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    The Kinks

  • Ray Davies

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    The Kinks

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    The Kinks 6 ( 1964 )
    Beautiful Delilah / So Mystifying / *Just Can't Go To Sleep / Long Tall Shorty / I Took My Baby Home / I'm A Lover Not A Fighter / *You Really Got Me / Cadillac / Bald Headed Woman / Revenge / Too Much Monkey Business / I've Been Driving On Bald Mountain / Stop Your Sobbin / Got Love If You Want It

    London had to respond to merseybeat sometime, so along come The Kinks. Two brothers, Ray And Dave. A template set by The Beatles and dozens of managers and record company type people at the time - play songs people know. So, a half dozen or so songs here are cover versions. Ray Davies own songs are better in every single respect. We start with a cover and it is barely competent at all. The second song is a Ray Davies original and, although rooted in blues, rhythm and blues - still contains a bunch more energy and excitement than the groups lack-lustre cover of 'Beautiful Delilah'. Other early Ray Davies signs of genius include 'Just Can't Go To Sleep', easily the equal of Beatle songs penned during the time. Then, however, we get 'Long Tall Shorty'. In a word, it's crap. We get other covers, 'I'm A Lover Not A Fighter', 'Cadillac', 'Bald Headed Woman', 'Too Much Monkey Business', 'I've Been Driving On Bald Mountain' and 'Got Love If You Want It'. None of them amount to anything at all, and if this was all The Kinks had to offer I wouldn't be writing this page and nobody would remember them to this day, at all. But of course, that's not all they had to offer. Oh, but of course not!

    The key moment on this Kinks Kinky debut arrives Kourtesy of their 'You Really Got Me'. Suddenly, everything else here pales in comparison. Such energy, energy that has meant this song has not only stood the test of time but been credited with inventing heavy metal. That isn't strictly true. Nobody other than Black Sabbath invented heavy metal, because they were the first to introduce Satan into hard rock and blues music. That was the ingredient missing from previous music. So, yes. Black Sabbath invented heavy metal. The Kinks just invented The Who and a kick-ass guitar sound. Along with 'You Really Got Me', the other song here that shows, even at this early stage, that Ray Davies was a great writer, is 'Stop Your Sobbing'. Many years later, a group called The Pretenders would take the song very high in the charts. It's a gorgeous song, plain and simple. Cover versions? Fuck them up the arse!

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    Kinks-Size ( 1965 )
    *Tired Of Waiting For You / Louie, Louie / I've Got That Feeling / Revenge / I Gotta Move / Things Are Getting Better / I Gotta Go Now / I'm A Lover Not A Fighter / Come On Now / *All Day And All Of The Night

    The U.S. Arm of whomever was the US people responsible for releasing Kinks albums in the united states released this. Overall, four Kinks albums were released during 1965. That is on a par with only the like of The Beach Boys for a band being over-worked and over-stretched. Of course, look into history and you'll see that The Beatles had unparalled access to recording studio's. Access that other bands could only dream of. This is fact. The Kinks could record a single, with full access and money, etc, etc. The Beatles got that for whatever they recorded. So, let's see what is on this bastard US Kinks album release, shall we? Well, two fantastic, almighty singles. These bookend the release. 'Tired Of Waiting For You' showed a more delicate side to The Kinks, a wistful, romantic side. 'All Day And All Of The Night' was furious, biting, aggressive - easily the match of their world-wide number one hit, 'You Really Got Me'. The Kinks were suddenly known for a sound, but Ray Davies certainly had other ideas.

    Elsewhere here, we get a bunch of out-takes, b-sides, etc, etc - from The Kinks debut LP recording sessions. Absolutely nothing to raise anybodies eyebrows at all, but this was The Kinks. This was an album, never meant to be - butchered and assembled with little thought, by the US arm of The Kinks record company. What even is this? Bar the opening and closing songs, this is re-cycle city. Yes, sir. But, the Kinks deserved far better.

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    Kinda Kinks ( 1965 )
    Look For Me Baby / Got My Feet On The Ground / Nothin In The World Can Stop Me Worryin Bout That Girl / Naggin Woman / Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight / *Tired Of Waiting For You / Dancing In The Street / Don't Ever Change / Come On Now / So Long / You Shouldn't Be Sad / *Something Better Beginning

    The Kinks 'enjoyed' three whole days to record this one. Suddenly, cover versions were not wanted, things had changed thanks to lennon/mccartney. So, Ray Davies arrives in the studio and is told to pen an entire albums worth of songs, with next to no notice at all. Hey, no problem. Right.... Well, he rose to the challenge, he had songs coming out of his pores, if you know what I mean. Some of these songs are rough and ready, but then? Ask Paul McCartney to come up with a bunch of songs at such short notice and you get 'Wild Life' by Wings, so don't blame Ray, or The Kinks, for the fact this album isn't the best in the world ever. Anyway, the start to the album passes by friendly enough. Energy, guitars, rawness. The then established sound of The Kinks, garage rock, 'louie louie', more of which later. 'Nothing Can Stop Me Worrying Bout That Girl' quietened things, more subtle. 'Tired Of Waiting For You' was released as the follow-up single to 'All Day And All Of The Night' and 'You Really Got Me'. An equally as nagging and addictive riff, but placed within a quiet, reflective song. A sudden change that revealed that yes, these Kinks fellows really did have something to offer after all.

    The main cover version here is 'Dancing In The Street'. It's never been a good song. The original isn't good, the 80's Jagger/Bowie version is, quite frankly, crap. The Kinks version is respectable, decent - but doesn't disguise the fact that this is a clumsy, dog of a song. Better, is the song that follows. Sweet melodies, chiming, 'Don't Ever Change', it's nice. 'Come On Now' plugs The Kinks back into their rawness, rock and roll, guitar sound. Dave Davies with his grittier vocals. 'So Long', all jaunty and acoustic guitar. The closing 'Something Better Beginning' with a wistful chime to the feel of the song. A relaxed, nice feel. A nice song. Ray was getting better, all things told. 'Kinda Kinks', recorded and written ( pretty much ) in a full three days only - was The Kinks second transmission. Not much had changed to alter the publics perception of them, but give the guy a little time, right?

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    Kinks Kontroversy ( 1965 )
    *Milk Cow Blues / *Ring The Bells / Gotta Get The First Plane Home / When I See That Girl Of Mine / I Am Free / *Til The End Of The Day / The World Keeps Going Round / I'm On An Island / *Where Have All The Good Times Gone / It's Too Late / What's In Store For Me / You Can't Win

    The groups best ever cover version opens the show, a time for Dave, not Ray, to shine. Furious guitar work, a growled and raw vocal full of the very essence of rock n roll. A stupendous performance all round and a Kinks highlight to this very day. Ray shares the vocals with Dave, in places - and all is very well indeed. Ah, a full seven days to record this album, oooh, luxury! In contrast, The Beatles 'Rubber Soul' was recorded in a month, and they thought they were rushed?? You can't even compare. A month to record an album in 1965? Brian Wilson couldn't even get recording time when he wanted. The Kinks had to record an album in a week, then, a full four days longer than they'd previously had to record an album in, which reflects the quality increase this album displays. The Beatles were rushed to record in a month? With three song-writers compared to The Kinks one? Well, Dave had ideas - but he'd not fully flourish until later. If this all sounds like an anti-beatles tirade, then you are mistaken. I just want people to understand how it was The Beatles were able to consistently make better records than everybody else in The Sixties. It wasn't JUST because they were great songwriters. Ray Davies was also a great song-writer. The disparity in the quality of The Kinks singles, where a whole day would be given over to recording the one song, compared to recording an albums worth of songs in a mere matter of days, was always going to be noticed. Thus, many of The Kinks best songs were a-sides and b-sides that never even appeared on any album proper.

    'Gotta Get The First Plane Home' is raw as can be, rough but manages to be very ready thanks to The Kinks way with a simple, addictive guitar riff. 'I Am Free' is beautifully sung by Dave, 'Ring The Bells' a lovely semi-acoustic song courtesy of Ray. 'Til The End Of The Day' is a song akin to 'All Day And All Of The Night' and 'You Really Got Me'. Cut from the same, aggressive guitar sound, cloth. 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone', released damn as near it to the ultimate peak of UK pop music? 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone'? People were happy! So, The Kinks release something, an all-time classic song, no question, so terribly out of the fashion of the times, it must have been seen to be ridiculous. Well, ridiculous were it not such a damn great song that fashion didn't matter. The Kinks? Never, ever, dedicated followers of fashion!

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    john, county kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Stumbled across this particular review by accident. In general, Adrian has made a few strong points particularly about recording time/production, and how it tended to work against The Kinks who not surprisingly at this stage were very much a singles band, but this was their first noticable studio album. "Ring The Bells" and "I'm On An Island" are especially impressive. At this stage very few people would've taken a Kinks' studio album seriously, but this was thankfully about to change. 7.5/10.

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    Kinks Kinkdom ( 1965 )
    *A Well Respected Man / Such A Shame / Wait Till The Summer Comes Along/ Naggin' Woman/ Never Met A Girl Like You Before / *See My Friends / Who'll Be The Next In Line / Don't You Fret / *I Need You / It's Alright / Louie Louie

    An odds and sods album created for the American market. Tracks drawn from all era's of Kinks rekording sessions so far, etc, etc. The kind of thing Captiol rekords did with alarming effect to The Beatles catalogue and Decca to The Rolling Stones catalogue. Release more albums than the band have actually produced! Still, good songs, tho. The opening 'A Well Respected Man', recorded as a single, moves The Kinks forwards. It sounds very British and very distinctive. The Kinks suddenly no longer need to rely on 'Louie Louie' and their more base influences, although the record company see fit to include their lack-lustre cover of 'Louie Louie' on this album anyway. 'Such A Shame' is a neat little song. One thing about Kinks songs of this era. Three seconds of the introduction of whatever Kinks song it happens to be can elapse, and you instantly know what song it is. Only The Beatles, perhaps, had such instantly recognizable song introductions. The dave sung 'Wait Till The Summer Comes Along' is a nice diversion, more Dave songs would have been welcome in Kinks history, provided they were upto scratch, of course. His songs actually released were controlled by the Kinks quality control department. And by Ray Davies, of course. Only good stuff came out under The Kinks banner.

    'Never Met A Girl Like You Before' is a 'All Day And All Of The Night' kind of Kinks riffing energy song, only without the crushing guitar riffs. The songs introduction makes you think 'Tired Of Waiting For You' is about to begin, but it doesn't. Ah, well. We carry on, and on to the true genius of 'See My Friends'. The eastern sounding guitar, the incredibly evocative lyrics. Playing across the river? What does this mean?? Well, we can draw all sorts of inclusions, can't we? The beauty of the song, the tune, the lyric. A masterpiece, no question. 'Who'll Be The Next In Line' is very funky, 'Don't You Fret' kind of Kinks 'ho-hum'. The closing 'I Need You' however. Well. It almost beats both 'You Really Got Me' and 'All Day And All Of The Night'. 'I Need You' was released as a b-side in the UK, originally. That was The Kinks.

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    Well Respected Kinks 8 ( 1966 )
    *Well Respected Man / *Where Have All The Good Times Gone / *Til The End Of The Day / *Set Me Free / *Tired Of Waiting For You / *All Day And All Of The Night / I Gotta Move / Don't You Fret / Wait Til The Summer Comes Along / *You Really Got Me

    A budget record label in the UK got to release this, and a number of other albums, Kinks albums included. Marble Arch. Sold for a lower price, compiled to included many Kinks hits alongside those stellar b-sides, clearly a commercial work. Clearly an album designed to sell and shift copies. No work of art, but a great selection of songs for the half-hour this artless Kinks album occupies. I love a song called 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone' released during arguably the all-time highpoint for British music and culture. The Kinks always stood out from the crowd. It's a masterful song, perfect in every single respect in what it's trying to acheive. Elsewhere on this Kinks Krowd pleaser, we have both 'All Day And All Of The Night' and 'You Really Got Me' and 'Tired Of Waiting For You'. The three biggest Kinks hits at that stage, all collected on the one ( then ) budget priced LP. Fans lapped it up, lapped up the newly released contemporary singles, etc, etc. The actual albums proper paled in comparision, in terms of sales, respect, everything else. The Kinks were ill-served in that respect. A beatles album was an event, a kinks album was, invariably, not as good as the single a and b sides they were releasing.

    'Set Me Free' is gorgeous, containing as it does, the same kind of nagging riff that all the best Kinks songs so far had contained. Like 'Tired Of Waiting For You', 'Set Me Free' places an addictive Kinks riff in a song that's reflective, moody, artful. Ah, the rest of the album is familiar and was familiar already to legions of music fans. The Kinks were already reissued, repacked. Already sold as cheap and tacky as can be. It obscured the value of the material they were releasing at the time - and this stigma would persist. The Kinks would move forwards, however. They'd challenge the preconceptions that had arisen around themselves.

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    Face To Face 9 ( 1966 )
    Party Line / *Rosy Won't You Please Come Home / *Dandy / *Too Much On My Mind / Session Man / Rainy Day In June / A House In The Country / Holiday In Waikiki / Most Exclusive Residence For Sale / Fancy / *Little Miss Queen Of Darkness / You're Lookin Fine / *Sunny Afternoon / I'll Remember

    'Party Line' romps home in familiar Kinks fashion yet things get stranger and more wonderful after that. 'Face To Face' was recorded over a period of months rather than the usual fashion dictated to them. This extra time allowed brings greater texture and variety to the performances. More attention to detail. The usual clutch of great Ray Davies songs are here but even 'lesser' material is made to shine. A special mention also to bass player Peter Quaife at this stage. The sound of his playing really does add an extra element to the sound of The Kinks. It's a satisfying and deep melodic sound. It's showcased well all during the classic 'Sunny Afternoon' single. Acoustic guitars, gorgeous little harmony sections, Ray's syrupy voice. Rinky dink music hall piano. The 'dum, dum, dum' descending bass line. Put all these elements together and an all-time classic is born. 'Sunny Afternoon' is the second to last song here, placed on the album ( no doubt at the record company's request ) seemingly as an afterthought. The good thing is it doesn't overshadow everything else. In much the same ball-park are songs such as 'Dandy', 'Too Much On My Mind' and the lovely droning 'Fancy'. Something else ( ha! ) to bear in mind when listening to 'Face To Face' is the then ban of The Kinks from touring the United States. A now legendary incident resulted in The Kinks being unable to directly promote their material in the US. It may just be coincidence that The Kinks turned towards their 'englishness' for 'Face To Face' and the string of albums that followed, but then again, perhaps not. They ended up a cult act for years before breaking big in the U.S. during the Seventies.

    I love the keyboard/piano sound that opens 'Session Man'. Adore the bass sound and story-telling lyrics of 'Rosy Won't You Please Come Home', a Ray Davies kitchen-sink drama of sorts. The bursting rain of 'Rainy Day In June' that musically feels as if a torrential downpour really is blowing across you. Both 'A House In The Country' and 'Holiday In Waikiki' resemble The Kinks garage approach of yore but it really isn't quite as straight-forward as that. The lyrics have become more impressive and reaching towards different subject matters. Another thing, although I don't know, but 'Holiday In Waikiki' sounds like a Monkees song. Very poppy, slightly silly. Ultimately more than satisfying. Great guitar work too, sound effects and evocative attention to production detail. A song such as 'Little Miss Queen Of Darkness' would be an all-time highlight of many groups careers. Here it just 'fades' into the overall group of ideas and acheivement that 'Face To Face' displays. Recent re-issues contain a bunch of incredible bonus tracks which i'll be discussing elsewhere. The original 14 track 'Face To Face' album itself was the first, but happily not the last time The Kinks were artistically matching the finest long-playing efforts the greatest artists of the sixties produced.

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    john, county kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    yep, 9/10 is about right. just as the beach boys studio albums are taking a giant leap foward, the kinks are making similar progress with this highly impressive work. little miss queen of darkness shows the effortless brilliance of ray davies.i bet sandy denny and richard thompson had a soft spot for rainy day in june.i wouldnt be surprised if they did.if has the eerie but completely charming feel to it that fairport convention showed in their always worthwhile output.god save the kinks.

    Id rate it a little bit less than "something else" to be honest , simply because i dont like 3 or 4 tracks and guage them as filler , where the following album seemed to have none at all . However it was certainly the start of a very productive period for the kinks , where davies and his music began to develop seriously . The droning "fancy" is a highpoint here along with the sour pop of "dandy" and "sunny afternoon" while "party line" seems to have influenced both the jam and blur in different ways . Also i feel the kinks made better albums than some of their peers of the time , ie the who and the small faces but didnt get quite the same acclaim . 7/10

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    Sunny Afternoon ( 1967 )
    *Sunny Afternoon / *I Need You / *See My Friends / *Big Black Smoke / Louie Louie / *Dedicated Follower Of Fashion / Sitting On My Sofa / Such A Shame / *I'm Not Like Everybody Else / *Deadend Street

    Not an album proper but rather ( see 'Well Respected Kinks' review ) the second budget priced Marble Arch Kinks compilation. The selection of songs here draws in all time classics and a couple of lesser moments. 'Louie Louie' is one of the lesser moments, especially considering this was now 1967, and the sound of The Kinks and music in general had begun to under-go radical change. Again 'Louie Louie' has seemingly been included to remind everybody of The Kinks garage roots. Its inclusion just comes across a little mis-placed. 'Such A Shame' was a song only two years old at the time, but as if to re-enforce the radical progress a lot of groups were making, it must have sounded positively antiquated. On the otherhand I have no problems at all with anybody including 'I Need You' on any album whatsoever. It truly is a romping 'You Really Got Me' styled winner! 'See My Friends' was also an earlier Kinks song but its inclusion here, alongside out-takes and b-sides from the 'Face To Face' era, is more natural. The eastern flavour of 'See My Friends' and the sophisticated lyrics fit with the likes of 'Fancy' from the 'Face To Face' record. Moving onto songs recorded during 1966, or just before, we have the storming 'Big Black Smoke'. More classic descending Kinks bass-lines, more combinations of melodies and lyrics that really do place a listener into the world the song is painting.

    'Dedicated Follower Of Fashion' is another in a long line of classic Kinks singles, 'Sitting On My Sofa' has a wonderfully addictive and nagging guitar riff. 'Dead End Street' is an all-time classic song that was idiotically, originally only a Kinks b-side. Other groups with a song this good would structure an entire album around it, a thematic centrepiece. Still, songs such as 'Dead End Street' and the equally classic 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else' have defintely stood the test of time. Quality, we hope, eventually does stand the test of time. This marble-arch released 'Sunny Afternoon' compilation out-sold both of The Kinks albums proper that surround it, by the way. The following years 'Something Else' struggled to even chart in the UK. Hit singles would continue to appear, but as far as albums were concerned, The Kinks just didn't fit the times. These days, they'd have been dropped, after either 'Something Else' or certainly after 'Village Green Preservation Society'. So just thank somebody up there that times and people were different back then.

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    Readers Comments

    Tony Murray tony@murray318.fsnet.co.uk
    Having bought this compilation from a second hand shop in 1979,it remained buried deep within my music collection untill 2002. On re-discovering it, it has become the most played collection of songs in our house, much to the frustratoin of everyone who lives here. I leave the album permenently on the turntable and put it on everytime i get in. In particulr i love "Big black smoke" and have tried on several occaisions to get my band to cover it. Unfortunatly to date, with not much success. The Kinks for me, far more than any other bands playing at that time were able to tap into peoples lives and imagination and if your old enough and can look deep enough into your subconscious musical liberary, you will realise just how influential they have been to many bands over the past four decades. Forget the Who, the Beatles and Stones. The Kinks were a lot more important and vital to musical culture than they were given credit for. Keep up the good work on the site. The revei! ws are great. Hope to hear from you soon Tony Murray.

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    Something Else ( 1967 )
    *David Watts / *Death Of A Clown / Two Sisters / No Return / Harry Rag / Tin Soldier Man / Situation Vacant / *Love Me Til The Sun Shines / *Lazy Old Sun / Afternoon Tea / Funny Face / *End Of The Season / *Waterloo Sunset

    The majority of this album had already been recorded before the release of 'Sgt Peppers'. The lazy, hazy atmosphere of several of the backing tracks may hint at the influence of 'Pet Sounds' by The Beach Boys, however. In England, at least, 'Pet Sounds' and The Beach Boys were THE band, circa 1966. 'Pet Sounds' influenced The Beatles with 'Revolver'. 'Revolver', among other releases, influenced the psychedelic rock underground. The same underground that enabled The Beatles to apparently lead the way with 'Sgt Pepper'. Still, 'Something Else by The Kinks', to give its full title? An unassuming title for an album, you might think, and you'd be right. It barely charted in the UK and did nothing in the US. 'Waterloo Sunset' reached number two in the singles charts and Dave Davies took the spotlight with his solo released 'Death Of A Clown'. 'Death Of A Clown' was actually a Ray and Dave co-write. Ray denies he got jealous about Dave's success, but then, he's only human. Chances are, he did get jealous. He responded by reminding everybody that before 'Death Of A Clown' was 'Waterloo Sunset' and after 'Death Of A Clown' was 'Autumn Almanac'. He has a point. Ah, brotherly jealously!! I have two elder brothers, trust me, I know all about it. 'Something Else' at the time was laughably out of fashion and even now, there's not quite anything else like it. Far from the album title suggesting this was just another album, lowercase - the title should be bold and uppercase. Boasting, 'SOMETHING ELSE!', yes, with added exclamation mark!!! Or three. This is a subtle album. The transition in the Kinks music, away from garage rock towards the likes of 'Sunny Afternoon' and 'Waterloo Sunset' is complete. Something else does indeed happen. It's so subtle you might miss it altogether.

    Example number one, the added female harmonies during 'Waterloo Sunset'. A gorgeous, feminine, romantic song. Following Paul McCartney claiming The Beach Boys 'God Only Knows' to be the best song ever written, comes this. Ray does a similar thing, reveals sides of himself, although adds in a story about two characters, 'Terry and Julie'. You wouldn't think it was romantic actually sitting on the London Underground, riding on it, waiting for a tube train. The sound of 'Waterloo Sunset' echoing past the ears of unhappy commuters. Staring out of the window at London travelling away from Waterloo Station? The world is grey and unhappy, much as the artwork of 'Something Else' evokes. Still, terry and julie 'cross over the river'. All is well, a shining brightness. However bad you're feeling, there's still romance. 'Death Of A Clown' captures the London essence of The Kinks very well in a different way. The drunkeness, the character of the people. The way Dave sings the song is perfect, the feel of the backing track, perfect. Songs such as 'Afternoon Tea', 'End Of The Season' and 'Lazy Old Sun' all evoke summer turning to autumn, just before winter. 'Lazy Old Sun' is a hugely underrated track. Listen to the lazy feel of the drums, the vocals. It's like laying down drunk on a paving stone, 5pm some Sunday evening. The sun beating down as you struggle home. You're not too drunk, mind. The next day, or perhaps the day after, the sun shines again. This time you smile, a girl has given you the eye, or her phone number. "Sunny rays, shine my way". Again, 'Something Else' has romance. Speaking about The Beatles 'Revolver', as I was earlier, the feel of the drums for 'Lazy Old Sun' was perhaps influenced by 'Revolver'. Don't know what the ghostly backing harmonies was influenced by, but it's a brilliant touch.

    Elsewhere? 'Tin Soldier Man' is fun, as is 'David Watts'. Dave contributes the great 'Love Me Til The Sun Shines' and the nearly as good 'Funny Face'. 'Harry Rag' is a more usual Kinks song, usual in that unlike the hazy, late afternoon, early evening autumn sunshine of the majority of the album, it evokes the usual London smoke of The Kinks. The smoke of 'Dead End Street', or 'Big Black Smoke', indeed. Still, I should reach some kind of conclusion. For me, 'Something Else' encapsulates all that's best of all the more reflective, romantic sides of The Kinks up and until this stage. There's black humour, story-telling, great songwriting. You know, people were happy in 1967. So i'm told. All the drugs I suppose. At least, I guess you would have supposed everybody else was enjoying free-love, so you tried to get into that mood yourself, drugs or no drugs. It rubbed off on the nation, even if free love was something you'd never dream of involving yourself in. The Kinks weren't just very English at this stage, they were very London. London was swinging. Although, The Kinks weren't swinging at all, they were telling stories and releasing 'Something Else', a strangely melancholy collection of songs that was released in 1967, but you'd never guess so, from listening to it. To my mind, that's a good thing.

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    jacob hamm fanmonster@hotmail.com
    I regard Something Else as a true kinks classic. The album is essential for every non conformist to todays music. But I have to especially note the song Lazy Old Sun. It seems as if Ray Davies has the same fear and praise for the sun as the ancient Britons themselves. Great song. Great album.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    I love this album by far my favourite of the kinks . Most of the rest of the bands output can be enjoyed in a comprehensive greatest hits package (although i accept others may disagree) but this collection of songs is rocking,twee,psychedelic,melancholy,vaudeville and disturbing sometimes all in the same song . lyrically davies seems preoccupied with how england and the class system prevent us from properly "being" ourselves.(see 2 sisters,david watts,situation vacant. )something as great as no return will always be overshadowed by waterloo sunset unfortunately but this album works as a whole . Who needs blur when you can have this ?

    lee Thebeestonpoet@aol.com
    this album is magic . but has TIN SOLDIER MAN an AFTERNOON TEA an showed the side of the kinks i hate . those cheesey songs an silly music/melody .MR PLEASENT ect . the two awful songs would pull it down a number or 2 for me ..on this album THE KINKS showed that they could be the best band in the world .an the worst band in the world ..surely people were telling him that these stupid ALL OF MY FRIENDS WERE THERE kinda songs are annoying as hell

    John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    The group's first masterpiece, and the CD release (late 90s) is reccomended for all the non album singles, difficult to find (unles you're willing to splash out top dollar) B-sides, as well as some great odds and ends. Good call by Tony on the various compilations. The Kinks always have a good track record in that department.

    Tagbo Munonyedi grimtraveller@hotmail.com
    I don't consider this to be a particularly strong album, either standing on it's own merits or when put up against it's competition from the period, but I do like it and it has a way of slowly but surely creeping up the scale of appreciation; it's also a major league improvement overall on Face To Face. This album coincides with that epochal moment in popular music when the album not only became the main artistic vehicle in the minds of the artist rather than an unthoughtout cheap cash in to get people to buy the single again, but also that point where artistic control starts to become a given rather than a special dispensation doled out to the chosen few. Of course it would take some years to reach full fruition, but the mid 60s was the start point. Bands naturally became more daring, especially after "Tomorrow never knows", "Mother's little helper", Dylan's histrionics and "Freak Out".

    Like many people, I share the view that Ray Davies was one of the prime movers when! it came to writing songs in the 1960s. Easilly the equal and sometimes the better, of Lennon, McCartney, Jagger, Richards, Harrison, Barrett, Wilson, Clarke, etc, coz he never had a musical partner to write with, it wasn't IMO until 1968 that he put together an album's worth of good songs, whereas none of the others had to {and Syd Barrett blew out of the game after the first attempt}. But in the 3 years up to this album, Davies had written so many high quality songs {I think their singles and a couple of EP tracks are as good as anything written in those years} and his biting wit was as savage as Lennon's, if not more so in some cases. The opener DAVID WATTS is a case in point; a truly clever song. Musically, it seems like the son of the Stones' LET'S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER but with it's own flourishes and catchy moments {"I wish I could be like, I wish I could be like"}. Lyrically it works on two levels, something the Britpoppers were becoming better and better at. Coz! on one level, it's about that brilliant guy that many of us h! ate at s chool but maybe wish we could be like. I went to school with a guy like that, captain of the rugby {I hated rugger}, basketball {I got in trouble for marking him out of a practice game once, coz I didn't think he was much good and I proved it. But it had the reverse effect; everyone felt sorry for him and I was presented as the villain of the piece !} and cricket {I had gone off it by then} teams. He was in the top class and the sun actually shone out of his, well, you know. He looked like Woody from the Bay City Rollers and was obsessed with Queen {his only good point - he had "A night at the opera"}. Actually, I didn't really want to be like him but as a kid there were people I wanted to be like.....but on the other hand, I think that it's Davies' pointing out the flaws and hypocrisy in the British class system. It's inspired by a real event from '66 and David Watts was a real bloke, a gay cop, or at least a guy who was constantly in the company of gay cops, in an era when! homosex was illegal in Britain and he apparently wanted to make off with Dave for a session of "internal discovery" yet, he was supposed to enforce the law {or was at least keeping company with those that were }, the irony of which was not lost on Ray. Some people, he seemed to be saying, were above the law {hence, the "I wish I could be like..."}. The bastions of law and order weren't the only targets Ray had in his sights. Just about every comment I've seen about DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION maintains that it was him having a dig at swinging London but in interviews I've seen him in he denies it. Maybe it is about mods, but I think it's Dave he's really having a veiled swipe at { in the same way I think "Session Man" from the previous LP is both an affectionate nod to Nicky Hopkins and a sideswipe at Jimmy Page} and the theme carries on in the delightful TWO SISTERS, which is ostensibly about sibling rivalry but it's interesting that all the positives are about the! sister with the kids and drudgery. The one with the seemingly! excitin g single life is definitely shown as the loser here. At this point, Ray had married a young fan and I think he had a kid and his life seemed a million miles away from Dave's who was out on the town, regularly wreaking havoc with Keith Moon and Brian Jones in various clubs, seemingly on a one man crusade to break to pieces every social convention in existence {he openly admits to loads of sexual relationships with men in the 60s, though he is adamant he was not gay}. The song has a charming setting, that harpsichord giving it an Elizabethan air, rather like LADY JANE, and it's a gorgeous melody, one of a few heavyweights on the album. Dave on the other hand fulfils the Harrison/Entwistle role of "minor" writer in the band {in the eyes of the major writer}, yet his contributions to the overall album are, IMO, excellent {were the Kinks doing a 'Revolver' here ? } and if you add "Suzannah" and "Lincoln County" from the bonus tracks, it seems the man was on a creative roll i! n this period although he was definitely second fiddle to his brother. But only just. I don't like "Funny face" although I think it's a courageous song and very Entwistlesque in it's attempt to tackle a very hairy subject; I read somewhere that it was about the love of another bloke and not just that, but one in a mental hospital. Unfortunately it's not a very imaginative tune. Nor is "Love me till the sun shines" but for some reason, it works and it seems to cleverly embrace in sound and style the rawness of the old Kinks as well as the direction they were heading in. It's such a juxtaposition coming from a young lad who was challenging most of the social norms of the times....coz while it could be taken as an ode to a prostitute or a sex addict's charter or in praise of one night stands, I find the words revealing. Dave just wanted to be loved, by his brother, by his old girlfriend {more of which later}, by the fans, by his daughter, etc. And it comes across some thirty y! ears later in his autobiography. "Death of a clown" is probabl! y the be tter known of his songs here coz it was a solo hit single and quite deservedly too. It could easilly have been written by Ray - it shows that Dave could write with biting insight too - and is one of the most Kink like songs they ever did, which is not as stupid as that initially sounds. Ray however oozes more interesting songs that are ever so English and about time too ! But that wasn't in itself unusual, many of the British bands were doing that, partly as a result of folk music, partly because of the reaction to LSD {though acid wasn't a Kinks distraction then}, partly due to the natural expansion of subject matter in pop that had been opened up by Dylan and interestingly enough, the Who, and partly due to that feeling that England was no longer an inferior satellite of the USA. Virtually every British band that emerged before 1967 had been in some way inspired or influenced by American blues, rock or country and had been singing about all these mythological places! and exploring American themes and it just got to a point where it was gonna sound stupid to keep singing about smokestack lightning, parchment farms, route 66 and Memphis Tennessee etc ! The so called British invasion of the US in '64-65 directly impacted swinging London and the Brits got confident about who they were and where they came from. "Harry Rag" and "Tin soldier man" leak Englishness in both sound and subject matter, the former being such a staple part of English life, even now. Cigarettes have always been a far more dominant drug than weed ! I'm not sure how well known it is that a Harry rag is old cockney rhyming slang for a cigarette (a fag). That said, I find the whole cockney rhyming slang thing to be something of an evolved myth. You just don't meet people that speak that way ! I've lived in London since '69 apart from a five year gap circa '76-'81 and I've never heard anyone use it. You'll hear it on the telly when a cockney stereotype is portrayed, but yo! u won't hear it in everyday life ! Like I've never heard a Sco! t say "o ch aye, the noo !" except in comics. I'm sure they may have done, two centuries ago, though.

    "Situation vacant" is such a classic of it's time, Mick Avory being such a super steady drummer. He played with the embryonic Rolling Stones before Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts appeared on the scene {although it would be stretching it to say he was a member of the Stones} and Keith Richards used to be so disparaging about his timekeeping {mind you, Keef had a pop at everyone - Jagger's a snob, Wyman was a shitty tunesmith, Brian was an obnoxious wanker, black bluesmen were ugly, Townsend couldn't tune his guitar, Klein was a rip off hustler etc, etc, etc !}. But by the mid 60s he really was steady as a rock and I think much of his underrated playing was integral to the sound of the Kinks. "Situation Vacant" was a phrase that reverberated Britishness, I remember seeing it in loads of papers as a kid; that's where you went to if you wanted a job. If you want a good example of Brit! pop at it's finest, look no further than this track, it's got so many little bits going on even though it sounds quite basic.

    Not all Ray's songs work though. "End of the season" is for me simply a yawn, though it's a good song. And as for "No return", good grief !! It's too clever for it's own good with one of the most "boring while complex" melodies I've yet come across. There's a setting on a mellotron called "Rhythm" {they're numbered 1-10} and when you hit a key, you get this weird old time 30s eight second snatch of orchestra. It changes according to the key you press but that's what "No return" sounds like. I can't stand it. "Lazy old Sun" is one that should have been a neo psychedelic classic. But the recording on the album has something seriously wrong with it, it's almost unlistenable. When I first heard it I thought there was something wrong with the disc. It's as though the mixing console or tape machine that recorded it kept losing power. Sonically it's! awful. Fortunately on the CD one of the bonus tracks is an al! ternativ e take so that suffices and it reveals a damn good track. I'd love to hear what the Pretty Things would've made of it in their SF Sorrow phase...... Both Dave Davies and Pete Quaife went on to have real issues about Ray's leadership of the band and to some extent, I can understand that, especially Pete Quaife, coz after all, it was kind of his band in the first place {he was a founder member} and it is claimed that early on, he was more like the group spokesman. But how can you fight against someone who knocks up utter and devastating meisterworks like "Afternoon tea" and "Waterloo Sunset" ? The former is my favourite on the album proper and it's the closest that the band ever got to sounding all the way through a song like the Beatles, with Paul writing and singing lead......It is so Beatlesque and beautiful. But this is no piece of plagiarism, it's a totally original piece of music. Ironically, Quaife's bass playing is one of the highlights of the song as is Dave's gu! itaring. There isn't a weakness in the song, it's so beautifully sung and the backing vocals are simple but stunning. I'd say the same for "Waterloo Sunset", which is one of the great songs of our time. One of those classic iconic images of the 60s is the band performing this single on "Top of the pops" {or at least, I think it's TOTP}, complete in frilly shirts and thick sideburns ! Actually, the Kinks predated the frilly shirt fashion a good two and a half years before Hendrix and the hippies while Dr Who didn't cotton on till the end of the decade ! But I digress....the song has an interesting genesis. Ray Davies was commenting on the Liverpool sunset, using it as a metaphor for the death of merseybeat. It seems ridiculous now but in 1963 and a little of '64, Mersybeat was hailed as the big thing in British rock and pop. As the story went, record companies were signing up anyone that had a scouse accent and played in a "beat combo". In the UK in '63, a record produced by! George Martin was top of the charts for an incredible 37 out ! of 52 we eks, a staggering statistic that no one has ever come close to since {or before} and most of his clientele were merseybeat groups or singers. But IMO merseybeat could never have lasted coz it was shown to be a fad {and was pretty shallow for the most part, way past it's peak; whether it was ever truly creative rather than worshipful is a matter for debate} and by the end of '64 the London based bands had their foot in the door and by '65 had taken over, with only Birmingham ever seriously rivalling London as a possible epicentre. Anyway, Davies changed his mind and wrote about the literal beauty of the London landscape instead coz the Liverpool scene in his mind had sagged to it's knees ! It's a fantastic song, the lyrics are superb in their ordinariness, the otherworldly feel of the overall song is unique and the interraction of bass and lead guitar makes one realize just how skilled the Kinks could be within their limitations. I'm a fairly recent convert to bonus trac! ks on CD reissues but some of the ones here are top notch. On "Face to face" it's the presence of 6 bonuses that enables me to make up a worthwhile recording ! Here, "Autumn almanac" and "Wonderboy" are two more superb singles, the first being a big hit, the latter being a very minor one. But I think "Wonderboy" is the better of the two. Ray was on a seriously melodic roll in this period. But two of Dave's singles from january and july of '68 are also classics in their own significant way."Suzannah's still alive" is, as far as I'm concerned, the one song that explains Dave Davies in a way no other could. When he was about 15, he got his girlfriend pregnant and they were really into each other but their parents conspired to break them up, kind of the opposite to an arranged or shotgun marriage, and they weren't allowed to see each other but each was told that one didn't want to see the other so they grew up with many unresolved thoughts and feelings...The girl had the child ! and it was years before Dave met his daughter. I think her nam! e was Su san or Suzannah and I can't hear this song without also hearing the pleading, hope and pain as it's subtext. I think it really affected him in his life and alot of his behaviour makes sense with this in mind. I think his brother and daughter are the two main wheels on which Dave's life has turned....It's also a great song with one of the funniest piano riffs yet played !

    As for "Lincoln County", maybe it's just me but I think it's hilarious. On the surface of it, it seems like an Englishman's attempt at some more countrified Americana, complete with US place name and fiddles weaving in and out for a bit of authenticity. Of course, many American place names are copped from a variety of sources like the bible {Bethel}, Britain {New York, Boston,}, Greek culture and language {Memphis, Philadelphia}, Native Indians {Idaho}, Spain {LA, Frisco} etc. But there's a certain irony at play coz Lincoln{shire} is a county in England {in fact, Boston is in Lincolnshire} and even the count! ry bit makes me wonder coz after all this time, I still can't figure out if those really are fiddles or whether it's a mellotron on a string setting. Dave was right about Lincoln county being full of pretty girls and I should know, for in my youth I loved a maiden fair from Lincoln County {and the less said about that, the better ! }. It's a brilliant song, so catchy and eminently singable and it bombed as a single which I think is a great pity, but there you go. "Something Else By" certainly shows the Kinks moving into place in the pantheon of album greatness but overall it never quite makes it for me, notwithstanding it's outstanding songs.

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    Village Green Preservation Society 9 ( 1968 )
    *The Village Green Preservation Society / *Do You Remember Walter / Picture Book / Johnny Thunder / Last Of The Steam Powered Trains / Big Sky / *Sitting By The Riverside / Animal Farm / *Village Green / Starstruck / Phenomenal Cat / *All Of My Friends Were There / Wicked Annabella / Monica / People Take Pictures Of Each Other

    As The Beatles released 'The White Album', as The Rolling Stones were redefining themselves and coming back more powerful than ever. As blues-rock bands were formed up and down the country. The Kinks were releasing an album about village-greens. An album that takes another Kinks view of England, that of the English countryside. 'Village Green Preservation Society' was as far away from almost everything else that was happening in popular music at the time, that its no small wonder really it didn't sell. It's a shame, as greater exposure for this work would have reversed the common perception of The Kinks as a singles act. Following on from 'Face To Face' and 'Something Else', this album proves that The Kinks were putting together a string of albums as strong as anybody. The genesis for this album went back as far as 1966, with the recording of a song titled 'Village Green'. Two years later, Ray's concept is fully fledged, 'Village Green' is joined by the title song and 13 other pieces of escapism and story-telling. It's a beautiful work. The title song kicks things off with classic Kinks word-play, 'Do You Remember Walter' is bouncy and both these opening songs are pop songs. Hummable, singable. The lack of sales this album has suffered from down the years certainly isn't down to the material not being approachable! It's a truth apparent right through to the end and the closing 'People Take Pictures Of Each Other', such a funny song!

    'Village Green', which is the 'other' title song, if you will, is a work of brilliance. Lovely harmonies, very clever lyrics that don't just suggest or place images in your mind, they get out a paintbrush, too. 'Big Sky' and 'Starstruck' are two of the more uptempo, 'rockier' songs here, if rockier is the correct term to use. 'Big Sky' in particular adds needed variety. One possible complaint that can be levelled at this album is the sameness of sound many of the tracks display. It's a minor point, as even though the overall feel is reflective, descriptive and gentle - songs as nice as the undulating charm of 'Sitting By The Riverside' or the too hilarious to believe 'All Of My Friends Were There' are just that good. Oh, i'm gonna mention 'Last Of The Steam Powered Trains' alongside the likes of the guitar pop of 'Starstruck' and the guitar sound of 'Big Sky'. A nice bluesy feel to this track is very welcome indeed. 'Johnny Thunder' is another highlight on an album full of them, a gentle album that infuses a picturesque countryside sunday picnic with doses of charm and humour. Everything combines well to provide a lasting timeless appeal.

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    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    Easy 9 & 1/2. I'm docking 1/2 a point only because "Phenomenal Cat" is a little too twee and charming for Kink-minded ears. Most well-known albums released in 1968 can be best described as a "sonic squall" (which is alright in my book). But THIS album is introspective and gentle, and Ray Davies has something to say (which is, commenting and bemoaning the state of British society circa 1968) without pounding the eardrums to get the point across.

    Jude Bolton Bolton_154@hotmail.com
    Ten! There isn't a track on this album that I don't love, and that includes the bonus tracks Days and Mr Songbird. I'm hard pressed to find a favourite...at one stage I thought Do You Remember Walter, but now I'm leaning towards the piano-waltz Sittin By The Riverside. Animal Farm, Village Green, Big Sky, and the title track round out my top 5 (6).

    jacob hamm fanmonster@hotmail.com
    It is difficult to choose a favorite album by the kinks, but this one stands out. Not only as my personal favorite, but also as my favorite English album in general. The title track is an amazing song with a great message, it best reflects the albums theme.I also have to say that phenomenal cat is very underrated, it almost sounds like something Syd Barret would write.

    Andy Holloway andrew.holloway@churchill.com
    Too young to hear this first time around in '68. I was only 4 at the time. Bought the CD reissue in '98, played it a couple of times and didn't think much of it, couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Dug it out a few weeks ago and now can't stop listening to it. Especially in the car on my own. It fills me with a warm nostalgic glow for my own childhood. Perhaps it's 'cos I'm about to turn 40!!! Brilliant album!

    barry edward whyte walrusoflove@btinternet.com
    I recently got this classic album from HMV. All of the tracks on both albums are brilliant but if I had a favourite it would have to be the title track followed by animal farm.

    Matt montyburns25@hotmail.com
    Great site you've got there. I am writing to you from the position of a relative Kinks novice (at least as far as albums go) and would appreciate any advice you may have on where is the best place to start with them. I am particularly enamoured with Ray Davies' sense of old 'Englishness'- i.e. the themes on the 'Village Green preservation society' and was wondering which other Kinks LP follow similar lines

    matthew byrd matthewbyrd@hotmail.com
    In a word, BRILLIANT! I've listened to few albums as worthy of praise as this. God bless the Kinks.

    bert ant.life@planet.nl
    Just want to point out the progression Mick Avory made with this album. Compare his drumwork with that of Ringo and Charlie Watts: he really is the first true rock-drummer, check his fills!

    Fred Bittle fredbittle@verizon.net
    I only really ever heard the Kinks tunes that got radio play...then heard "Picture Book" on the TV ad on the West Coast, and had to look into the song...after reading the other comments, can't wait to hear the whole album...just need to know where to buy it (CD?).

    Magda Konopka magda_konopka@yahoo.co.uk
    When I bought the record in one of Berwick street second-hands in 1999, I had no idea that the album will charm me to such a degree that six years later I will be writing my MA thesis on the Kinks ;-) All in all,brilliant work, no doubt:)

    Mikey.P bunglewafc@hotmail.com
    Even though Im only a meager 21 years old and in many peoples eyes too young to sample real music I have in fact been a fan of the kinks for 10 years. It obviously stemmed from one of the many compilations that included all the laymans kinks tunes that still rock the heart. As I grew older I began to collect all their original vinyls and have since reduplicated my collection in cd form. I had forgotten about these hidden gems for at least two years until I stumbled across this site. My humble congratulations to u adrian! It made me lift up the old bed n dig out some of the classics, face to face, kinks kontroversy and unltimately this lil gem. I am currently doing my English finals coursework listening to this lil ditty. In amazement at 'picture book', Big sky and my ultimated bluesy fave, 'Last of the steam powered trains'. Its just pure class n wanted to tell the world!!!!! Deed done!

    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    just perfect. imagine if laurie lee and philip larkin were more musically minded....... it still wouldn't match this. sigmund freud tried to explain certain types of nostaglia as simply a longing to return to a pre-oedipul state of perfection. no offence intended siggy, but i'll stick with the ray davies school of spiritual and emotional thoght, than you very much. yummy. 256,000/10.

    R. Druery robertsondruery@hotmail.com
    Here's the test. You can listen to this album really damn loud and dance drunkenly to it with your friends. You can listne to it wearing headphones and learn a bit about yourself. You can hear it in your car while talking with friends and loved ones and discuss issues raised by it. Not too bad.

    That davies was living in a different world to his 60s peers is pretty obvious . His lyrical concerns were miles away from the swinging 60s . Sometimes davies does come over like the pub bore with his nostalgia and reveries of english childhood but fortunately he couches these lyrical conceits with pretty ace tunes . Its a strong melodic album , one can only marvel at how the kinks take a howlin wolf tribute like "steam trains" and turn into something so english ,"wicked annabella" is 60s rock as childs nightmare and "picture book" and "johnny thunder" show davies could match anyone in the 60s powerpop arena while "sitting by the riverside" and "starstruck" show the kinks were tuned into another traditional music form -- that of vaudeville and the variety and radio shows of davies youth . That it was originally conceived as a stage show is of no surprise . 8/10 seems perfectly fair .

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    Arthur 9 ( 1969 )
    *Victoria / Yes Sir No Sir / Drivin / *Brainwashed / *Australia / *Shangri La / Mr Churchill Says / She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina / *Young And Innocent Days / Nothing To Say / Arthur

    Another comedy of errors ensured that another Kinks album didn't sell. 'Village Green' had suffered from a lack of promotion thanks in part to Ray changing his mind about the original track-listing, thus delaying the release of the album. 'Arthur' was tied to a TV Drama that never got made and when 'Arthur' was eventually released as a rather fine new set of Kinks song, people made unflattering comparisons with The Who's 'Tommy', which they mistakenly saw 'Arthur' trying to imitate. Still, 'Arthur' may have pleased then long-term Kinks fans, because it has a little more bite about it musically than the two albums preceeding it. Two albums that yes, are favourite Kinks albums of mine, but you wouldn't have wished for a third album in that style straight away. So, 'Arthur' gives us guitars, with the magnificent 'Shangri La', The Kinks apply everything they'd learnt from the song-craft they'd developed with 'Something Else' and 'Village Green Preservation Society', married it to the kind of sound they had in 1964, yet supercharged it. The brass instruments present through parts of this album remind inevitably of 'Sgt Peppers', but that's not meant to put down The Kinks acheivement here. 'Arthur' is an incredibly solid collection of songs. 'Drivin' works to combine beautiful softer Kinks with a mid to uptempo pop song that's just so very catchy. Oh, before I carry on. One of the CD bonus tracks is a number called 'King Kong' that invents the glam rock T Rex a good couple of years prior to the event. Cool.

    'Brainwashed' cooks, the brass combines with a driving rhythm section ( featuring new-boy John Dalton on bass ) and some of Dave's tasty guitar sounds. The title song is a delicious piece of catchy pop that also tells a story. It's obviously an important song in that its the title song and would have been more so, had that TV Drama ever been completed. 'She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina' is typically quirky Ray Davies songwriting, yet beautifully sang. 'Some Mothers Son' is entirely beautifully sang, the singing makes the song. 'Young And Innocent Days' is a very sweet song, the brothers harmonizing to great effect. Every song a winner here, oh yes. 'Yes Sir, No Sir', 'Australia'. I could name them all. I won't though. There aren't quite the same quantity of highs on this album that either 'Something Else' or 'Village Green Preservation Society' displayed, but there is absolutely no filler, and that counts for something.

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    jacob hamm fanmonster@hotmail.com
    Undeniably one of the kinks best. The music and lyrics are great. I treat every song on this album as equals. Ray Davies had truly mastered the concept album better than anyone by this time.

    Jude Bolton Bolton_154@hotmail.com
    This is an overrated... I'm not even going to use that word. I'm a sissy pop lover, and Arthur doesn't appeal to me as much as the wonderful Village Green. Just like my favourite Stones album is Flowers.

    Matt Byrd matthewbyrd@hotmail.com
    I don't get it, why are these guys so unknown (well, except for 'You Really Got Me Now')? They deserve much more credit. Few pop albums are as accomplished as Arthur. The Kinks are really one of the great bands in rock 'n' roll, I'll take 'em over Led Zeppelin anyday!

    Jeff S novaflow@hotmail.com
    Although Lola v. Powerman is my personal favorite, there is absolutely nothing better than this album. To say it doesn't have as many highs is preposterous in my book! Shangri-La is very quite possibly the best song I have ever heard in my entire life. (Except possibly This Time Tomorrow.) Two beautifully brilliant songs that as a 25 year old bored American youth/adult from West Virginia with a private law firm and a semi-successful rock n roll band, I relate to better than anything I've ever heard. Thanks for this page.

    GAZZA Edinburgh
    Dont enjoy this one as much as the previous 2 albums . Parts of it seem very badly recorded and 2 or 3 songs here grate on my ears - in particular the cockney dustman routine on "princess marina" with the bloody kazoo. Shame cos as a concept album it pisses all over tommy and has genuinely interesting arrangements and improvisation , not to mention 2 of the kinks finest songs "shangri la" and "victoria"

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    Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround 7 ( 1970 )
    The Contenders / Strangers / Denmark Street / Get Back In Line / *Lola / Top Of The Pops / *The Money Go Round / *This Time Tomorrow / A Long Way From Home / Rats / Apeman / Powerman / Got To Be Free

    A strange album that sees The Kinks sounding a little tired and Ray Davies sound a little worse for wear, or indeed, wired. A belter of an example of that arrives with the bitter, yet incredibly funny, 'The Moneygoround'. In a similar vein is the only slight less enjoyable 'Denmark Street'. The idea of The Kinks ending their long association with their record label with huge diatribes, is hugely warming to me. I'm like that! The best song here for me isn't the huge hit song 'Lola', but rather the storming 'This Time Tomorrow', a gem in The Kinks entire catalogue. It's just so perfectly constructed, piano aiding the guitars - energy is there and the lyrics are great. It's all you could want, there's a middle section, a beginning. Hell, there's even an end, there's even vocal harmonies. What more could I want? I love the strummed guitar sections. Love the sweet vocal sections. You get the general idea, I hope. As for 'Lola', it's a song that very easy to remember and sing a-long with, it has simple melodies, always key in creating a hit song. It was also a hit song in America, The Kinks ban there had ended and that ending would create a beginning, eg, the direction The Kinks would take through good parts of the seventies. Not that Ray was ever going to be predictable or make it easy for Kinks fans, after all, that would be too easy!

    There are some good songs here then, but often, those good songs are made by certain moments. 'Get Back In Line' is made by its introduction, Dave's 'Strangers' is made by his weary vocal performance. Trouble is, such fleeting moments don't lend to the songs being repeat playable or timelessly memorable. They are the kind of songs you forget straight after hearing them, although you know you enjoyed them whilst you actually WERE listening to them. Bearing that in mind, plus the success of 'Lola', it's no wonder the album sold far better than the more artistically ambitious albums that came immediately before it. Yes, there certainly are forgettable songs here, although the highlights i've mentioned are high enough, that had they been joined by a few more highlights, could have seen this album embraced as well by critics as the previous few had. 'Apeman' was also a hit, by the way. It's very very repetitive, very very repetitive. It's repetitive. Did I also say that it was repetitive?

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    GR surdo_GR@yahoo.com
    The trend at the moment amongst Kinks fans is to rate this one lower than "Muswell Hillbillies" among their early 70's output. I like "Muswell" a lot, but I think this record is far superior and represents everything I love about the way records in the early 1970's sounded and felt. This is also the Kinks' best "band" album. They never sounded as tight and dynamic as they sounded here and Dave's presence is most strongly and effectively felt on this record too. His beautifully weird "Strangers" is gorgeous and passionately priceless--and never did he and Ray harmonize as perfectly as they did on songs like "The Contenders" "A Long Way From Home" "Powerman" etc etc. A perfect companion (and equal) to other early 70's rock masterpieces like "Who's Next" "Sticky Fingers" "After The Gold Rush" "Hunky Dory" etc.

    kevin gallaugher
    This album hold a special place in my heart. It has several of my all time favorite Kinks songs: "This Time Tomorrow", "Strangers", "Get Back in the Line", and "Long Way From Home". Notice I left out the hits "Lola" and "Apeman", which is further indicative of the overall strength the album holds in my esteem. Growing up in a small Louisiana town during the 60's, it wasn't easy to find everything on vinyl, so my initial encounter with this record came via 8-track tape! It's a recording I've returned to time and again the last 38 or so years.

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    Muswell Hillbillies 10 ( 1971 )
    *20th Century Man / *Acute Schizophrenia Paranoid Blues / *Holiday / *Skin And Bone / Alcohol / Complicated Life / Here Come The People In Grey / *Have A Cuppa Tea / Holloway Jail / *Oklahoma USA / Uncle Son / *Muswell Hillbilly

    The Kinks move record labels. The way the previous label promoted Kinks albums being something of a bone of contention. Thus, no singles were pulled from 'Muswell Hillbillies', although '20th Century Man' was released as a single in certain European countries. That doesn't matter. Ray Davies went out of his way NOT to write a deliberate hit song. He didn't want his new label ( RCA ) to have any excuse not to promote the album to the best of their ability. Times were changing, in any case. The dawn of the Seventies was a time where the album artist was always seen as more important than the singles artist. The Kinks wanted to be taken seriously by sections of the music industry they felt hadn't previously taken them seriously. Anyway, as far as the actual music here is concerned, as far as this cohesive album work is concerned, we've got The Kinks finest hour. London and British lyrical themes are woven around musical tracks that owe a lot to American musical styles, Country Rock in particular. The theme for the album lyrically was the area Ray and Dave grew up in, Muswell, London. A placed bombed to bits during World War II, to be raised again, post-war. Although the title of the opening song now dates this album in a sense, nearly almost everything else here is timeless music of the finest calibre. The country rock thing? It's Kinks country rock, not quite genuine of course, but the net result IS a genuinely new sound for The Kinks. Where was I? Oh yeah, a ten?? I've put this album above more common choices, namely 'Arthur' or 'Village Green Preservation Society'? Well, yes. This is a finely paced album, an album with musical variety, fine playing and songwriting. New record label, new sound, a new dawn for The Kinks. It's something of a shame therefore that this album sold next to nothing in The Kinks native England.

    The songs? Well, '20th Century Man' is a stormer, an absolute fire up the arse, a classic Kinks moment. Acoustic guitar opens the song. The drums roll in, bass guitar. Great vocal performance from Ray. A song with real energy and purpose! 'Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues' has parping trumpet, a real delicious lazy feel. Wonderful lyrics, but we expect that from The Kinks, don't we? We switch again, through the quality of 'Holiday' and 'Skin And Bone'. Two more contrasting songs, the second being a potential hit as far as I'm concerned. Very catchy little guitar lines, a simple hook and a great chorus. 'Alcohol', ha-ha, ha! Brilliant song lyrically and vocally, with music perfectly evoking a mood. Ray does that music-hall thing with his voice. 'Have A Cuppa Tea' surely could and should have been released a single and turned into a hit? Klassic Kinks all the way, such fun!! It's a song you can't resist singing along with, beautiful uplifting guitar sounds. The songs immediately before this are more serious. Variety, as I said. An album that flows beautifully and remains 'quality' throughout. Easily the most krafted and konsistent Kinks album, all told!! Oh, sorry for all the k's. I do apologise, it's just hard to resist, you know???

    Oh, more wonderful songs arrive, especially 'Oklahoma, USA'. A mournful Piano pattern, sad yet utterly beautiful vocals. A song with feeling, such a spine-chilling tune. The final number gets the tempo and blood flowing, a fantastic way to close, all happy and very definitely the way to close this album. As if it were a film, or a novel. So many albums fail to have a proper beginning, middle and end. 'Muswell Hillbillies' certainly does. Whilst The Kinks produced a wealth of classics during the Sixties, and this album doesn't quite match that strike-rate, there is no filler. The entire thing is such a nice listen, I don't hesitate to give this a perfect score. Besides, The Kinks deserve it. God save The Kinks!!

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    jacob hamm fanmonster@hotmail.com
    Every song is perfect. The Kinks are truly the best English band. The best song is 20th century man. Ray Davies is a great songwriter.

    Rick Derington derington1@yahoo.com
    I totally agree with you on this one. I love Something Else and VGPS, but for some reason this one never gets the same credit and I think its their best.

    gert van houts gert.vanhouts@worldonline.nl
    Great album. I bought it somewhere in early 1972 and it perfectly reflected the zeitgeist. The aftermath of Woodstock still dominated College interest in alternative singer songwriters upon release of this album. Non-commercial and totally neglected by the public as opposed to the great 45s of the 60`s by the same band. Very few artists of the 60`s made a transition so perfectly as the Kinks. Sadly it was the last great album by the band. Allthough big in the US at the turn of the 70`s, this quality was never repeated by the band since.

    john, county kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    the kinks move with such ease from one style of music to something altogether different. albums like this and the flying burrito's gilded palace of sin showed how fantastic country rock is, when handled by the right people.ray davies can create a masterpiece with his eyes closed. 10/10.

    Dianne Harrogaterefugee@blueyonder.co.uk
    Great album, favourite songs Skin and Bone and, Alcohol. Sadly I took my album to a party - never got it back! The Kinks truly are a legend, great performers always. If anyone has the album and, wants to offload it, I would be very interested in buying.

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    Everybody's In Showbiz ( 1972 )
    Here Comes Another Day / Maximum Consumption / Unreal Reality / Hot Potatoes / *Sitting In My Hotel / *Motorways / You Don't Know My Name / *Supersonic Rocket Ship / Look A Little On The Sunnyside / Celluloid Heroes / Top Of The Pops / Brainwashed / Mr Wonderful / Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues / Holiday / Muswell Hillbilly / Alcohol / Banana Boat Song / Skin And Bone / Baby Face / Lola

    The Kinks attempted something The Byrds had successfully done a few years before, a half live, half studio album. The Byrds won back a lot of their lapsed audience with their acclaimed 'Untitled' set, but what about The Kinks? Well, the album sunk without trace in their native UK. In the US, it built upon the efforts of 'Muswell Hillbillies' without ever reaching the consistent and glorified heights that particular effort did. There's a good reason for this, the material isn't as good. As far as the live side of this album is concerned, well. Take it or leave it. Don't get me wrong, it's performed very well. However, the live side of this album remains inessential. You rather get the feeling you had to be there, watching Ray sing his way through 'Alcholol', etc, etc. So, the studio songs? Well, they retain most of the feel of 'Muswell Hillbillies', yet sound somewhat lazy. As if rushed out to capitalize on the interest The Kinks had received in the US thanks to 'Muswell Hillbillies'. There are one or two Kinks Klassics here, but most of the rest is sadly inessential. A fine song arrives courtesy of the storming Kinks Kountry 'Motorway'. It's hilariously funny and so very well done, total Kinks delight. 'Supersonic Rocket Ship' is the nearest this album got to a hit song, and very catchy it is too. There's a vague reggae thing going on, a vague Marc Bolan vocal impersonation ( or had Marc already tried to impersonate Ray earlier? Or is that just me??! ) going on, etc, etc.

    Good moments arrive. 'Unreal Reality' sounds so weary and drunken initially, it's a wonder it's alive at all. A true masterpiece arrives, the only such real masterpiece here, with 'Sitting In My Hotel'. It's an obviously off the cuff moment of genius, as many such Ray Davies moments appear to be. Inspiration and genius, equally so? There are indeed a fine few lyrically interesting songs on this album, yet the music at times seems blunt, too much without subtly. The material fails to stick in the mind as it should. For an album that, on a first glance, sounds much the same as its predecessor, the fact that it's a hell of a lot less enjoyable is somewhat curious.

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    john, county kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    you show scant regard for celluloid heroes. surely the kashmir to waterloo sunset's stairway to heaven.....? 7/10.

    Dan j4triv@lycos.com
    Did "Celluloid Heroes" not get any attention in Britain? It's about all anybody remembers of this album (or, indeed, the Kinks' RCA output at all) in the US.

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    Preservation Act 1 8 ( 1973 )
    Morning Song / Daylight / *Sweet Lady Genevieve / There's A Change In The Weather / *Where Are They Now? / One Of The Survivors / Cricket / Money And Corruption / Here Comes Flash / *Sitting In The Midday Sun / Demolition

    Ray Davies, being a theatrical sort, cooked up a theatrical stage presentation of their own acclaimed 'Village Green Preservation Society' album. Rather than change what he already considered a complete work, to fit theatrical demands - Ray, with a bee in his bonnet, decided to write a whole new album based upon 'Village Green'. So, some of the same characters reappear, eg, Johnny Thunder, etc. Yet, for reasons best known to Ray himself and the record company, The Kinks, inbetween touring, had a full six weeks to write all of the material for their newly proposed double or even triple LP concept album! Material was indeed recorded, Ray didn't like the mixes. With the record company breathing down his neck for new product, his original vision of 'Preservation' changed. It was now to be two seperate albums, with the first introducing the characters whilst the second would contain the bulk of the narrative action. Ninety minute long live performances played around with the material as Ray condensed both LPs into something resembling his original vision. The unfortunate result of all of this is that the two 'Preservation' albums have something of a sense of compromise about them. Having said that, this first album at least, is hugely satisfying. Some fine Ray Davies songs are here, most of them overlooked gems when people discuss The Kinks catalogue and legacy.

    The three songs here sung by 'The Tramp' ( eg, the character Ray Davies seemed to adopt the most for himself ) are all wonderful Kinks songs of the highest calibre. 'Sweet Lady Genevieve' is a wonderfully catchy rock song, good lyrics and a song that deserved to be a hit, but wasn't. This is the sound and the quality of 'Muswell Hillbillies' two years on. 'Everybody's In Showbiz' doesn't really contain a single song as good as 'Sweet Lady Genevieve' or the other two songs here sung by 'The Tramp' either, for that matter. So, the second such song is 'Where Are They Now?' a beautiful piano led Kinks ballad. The final song is something that really fits in with the origins of this album project, the 'Village Green Preservation Society' album. 'Sitting In The Midday Sun' could have sat quite easily in the middle of that particular Kinks album, without problems. That these three Kinks highlights have been overlooked or ignored through the years amazes me, quite frankly. They are Kinks songs of the highest order.

    Elsewhere here, we get a more operatic and theatrical updating of the sound of both 'Muswell Hillbillies' and 'Everybody's In Showbiz'. 'One Of The Survivors' is a highlight, a nice little rocking Kinks tune. Sung by 'Johnny Thunder and Chorus', this one. For that, read Ray Davies and various people on backing vocals. 'There's A Change In The Weather' is a delightfully off-the-cuff kind of Kinks song, a very english sentiment expressed within the lyrics. A few songs here, inevitably given the fact Ray seemingly wrote 35 to 40 new songs within a 6 week period, don't quite thrill as they might have done. Yet, these songs, songs such as 'Money & Corruption', songs that merely serve the 'Preservation' story-line, aren't as bad as the weakest moments from 'Everybody's In Showbiz'. At least all of the songs here seem to have a purpose. So, yes. Believe it or not, 'Preservation Act 1' is a good, satisfying Kinks album project. It's something to be enjoyed, rather than sneered at.

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    John Harvey skodaman@phonecoop.coop
    A marvellous page on The Kinks. The most extraordinary band ever, and I think Ray's talent fully matched Bod Dylan's on your side of the pond. How right you are to celebrate the Preservation discs. I don't think anyone has quite managed to catch The Kinks' sound, and Preservation gives a clue as to why. Ray was the best writer of pop melody, and songs such as "Sitting in the Midday Sun" and "Where is Love?" show why. But he was also an extraordinary innovator: I know nothing in pop music (except perhaps Tom Waits) which sounds remotely like "Second Hand Car Spiv" or the song which precedes it, "Scum of the Earth." Had he been listening to Kurt Weill or something? This isn't rock opera either-it's lighter and far more entertaining than "Tommy" or any of the stuff Queen pumped out. Perhaps it's rock musical. Robbie Williams, Oasis et al have produced creeking replicas of The Beatles, and the Stones' imitators are legion. "Preseravtion" takes a lot of listening, and it's ! difficult because it's not really like pop music. The original opening with the chorus and "Morning Song" is beautiful, and really does give the feeling of sunrise, people opening their windows, getting ready for the day. Ray had blurred the lines between pop and classical before (think of the lovely fade on "Phenomenal Cat" and the arrangement for "Village Green"), but here he crosses into new territory. A lot of the bands which followed-Queen, Supertramp, 10CC-owe a lot to these two recordings.

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    Preservation Act 2 ( 1974 )
    Announcement / Introduction To Solution / When A Solution Comes / Money Talks / Announcement / Shepards Of The Nation / Scum Of The Earth / Second Hand Car Spiv / He's Evil / *Mirror Of Love / Announcement / Nobody Gives / Oh Where Oh Where Is Love? / Flash's Dream / Flash's Confession / Nothing Lasts Forever / Announcement / Artificial Man / Scrapheap City / Announcement / *Salvation Road

    Do you ever get the feeling you've been had? 'Preservation Act 2' on the face of it is more cohesive than the first album. Then again, is it more cohesive? True, 'Act 2' is closer to Ray's original vision for the 'Preservation' project. It's just a shame the bulk of the best material went onto the first album, rather than the second. Ray was writing a ridiculous amount of the material at the time, granted. As he and The Kinks were putting together this project, Ray was already writing material for another project which eventually evolved into The Kinks 'Soap Opera' album. The public perception of The Kinks is they jumped the shark as soon as the sixties ended. The reality isn't quite like that. The Kinks sound had been evolving, and that evolution began with 'Arthur' back in 1968. Now we reach 1974, we have a Kinks bloated with trumpet players, female backing vocalists, keyboard players, string sections, etc, etc. Married to a Ray Davies having trouble with his personal life and quickly and prolifically writing songs as if that was the only central point of safety his life actually had. No matter what The Kinks line-up actually was, when the songs are good, they live upto the Kinks rich legacy. When the material is bad or throwaway however, grumbles about the manner in which these songs were recorded are thrown into the light. Yet, but, etc, etc. 'Preservation Act 2' which initially sounds like one great big mediocre mess without many redeeming features eventually resembles a brave attempt at something genuinely ambitious by The Kinks. True, the execution may not have quite been there, but hidden amongst the little sections of narrative and occasional decorative filler, are a couple or three or more songs that are actually very good indeed.

    I'll pick on some of the highlights here. It really is a shame the album was split into two acts, one double album containing the best of the two albums would really be right up there with The Kinks best. Still, 'Nothing Lasts Forever' contrasts ray's syrupy voice with a female vocalist, trading lines here and there. It's a very touching and a beautiful track. 'Mirror Of Love' borders on the ridiculous, but ultimately this 20s/30s music-hall themed track, crossed with the glam-rock of the day wins through thanks to the songs superior charm and way with melody. Great vocal from Ray in particular. 'Introduction To Solution' is one of the better uptempo songs and features more cool performances from Ray and the rest of The Kinks at the time. The closing track, which I suppose attempts to bring the 'Preservation' project to some kind of conclusion, is a nice uplifting and catchy piece of writing. Add in such enjoyable pieces as the occasional beautiful and occasionally folky 'Where Is Love?' and 'Preservation Act 2' becomes an album that really does grow on you. It wasn't an album that sold in any quantity and critics continue to slam the project seemingly more out of habit than anything else, yet those with the patience to persist with the album(s) and fully enter the world of Ray Davies' 'Preservation' will find much to enjoy.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    for the most part, i agree with adrian's comments. it's a bit of a mish mash of an album, and has a kitsch, cheesy "wolfie smith" vibe going on at times, but it's better than you might imagine. 7/10.

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    A Soap Opera 6 ( 1974 )
    Everybody's A Star / Ordinary People / Rush Hour Blues / Nine To Five / When Work Is Over / *Have Another Drink / Underneath The Neon Sign / Holiday Romance / You Make It All Worthwhile / *Ducks On The Wall / A Face In The Crowd / You Can't Stop The Music

    Ray Davies and his concept albums that sold progressively less! Well, who can stop a man with a mission? Perhaps he'd been a man with foresight and seen what 'Tommy' would do for The Who, eg, immortality! If I was him, I'd be happier with my lot, as 'Tommy' is like an albatross around the neck of Pete Townshend and co, but there you are. As for 'A Soap Opera', unlike the more ambitious 'Preservation', I don't really care to get behind the story. Well, there are familiar Ray Davies stardom elements, the usual dip into everyday life. The unusual pedestrian musical backing, each album released in the seventies seemingly a step away from the genius eccentricity that had been a hallmark of his best sixties writing. Which isn't to say of course that 'A Soap Opera' is a bad album. The lyrics are quality, a quality that Ray Davies usually does provide us with, happily. And you know, the opening 'Everybodys A Star' is a happy slice of decent pop music. It was never gonna be a single that could rival the likes of Sweet, who were absolutely awful for the most part, but then, I think Ray had given up all of that. Stupidly, because one sure fire written to order hit single per album probably would have done him a lot of good! Oh, I like 'Holiday Romance', Ray sings it in a silly voice, the musical hall victorian english feel returns. Bar the occasional slip into base trying to be American, 'A Soap Opera' does indeed remain a very English record by a very English band. So, that's good for The Kinks, I feel.

    We have a bunch of songs here that are all of a certain minimum quality, 'Rush Hour Blues' seeming to be something akin to 'Muswell Hillbillies' before it descends into, well, soap opera, to fit the concept. 'Ordinary People' is disappointing, being a tired something that's, well, embarassing to listen to, quite frankly. Well, would you play it to your non-kinks knowing friends as an example of what a good band they are? Of course you wouldn't. We move onto 'Ducks On The Wall' which is some kind of enjoyable blues stomper, complete with very good Ray lyrics, so that's fine. 'Have Another Drink' is good, yet quite simply the kind of thing we'd heard the group do better before. Still, credit where credit is due. The Kinks ploughed on under the leadership of Ray Davies, more so during this period than any other, as i'm not sure the others had the gumption, or should I say the courage, to stand against some of his ideas that perhaps weren't as good as they should be.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    it's embarrasing stuff. the kind of concept more akin to a spontanious crackerjack sketck, or a very lame, late period, goodies episode. this is a bridge too far in terms of ray's concept albums. i really like "a face in the crowd". just like the beautiful "god's children" on the hideous "percy", it deserves a more worthy piece of vinyl to display its quality. "ducks on the wall" and "underneath the neon sign" are actually quite good, after a few listens, but they're the only positives i can find here. 6 is way too generous adrian. "a soap opera"? "a shit opera" more like. thankfully things would improve with a surprisingly impressive venture into stadium rock, a few years later. 4/10.

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    Schoolboys In Disgrace ( 1975 )
    Schooldays / Jack The Idiot Dunce / Education / *The First Time We Fall In Love / I'm In Disgrace / Headmaster / The Hard Way / The Last Assembly / No More Looking Back / Finale

    He couldn't let it lie, could he? Mr Ray Davies still saw fit to turn in a further concept album to a by now totally exasperated RCA Records, who soon in turn, saw fit to let The Kinks go. We do have a few promising musical signs on this LP, although the lyrics and concept do tend to get in the way. I suppose it's fine if you look back on your schooldays as some kind of heavenly state, or indeed, any state worth fit to reminisce about. Personally, I don't. Ignoring that, these type of almost specialist lyrics are bound to restrict the overall appeal of the LP. Subjects The Kinks previously covered had some level of universal appeal. It's that universal appeal, and sense of humour as well, The Kinks of the 70s struggled to reach. Having said that, I suppose 'Jack The Idiot Dunce' is some kind of attempt at humour, or at least, novelty. Deliberately nostalgic sounding rock n roll with quite frankly silly lyrics that only manage to annoy, rather than raise a smile. A band like the kinks should really have more class about them. I'll speak of some positives to contrast these annoying aspects. 'Headmaster' starts with lovely pretty piano and affecting Ray lyrics. The song sounds very promising, until the chorus is reached and the story progresses to revolve around, to no surprise at all given the songs title, a headmaster and being victimised, etc and so forth. To be honest, I don't listen to the lyrics too closely. Still, a word for the guitar that pops up here and there, genuinely impressive in places. Another positive however, the daft doo-wop 50s throwback that is 'The First Time We Fall In Love'. I hinted at The Kinks lacking a certain deftness of touch earlier in the review? 'The First Time We Fall In Love' has that touch. It falls just the right side of the line. It works.

    The third song on this thirty six minute long album is a seven minute long epic of sorts titled 'Education'. I can't stand the thing, it's a mini musical in seven straining minutes, the entire concept of the album condensed, if that's the right word to use, into a single song. Ray did this type of thing immensely better just a few years earlier with the 'Preservation' single. Thankfully, with the possible exception of 'Jack The Idiot Dunce', nothing else here descends the depths of the dregs. 'I'm In Disgrace' is an entertaining little accomplished rocker, as is 'The Hard Way'. A few more ballads arrive before the fairly worthless reprise of 'Finale' that tries to conclude an attempted song-cycle that never really flies as a song cycle. 'Schoolboys In Disgrace' would be all the better without any concept, and a different title, and a few different songs. Sounds like I hate it? Of course I don't. Half of this album is a progression from 'Soap Opera' at least. Half a good album is better than a slap in face, so I cautiously give this entire set an average kind of '6.5' out of '10'.

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    Lee Foster Thebeestonpoet@aol.com
    i agree with u on one point EDUCATION is the worst song on the album . even though it is slightly catchy . it just seems like a song that never gets off the ground . an seems like such a waste of time that they made it into such a huge production.but i would go as far as to say i hated the song . however the rest of the album to me sounds absolutely brilliant . SCHOOLDAYS great vocal .good lyrics .i honestly love every song on this album an recomend it too anyone . it really is impressive an to my ears it is one of there very best albums . musically i think it is a real treat an has so many killer riffs an massive songs that are BIG an MIGHTY . HEADMASTER . CHORUS is just too damn good lol.. but so is the whole album . sometimes funny amusing . but never too cheesey . which is a rarity 4 a kinks album..VILLAGE GREEN to me is rubbish apart from about 2 songs . id say it was the 70s when the kinks came into peak . vocally . it is terrific . an has ray trying to sing thru h! is nose an his stomack on ballads like LAST ASMEMBLY . which in its own right is breathtaking an great ..discovering this album is like discovering a treasure chest. love it . lee

    Christos casild@aol.com
    I adore this album. The concept works very nicely for me. Lyrics are also fanastic, in my opinion. (They are a huge part of what makes this album so quaint and touching.) From the opening track - Schooldays - to Finale, this is one of the few Kinks albums I can (and usually do) listen to straight through. Two of my top 10 all time Kinks songs are on this album - Headmaster (absolutely rocks!) and No More Looking Back (another rocker - I'm shocked it hasn't been lauded here). I rate this 9/10.

    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    A low 7, as opposed to a 6.5, forgive me for splitting hairs on that one... "No More Looking Back" is close to perfection, amazing electric piano, great mix of rhythm and lead playing side by side by Dave, and Ray's measured paranoia, not to mention the precise production, a Kinks' classic, and indeed classic FULL STOP. Much of the rest follows the same vein as previous albums, although works mildly better because of the world weary perspective Ray injects back into the music, instead of his previous sensationalism and half hearted satire. "I'm In Disgrace" is a great little rocker which Dave obviously enjoys playing, and "The First Time We Fall In Love" is my guilty pleasure here. 7/10.

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    Sleepwalker ( 1977 )
    Life On The Road / Mr Big Man / Sleepwalker / Brother / *Juke Box Music / Sleepless Night / *Stormy Sky / Full Moon / Life Goes On

    The Kinks sign to Arista records and immediately sell more albums than they ever did whilst signed to RCA Records. Partly at the behest of their new label, 'Sleepwalker' sees The Kinks return somewhat back to basics. This album is a collection of unrelated and semi related songs without a particular unifying concept. Are we glad about that? Oh yes, boy are we glad, not since 'Muswell Hillbillies' had we enjoyed anything like a regular release from The Kinks. To put it bluntly, it was about bloody time. Dave remembers that he's a guitar player, and judging from his playing on this one LP alone, we can deduce he's a 'not bad at all' lead guitar player. Elsewhere, The Kinks sound a like a band. Professional rhythm section, those tasty Dave Davies guitar licks and Ray topping off this tasty recipe with his trademark lyrical proficiency and syrupy vocals. 'Mr Big Man' is a proper stadium rock tune with especially heavy rock sounding fretwork from Dave. The album as a whole, even though it ditches theatrical elements and a lot of the humour of earlier Kinks works, doesn't actually rock-out very much at all. Ray never lost his knack of writing touching, affecting ballads, you see. So, 'Sleepwalker' presents us with half an album of ballads, a quarter an album of uptempo tunes with a few mid-tempo plodders thrown in for good measure. But, what's this? 'Brother' is a slow affecting ballad that sounds like The Kinks were inspired by their own earlier material. Makes a change from inspiring punk/new wave groups like The Jam and The Pretenders, doesn't it? And, what's this? 'Jukebox Music' is bouncy, catchy and uptempo and soundwise, could almost pass itself off as a 'Muswell Hillbillies' era Kinks tune. It's not as good, but its in that same general ballpark. So, that's good! Even more so, what's this? 'Sleepless Night' sounds like Steely Dan. It does, trust me!

    'Sleepwalker' is a solid collection of songs, polished songs with slick, commercial and contemporary for the day production. 'Stormy Sky' for instance, all edges have been softened to the point where the song could washover you without making an impression. Yet, repeated listens to the likes of 'Stormy Sky' and the album as a whole prove that Ray Davies hadn't entirely lost his writing chops. So, even without containing a single genuine ( or even semi-genuine? ) Kinks Klassik, 'Sleepwalker' remains an emminently listenable and pleasurable album experience on the whole. So there. Oh, an historical note. Whilst 'Sleepwalker' sold very well in the US, in the UK it failed to break the top 40. A ten year run stretching back all the way to 'Something Else' of not having a hit album? The Kinks deserved far better than that.

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    Misfits 7 ( 1978 )
    Misfits / Hay Fever / Black Messiah / Rock N Roll Fantasy / In A Foreign Land / Permanent Waves / Live Life / Out Of The Wardrobe / Trust Your Heart / Get Up

    "Hello you, hello me. Hello people we used to be". 'Misfits', an aptly titled Kinks album if ever there was one. The line quoted above is the opening lyric to 'Rock N Roll Fantasy', a musically sleek and lyrically charming highlight from The Kinks 'Misfits' LP. I understand it was a hit in the US, obviously it wasn't a hit in the UK. The Kinks homeland had long since discarded the group, despite the clearly contemporary and commercial sound of the likes of 'Rock N Roll Fantasy'. I mean, 'In A Foreign Land' is a genuinely effective little song, properly done and properly constructed with proper hooks. What was wrong with the UK music press anyway?!? Still, in the rest of the world, The Kinks still had pulling power and away from concept albums, Ray Davies married his intelligent songwriting to a calculated, considered and almost middle of the road sound. Perhaps it was fitting for the age of the guys in The Kinks at the time? After all, who wanted a Kinks disco album? A Kinks punk album? Well, half of The Stranglers were almost as old as The Kinks, but let's not go there just now. Ah, the title track here is very good. It’s no revolution, it didn’t and doesn’t invent anything and it lacks a single element of surprise. It’s just fine writing and fairly winning in terms of wanting to go back to it and listen again. ‘Permanent Waves’, with its chorus and faint hint of disco. Just a very faint hint of it, mind you. Dave gets to play a guitar solo and The Kinks sound utterly dignified throughout. The Kinks, stylistic changes over their lifetime included, rarely seemed to pander to whatever was fashionable at the time. How often do we old-timers discuss various mis-steps The Rolling Stones, Dylan or the solo Beatles made throughout the 70s and 80s? The Kinks, who made their own mistakes, at least didn’t make the same mistakes as everybody else!

    There are plenty of times during ‘Misfits’ I wish the album sounded a little rawer than it does. Plenty of times I wish The Kinks had recorded in a basement with an old eight track tape machine, jammed a little then put down the tracks, nice and easy first takes. Not to be. Strange though that ‘Hay Fever’ sounds like an eighties tune. The way it’s been arranged and recorded leaves spaces in-between the instrumentation. It’s a simple arrangement and the melodies are familiar and easy to grasp. A nod of nostalgia for certain harmony parts, The Kinks linking the 50s to the late 70s and unwittingly the early 80s. By that time, The Kinks themselves had changed again, embracing the technology of the age but not quite able to use it as everybody else did. Yet, that’s why we love them, isn’t it? As for the vast majority of ‘Misfits’, it’s a regular round peg in a round hole.... performed by a bunch of squares. It’s a terribly uninteresting record, even the interesting lyrics are well-worn Kinks themes. Still, it’s easy to appreciate nature earns this a healthy enough ‘7’. There’s nothing too bad here.

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    Low Budget ( 1979 )
    Attitude / Catch Me Now I'm Falling / Pressure / National Health / ( Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman / Low Budget / In A Space / Little Bit Of Emotion / A Gallon Of Gas / Misery / Moving Pictures

    Economic slowdown, queues for gas. General rundown of the country and The Kinks ignored in their homeland. Now based in the US, The Kinks somehow plug into the general feeling in the US at the time and go stadium. A well deserved American commercial breakthrough arrives with an album that sounds nothing like the groups finest 60s moments. In Britain, the groups actual homeland, nobody had paid any attention to them since 'Lola', not a single album had charted since 1966 or so. What was going on? Well, a new bass-player rejuvenated the group. Ray wrote a nifty set of hummable, less inteligent material and Dave played some of the best guitar lines ( if wholly unoriginal lines ) since their 60s finest. Nobody within the UK paid any attention again, but you can't have everything, can you? Anyhoo, inviting comparison with The Rolling Stones 'Some Girls' album, inviting comparison you understand, Dave comes up with 'Jumping Jack Flash', only the most famous riff of all time, and uses this Keith Richards riff liberally all over 'Catch Me Now I'm Falling'. For you see, the age of disco demanded groups update. Trying to sound both punk and disco was always going to be tricky, but The Kinks just about manage it, remarkably and far better than The Stones ever did. This isn't the finest set of songs The Kinks ever put out, but the songs all sound like tremendous fun! Easily the groups best and most fun album since 'Muswell Hillbillies'. That didn't sell at all, and this didn't sell within the UK but the Americans saw sense.

    The first three songs are all rocking and are all ace. 'Attitude', 'Jumping Jack Flash' and a strange backwards glance at the present in 'Pressure'. For a song that's the nearest they get to punk, it sounds very fifties. Appropriately really, because wasn't the seventies all about the fifties, really? Even punk used tried and test fifties riffs. 'National Health' combines Jamaica with Disco with punk and with Ray Davies. It's a catchy and a half song that I love. It's daft as Basil Brush but we don't mind that. 'I Wish I Could Fly' is stupendous and this is controversial in Kinks fandom circles? Disco, guitar. It's as if Scissor Sisters were actually good. Seriously, if this was released today, people would lap it up. It hasn't dated one day, because so many bands are trying to ape everything seventies/eighties anyway. For side two of the album, we get a massive highlight with 'Little Bit Of Emotion' which proves Ray could still write affecting material. He always was best with the ballads. The bluesy 'A Gallon Of Gas' is superb, the album is excellent and most unexpectedly so. Ray sings in rock voice for most of the time, the sound is utterly 100% removed from classic Kinks, but it's still good. Krackingly good Kinks Klassic and as many Ks without being racist as you can think of.

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    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Just read your review "even as we speak", Mr. Denning. I'm glad somebody holds this underrated humdinger in the same esteem I do. The Kinks greatest work was often their most overlooked, and "Low Budget" is a prime example. 8.5/10, hah! we agree exactly on a rating. :-) Nice work chum.

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    The Kinks / Kinda Kinks / Kinks Kontroversy 8 ( 2011 )

    I've already reviewed these three albums of course, but the latest re-issues gives me time to pause and reflect back. The first album 'Kinks' complete with assorted and generous bonus tracks shows the transformation of The Kinks from a combination of the kind of American rhythm and blues that was popular across the United Kingdom at the time, and a few clices of easily traceable (back to The Beatles) slices of generic love-songs in the making. This latest re-issue however does throw a fresh light onto the debut album proper - as do some of the bonus tracks, 'It's Alright' for instance reveals a red-hot rhythm section, something i'd managed to avoid commenting much upon before. Early incarnations of The Kinks had seen them go through a number of drummers but they only really stood any chance of being a professional rock outfit once they found bass-player Peter Quaife, a man who could drive the songs powerfully along in the background whilst allowing the Davies brothers to share the limelight front of stage.

    Early recordings are best forgotten, particularly 'Long Tall Sally', a mere weak parody of The Beatles version, complete with screaming and Beatles style 'whoas'. The likes of Cadillac' and 'Long Tall Shorty' are well-performed yet really barely distinguishable from what many, many other bands were doing at the time. In reality, The Kinks could have died there and then were it not for the promising writing talent of Ray Davies. Never really comfortable penning rockers, once they hit pay-dirt with 'You Really Got Me' it was natural they'd repeat the trick with 'All Day And All Of The Night'. 'Stop Your Sobbing' and 'Just Can't Go To Sleep' are something else altogether though, a shine of things to come and as different from the hit singles as it's possible to be. Much credit for those two hits should also be given to Dave Davies and his desire to get as loud and dirty a guitar sound as possible and the talents of producer Shel Tamy who, as a result of his work here, wound up producing the debut Who singles, 'My Generation' among them.

    The second album 'Kinda Kinks' showcases an ever improving group of musicians although sonically doesn't sound as powerful as the debut. Ray was apparently unhappy with the final mixes but whether by accident or design within the context of their entire catalogue it actually helps push the band further away from their early, obviously traceable rhythm and blues roots. Annoyingly, 'Kinda Kinks' could and should have ended up far better than it did, although even the officially released twelve track album is a notch ahead of the debut overall. Why? Well, just look at the bonus material, singles recorded around the same time or just after the album. Everybody's Gonna Be Happy, Who'll Be Next in Line, Set Me Free, I Need You, See My Friends, A Well Respected Man, Who'll Be The Next In Line, I Go to Sleep and This Strange Effect. The latter track was penned by Ray and given to Dave Berry who enjoyed a top 40 single with his version. Anyway, let's experiment. Original album vs imaginary potential album.

    Look for Me Baby / Got My Feet on the Ground / Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl / Naggin' Woman / Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight / Tired of Waiting for You / Dancing in the Street / Don't Ever Change / Come On Now / So Long / You Shouldn't Be Sad / Something Better Beginning


    Look For Me Baby / Got My Feet On The Ground / Tired Of Waiting For You / See My Friends / Everybody's Gonna Be Happy / Something Better Beginning / I Need You / Who'll Be The Next In Line / A Well Respected Man / Set Me Free / I Go To Sleep

    'A Well Respected Man' in particular is Ray Davies in full flow with a story-telling style that would begin to dominate the kind of songs The Kinks would soon begin to focus upon. 'Kinks Kontroversy' was their second album of 1965 and joining the above material were further classics such as 'Til The End Of The Day', 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone', 'Ring The Bells', 'Dedicated Follower Of Fashion', 'Sittin On My Sofa' and 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else'. Apart from that, we have the finest ever Kinks rhythm and blues stomper 'Milk Cow Blues', a track that by itself renders much of their 1964 debut album redundant. Despite a few slices of filler, 'Kinks Kontroversy' was arguably their most rounded LP to date and if you buy all three of these re-issues you get something like 140 Kinks tracks to enjoy, well worth it i'd have thought.

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    Give The People What They Want 6 ( 1981 )
    Around the Dial / Give the People What They Want / Killer's Eyes / Predictable / Add It Up / Destroyer / Yo-Yo / Back to Front / Art Love / A Little Bit of Abuse / Better Things

    The 18th Kinks album kicks off in typical heavy-rock American style, the band sounding utterly different to the glory days of the Sixties. Dave Davies shines with the guitar, proving he could fit into this idiom. He even includes a few heavy-metal style guitar solos and adequate they are too. The rhythm section are a little too pub-rock for my liking, although they do keep up with the overall energy. Ray sings most of the songs when for instance, the title track may have benefitted from Dave's grittier style of vocal. We can guess the influences, I may be totally wrong. Ray was listening to punk, Dave was listening to Iron Maiden and American heavy rock bands. The result is a very un-kinks like record. 'Destroyer' sees the Kinks ripping off their own 'I Really Got Me' in punk/new-wave style yet the recording and production is all wrong. Dave is too professional, the whole band are. The sound of the record isn't gritty and dirty enough for this style of music,. The first song that sounds like Ray Davies was flowing with his own juice (uggh!) is 'Yo-Yo', a simple song without the rock histrionics of the other songs. It's got good words, it wouldn't sound out of place on a Pretenders album, funnily enough. I say this knowing the latter half of the track sounds like a preview of Bon Jovi, some two/three years later.

    'Back To Front' is ZZ Top crossed with an idiot, some feat! 'Art Lover' on the otherhand mentions the words 'Sunday' and 'Afternoon' in the first few seconds and sounds like a genuine Ray led song, rather than Dave 'let's be AC/DC' song. Also funnily enough, 'Art Lover' sounds intelligent enough to be an Elvis Costello song and the music is similarly simple. 'A Little Bit Of Abuse' sounds like Ray fronting an American hard-rock pick-up band. What's the point? Closing with pretending to be British new-wave 'Better Things' just emphasizes the schizophrenic nature of the entire LP, not a bad one. It just doesn't flow, it's the sound of two different bands at the same time and also the production is far too clean for what The Kinks are attempting here.

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    State Of Confusion 8 ( 1983 )
    State Of Confusion / Definite Maybe / Labour Of Love / Come Dancing / Property / Don't Forget To Dance / Young Conservatives / Heart Of Gold / Clichés Of The World (B Movie) / Bernadette

    Ten new Kinks songs on disc, recorded between January and March, 1983. 'Come Dancing' rose all the way up the charts in the US to peak at number 6, their biggest hit over there since the 60s. In the UK, it was only a moderate hit, but did raise renewed interest in a band many casual music fans had thought split up after the release of 'Lola' back in 1970. As far as chart success in the UK, The Kinks had dropped entirely off the radar and, listening to the State Of Confusion album, if the last Kinks LP you'd bought was 'Lola', must have come as one hell of a shock and disappointment. For contemporary music fans, The Kinks were a relic, new music neither rock or synth-pop/new-wave. Credit to Ray Davies and The Kinks - their late 70s, early 80s US success was hard-won, years of touring and working hard and releasing album after album kept them alive. The sound had evolved over the years to focus on Dave Davies increasingly AOR rock sound and Ray Davies continuing to enjoy modern music. Unlike their 60s rivals The Rolling Stones, or The Who, you didn't really even get a nod towards The Kinks own illustrious past. Well, 'Come Dancing' lyrically was nostalgic and the kind of story-telling we'd forgotten Ray could do so very wonderfully. The song revolves around a synth/organ melody, and not a guitar melody but the instrumental break two minutes in features a top-notch Dave moment and acoustic Ray strumming away. It's nearly a perfect song, all told, and yes does overshadow the rest of the LP, if only because 'Come Dancing' and 'Don't Forget To Dance', the other US hit from the record are atypical of the set .

    'Property' sounds very 80s but the keyboard work is good, simple and melodic. The title track opens the set with electric guitar, Kinks in 80s Rock mode, Dave sings album closer, the ZZ Top styled 'Bernadette', at least that what it sounds like to my cloth-ears. 'Clichés Of The World' is fascinating, the drums a little simple for my liking, yet Ray pens a quality set of lyrics and the guitar sounds modern for the day - melodies abound. 'Definite Maybe' is a cool song, easy guitar riffs, great keys and a decent pace. What else? Well, not much, none of the songs are actively bad, in that sense this is the most consistent set of tunes The Kinks had put out in over ten years at the time, I should think. If you did jump straight from classic Kinks to confusion, then forget who you are listening to for a moment and give the album a spin or three, you'll soon I hope, come to realise its qualities.

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    this page last updated 03/06/13

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