I’ve never bothered to delve deeper than my parents’ singles & a big Greatest Hits, but I may well do now.

    Like

    • Glad you enjoyed this post, and I appreciate your comment. Hopefully you will check out more of their music, because they are one of the all-time great bands. For some reason, though, their mainstream profile has been relatively low over the last 20 years. It seems like only music geeks like us continue to be aware of how good they are. Hopefully they do something (like a reunion) for their 50th anniversary that will raise their profile.

      Like

  4. Jaap
    January 14, 2014

    This promises to be very interesting, I’ll certainly try to listen along. I’m only really familiar with their hits and Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), which is surely one of my favourite albums. I’ve had a hard time finding their other albums on vinyl for a reasonable price, but you’ve already convinced me to keep looking.

    Like

    • Thanks, Jaap. There’s going to be a lot of great music for me to revisit in their catalog, and it goes way beyond their hits. But even if the rest of their discography was crap, they’d still be legends for all the great hit singles they released from the ’60s through the ’80s. I’m surprised their albums are hard to find on vinyl. Certainly their ’80s albums like Give The People What They Want and Come Dancing should be readily available, although their ’60s & ’70s releases are probably more rare & fetch higher prices. I hope you find some at reasonable prices.

      Like

  5. 80smetalman
    January 14, 2014

    A very well written and detailed account of a band I should have listened to more. Well done Rich!

    Like

    • Thanks for the positive feedback. I really appreciate it. Please let me know if you end up checking out more of their music. It’s never too late to discover one of the best bands of all time.

      Like

  6. stephen1001
    January 14, 2014

    Excellent series choice!

    I’m only familiar with the 4 from the 1001: Face to face, Something else, Village Green & Arthur, but they’re 4 for 4 so far.

    They’re a bit like Supergrass, in the shadow of Oasis & Blur, but some might argue (I believe you included!) that they’re the best of the bunch. When people think 60s UK, it’s often the Beatles/Stones debate but The Kinks perhaps should be in that discussion as well.

    I’m particularly curious about their more recent output, I hadn’t realized they’d continued making music for so many decades.

    Like

    • Those 4 on the 1001 list are great, although I’ll have a lot more to say about them in the coming weeks as I get reacquainted with them. Sorry to hear that none of their later albums made the cut, but I guess the general consensus is that the mid-’60s until around 1970 was the peak of their creativity.

      Great point about them possibly being the Supergrass of their era (and yes, I was one of those who commented on your blog about how I prefer Supergrass to all of their contemporaries, even though I was a fan of most of those bands).

      Like

  7. mikeladano
    January 14, 2014

    Wow Rich, I am really enjoying the new format. At first I wasn’t sure if it would be less info-intensive but I see that is not the case!

    This is a band that I know very little about, outside of the “greatest hits”. I have friends however who know every nook and cranny of their catalogue — time to hear what I have been missing. I’m going to enjoy some of your embedded tracks now!

    Like

    • Thanks, Mike. I’m really glad you like the new format. The goal is to provide the same amount of information but with a more reader-friendly layout. With songs highlighted by bullet points instead of a continued narrative, I’m hoping it’ll take me less time to put together each post so I can spend more of my time actually listening to the music I’m writing about. I also think it’s easier to read, especially in a world of people with short attention spans (wait, what was I talking about?).

      Yep, The Kinks are one of those bands with many obsessive fans. I’m hoping to hear from some of them, since it’s always fun to get insight from people who know the music a lot better than I do. Hope you enjoy the tracks I’ve highlighted here, some obvious & some slightly lesser known.

      Like

      • mikeladano
        January 14, 2014

        I’m sorry I was distracted for a moment. What’s that about attention spans?

        I think you succeeded in making it more reader friendly. Visually it looks great. Fresh and exciting.

        Like

      • Again, I really appreciate the support & I’m so glad that you like the new look. Your format change (last year, right?) was a big inspiration for me. I knew WordPress had to offer more than just the basic layout I had been using, and I’m very happy with the theme I chose.

        Like

  8. Phillip Helbig
    January 17, 2014

    Good choice to cover the Kinks. I own nothing by them and am familiar with just the hits. I know it’s a matter of taste, but it would be nice if you could state your opinion on all artists you cover who are known by almost everyone for their hits but the rest of whose catalogue is obscure with regard to which camp they (mostly) fall into: 1) the hits are good; the rest is not; 2) the hits are good; the rest is substantially different, but just as good; 3) the hits are good, the rest is just as good, only more obscure.

    From my point of view, an example of 2) is Jethro Tull and an example of 3) is Iron Maiden (assuming “hits” and “obscure apply here; it’s mostly songs which are somewhat better known among fans and played somewhat more often as opposed to those which are not). It’s hard for me to find an example of 1) since if I notice an artist going in that direction, I probably won’t listen to the whole catalogue. However, the Beach Boys might tend somewhat in that direction and, with the caveat that half of their catalogue are hits, ABBA. Although it’s not a hits/no hits division, bands like King Crimson come to mind, where the first album or two are substantially different from what came later (in my case, I like the early stuff).

    Like

    • Phillip, to be honest it’s difficult for me to break down my series on different artists into those categories. As far as I’m concerned, every artist I’ve written about is worth exploring beyond the hits (or well-known songs), and the bulk of them cover lots of musical ground. You’ve probably noticed that the songs I choose to highlight with audio & YouTube clips tend to be slightly lesser-known songs, which should give you a good sense of whether they’re worth exploring. I always assume that anyone willing to give my blog a few minutes by reading a post most likely knows the “hits,” so it’s nice to expose a different side.

      Of my “Compilation Or Catalog?” artists, the answer to most of them is “somewhere in between.” Only The Commodores seem to be an artist where the compilation I own is sufficient. Everyone else is worth further exploration, even if it’s just a handful of key albums. I hope this is helpful.

      As for King Crimson, they’ve gone through so many lineups & musical styles that they’re almost like 3 or 4 different bands. I happen to love all of them, but I can understand why some fans only like one or two eras.

      Like

  9. Lanny
    January 19, 2014

    I was born in 1949….so I was there as a new teenager in 64 to witness the british invasion …the beatles were like aliens landing on planet earth, they blew everyone away…but it was the kinks that grab my attention – although a beatles fan the kinks were my number one….ray was like an OLDER BROTHER, as I was first born in a family of 4 brothers…their music hit home for me as they sang about common things I could relate too and still do at age 64….I loathe Rolling Stone Magazine for NEVER having the KINKS on their cover as a group….they suck….I thought for sure they would finally make the cover with the massive hit song COME DANCING….that never happen….rolling stone sucks…flashback, 1969 Im in my barrack in san diego, us navy…I had just bought VGPS album at the post exchange…I would play that album everyday and everyone could hear it….sailors would stop and ask who’s that, great music dude.

    Like

    • Hi Lanny. It’s great to hear from someone who was there from the start of The Kinks’ recording career. You obviously have a different perspective on their music than I do, but the important thing is that our lives were positively affected by their music. Did you continue being a fan through all the various eras of their career? I think they each offer something unique, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with all the albums again the next couple of months so I can get to know them better than I ever did.

      As for your opinion on Rolling Stone, I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t realize that The Kinks were never featured on the cover, but I’m not surprised because they were never controversial or cool enough for RS’s elitist staff. Of course, all that matter is that millions of fans love their music, although it seems to me that their profile (especially here in the US) should be much higher. I really hope the rumors of a reunion in 2014 come to fruition. That would help increase awareness of their vast catalog.

      By the way, thanks for your service to our country. It’s greatly appreciated.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

      Like

  10. Deke
    January 21, 2014

    Rich my introduction to the Kinks came on the two Van Halen covers(You Really Got Me & Where Have All The Good Times Gone) as Van Halen were the big North American band in the early to mid 80s at least when I attended High School.
    I also remember Come Dancing as a hit for them as well and a friend of mines who’s older brother had a live release of there’s from around that time as well.
    He would go on about how Ray & Dave would go after each other with fisticuffs and still play there shows/tour and me and my friend would laugh and say well at least Van Halen get along !!…
    Hahaha..how we were wrong on that one!!!
    Good piece on some Rock History!

    Like

    • Deke, I didn’t get into Van Halen until 1980 when “Women And Children First” was released. Of course, I immediately bought the first two albums & loved their version of “You Really Got Me,” but I was already a Kinks fan by then. When “Diver Down” (my least favorite VH album) came out, I enjoyed their take on “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” but they didn’t do anything unique with it.

      Not only did Ray & Dave go at it (on stage & off), but apparently there’s been occasional bad blood between Dave & Mick Avory. It even resulted in Mick only playing on a handful of songs on their third album, which I’ll probably mention in my next post.

      It’s funny how we all thought that the guys in VH were a tight band of brothers back then. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine anyone putting up with Dave or Eddie for any length of time.

      Like

  11. Deke
    January 21, 2014

    I guess doing party stimulants would help u tolerate anything!
    I’m like u Rich Halens W&CF was my first album purchase followed by Fair Warning than I went and bought the first two Halens. And by that time Diver Down was coming out and I was like ..what’s the deal with the cover songs???….
    But I thought there take on the Kinks tunes were good I’m sure the Kinks were happy with the royalty cheques from them…

    Like

    • Good point about the party stimulants, Deke. And an even better point regarding the royalties Ray Davies must have received for those VH cover versions.

      Nice to find another VH fan who discovered them via W&CF. Most of my friends claim to have liked them since the debut, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them have revised their personal history with them to seem like they were cutting edge. I’m actually glad I got into them in ’80, which allowed me to have two prior albums to discover AND have a brand new album (the amazing Diver Down) within a year. What a great time to be a fan.

      Like

  12. Deke
    January 21, 2014

    Actually Rich W&CF is my all time fav album of all time. My reason it was my introduction to them early 81. At the time it was Cheap Trick/Kiss who were both kinda going pop AcDc was there as well but for some reason W&CF just clicked with me just the live feel i was blown away by the rawness and the liveness of the songs plus Dave and Ed just took the album to a whole other level and when your 14 it can be very impressionable and yep it worked even 33 yrs later it still resonates with me.
    I was lucky to catch em live last yr and they played Romeos Delight,Cradle Will Rock and Everybody Wants Some….they could have played it all!!
    Hahaha….
    Sorry this has really Nuthin to do with the Kinks!…well kinda…

    Like

    • I’ve heard great things about the VH shows last year, and I’m still surprised at how much I liked the latest album. I didn’t think DLR could pull it off, but even though his voice isn’t what it used to be, you could still tell it was Diamond Dave. As for W&CF being your all-time favorite album, it’s a great choice. I remember reading an interview years ago where Alex said he hated the way the drums sounded on “Everybody Wants Some.” Apparently they sounded huge on the studio speakers, but came out much more muted in the final mix. I agree that the rawness & live feel made that album special, but it’s hard to top the debut, and Fair Warning is just so monstrous. Those two are probably my favorites (along with 5150, but we don’t need to talk about “Van Hagar”).

      No worries about our conversation veering off into other directions. That’s one of the fun parts of talking music with other passionate fans. Also, you ended you comment with “kinda,” which brings us back to The Kinks (as their sophomore album was called “Kinda Kinks”). And now we’re back where we started.

      Like

  13. thomasjford
    January 23, 2014

    It’s funny what your take on The Kinks is because of where you come from. I hail from England so we all mainly know the Kinks as that classic 60’s band. If you are slightly more initiated then you will know of their late 60’s/early 70’s albums, yet as you mention they didn’t hit big in the USA until the Come Dancing era. That’s one of the huge injustices of the world! The fact someone would think of the Kinks as a big stadium rock band is so alien to me!!

    Nice blog Rich!

    Like

    • Hi Tom. I think The Kinks were already popular in the US in the ’60s & early-’70s, but for my generation (born in ’66) they didn’t appear on our radar until their late-’70s arena rock makeover. I tend to think of their career in terms of distinct eras, and I like most of them. I have a feeling there are some people who dismiss their ’80s output, but there’s a lot of good music to be found there.

      Like

      • thomasjford
        January 23, 2014

        I can’t say I’ve ever delved too deep into their 80’s stuff, as I imagine it is a lot like many 60’s artists in that decade, poor production and drum machines etc! The 80’s made all of those guys sound awful!

        Like

      • I think you would be pleasantly surprised by some of the “arena rock” records they made between ’77 & ’83. I’ll be getting to those in a couple of weeks. From ’84 & through the rest of the ’80s they succumbed to some of the unfortunate production trends of the era…but Ray’s songwriting skills remained sharp, so there are always gems to be found on each record.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 23, 2014

        “The 80′s made all of those guys sound awful!”

        Yes, 80s production bit Rush, bit Jethro Tull, bit David Gilmour (Pink Floyd were largely dormant), bit Heart, bit almost anyone. However, Iron Maiden made many albums in the 1980s and they sound like early 1970s Wishbone Ash albums as far as the recording goes. This is probably due to Martin Birch, but it shows that one didn’t have to drink the Kool-Aid. (Of course, Wishbone Ash (I’ll be seeing the current incarnation on 11 February—still a hard-working band) with their twin guitars were a big influence on Iron Maiden.

        Like

      • Some artists were forced by their record companies to adapt to the new sonic universe of the ’80s, but a band like Rush actively embraced the technology of the time while still writing excellent songs & showcasing their brilliant musicianship. As for David Gilmour, his “About Face” album (his only solo release of the ’80s) has a couple of nods to then-current production techniques, but that album is an absolute classic to my ears, and doesn’t sound dated.

        Which incarnation of Wishbone Ash are you seeing? Aren’t there two versions currently touring?

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 24, 2014

        “Which incarnation of Wishbone Ash are you seeing? Aren’t there two versions currently touring?”

        The one with Andy Powell. They always play at a local club around this time of year. Andy was one of the original guitarists. Original bassist Martin Turner was touring as “Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash” until recently, but apparently some court case now forbids him from doing so. I read somewhere that all (original) members retained rights to the name, sort of like Barclay James Harvest, but apparently that has changed (if it were really ever true).

        I’ve seen the current Andy Powell line-up about 3 times, in the last 3 years, the Martin Turner one once a couple of years ago, at a slightly smaller club. I actually think that both formations put in an excellent show. Martin’s was more rooted in the past but, hey, playing all of Argus at a concert is fine with me.

        The Turner lineup had a great Spinal-Tap (or, perhaps, Anvil) moment. It was a small club, they were driving their own van etc. The club had a dry-ice machine on stage and someone from the club was operating it remotely. Worked fine. On one song, one of the guitarists had lead vocals, while normally Martin did, so things weren’t coordinated. He was normally farther back on the stage, but obviously had to step up to the mic to sing. Just as he did so, a huge puff of dry-ice smoke discombobulated him and he broke off, coughing, which was soon mixed with laughter from everyone, including him. Martin stepped up to the mic and deadpanned “Whoever is responsible for the Auspuff [German for car exhaust]: watch it!”. They then started the song again.

        Like

      • That’s a great anecdote about the Spinal Tap/Anvil moment they experienced. When you’re a touring musician you certainly need a sense of humo(u)r. I’m far from an expert on Wishbone Ash. I only own Argus, Live Dates, Locked In and the 2-CD Time Was anthology. Those guys are seriously undervalued. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them on the radio, but at least a handful of their songs should be in regular rotation along with those from better known groups. Maybe it’s because they’re hard to categorize, straddling the lines of heavy, melodic & prog rock.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 24, 2014

        “a band like Rush actively embraced the technology of the time while still writing excellent songs & showcasing their brilliant musicianship”

        Did you see the Clockwork Angels show? It highlighted their 80s output. Not the best set list from my point of view, but otherwise an excellent show, and probably the best on-stage screens (really high-def) I have ever seen. I think there is a DVD of it.

        Like

      • I didn’t see the tour but I own the Blu-ray and I thought the set was fantastic. They’ve done so many tours in recent years where they’ve focused on their classic ’70s & early-’80s work. It was nice to have a mix of ’80s & ’90s along with songs from Clockwork Angels, which I think is great.

        Like

  14. Alan K.
    January 23, 2014

    Rich –
    (I thought I had left a post on this ?? but I must not have done it right so I will re-post):
    1. I am so glad you are examining the recordings of The Kinks. I know their hits, but I have always felt that I’d appreciate their music even more if I knew more about them, their lesser known stuff, etc. So I look forward to your insights.
    2. I think “Something Better Beginning” is as good as ANY ballad from the “British Invasion” era/genre. I think it should be covered more. You wrote about the “the atmospheric, haunting guitar & Ray’s hushed vocals” – so well-described. and spot on!

    Like

    • Hi Alan. I always thought you were a big Kinks fan, or at least someone who enjoyed more than their most well-known songs. I hope you find some great new tunes to check out throughout this series.

      I’m so glad you agree with me about “Something Better Beginning.” It’s one of those songs that I always enjoyed but often forgot about. After playing it a number of times prior to writing this post, it’s definitely become a permanent favorite.

      I always appreciate your feedback & supportive words. Thanks again.

      Like

  15. mark trafford
    January 31, 2014

    Thanks for posting,i knew the classic Kinks but really got into the kinks from the 1980 live album,destroyer and low budget..the live album is still my most played kinks and I have everything they did,together and solo…lol..for many its a period that is really unappreciated but Ray wrote some wonderful satiric music thru that period..the title to Give the people what they want is a perfect example of ray being an under regarded social critic..lol..I so wanted to reference Young conservatives on my politics final..lol..still my fav band and the best I have ever seen..its funny but Rush used to play my hometown bars when I was a kid before they got huge and while they are brilliant,no one can match the davies boys for writing and daves guitar..i always loved the live You really got me on the 80 album..it seemed to be saying,”really Eddie”??..all the best,mark. http://www.marktrafford.com

    Like

    • Hi Mark. Thanks so much for stopping by & sharing your history with The Kinks. Sounds like we had similar introductions to their music via the late-’70s & early-’80s “arena rock” years. Those are probably the albums I know the best, so it’ll be fun to approach them from an analytical point of view in a few weeks when I get to that portion of their catalog. I always loved the “One For The Road” live album, and I imagine it’s held up pretty well. Good point about the version of “You Really Got Me” from that record. They were obviously making the song theirs again, and taking it back from Van Halen. I’m still not sure if I prefer the original “Stop Your Sobbing” over The Pretenders’ cover, though.

      Nice to see that you’re a working voice actor. I took a voice-over course about 12 years ago & I’ve done a few low-key gigs, but it’s not something I’ve ever considered doing for a living. Way too competitive.

      I hope you’ll visit again as I proceed through this series. You have a great perspective on their music & Ray’s songwriting.

      Best….
      Rich

      Like

  16. Pingback: THE KINKS Part 7 – Better Things Are On The Way | KamerTunesBlog

  17. Pingback: KamerTunesBlog Year In Review 2014 | KamerTunesBlog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to KamerTunesBlog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 310 other followers

Archives

%d bloggers like this: