46. The Kinks

The Kinks are a rock band from London, England. Founded by brothers Ray and Dave Davies, the Kinks began their career playing American rhythm and blues, like many British Invasion bands of the early sixties. Their recording career started slowly, but their third single, 1964’s “You Really Got Me”, was a smash hit, topping the charts in Britain and going top ten in America.

After a similar follow-up song (“All Day And All Of The Night”) and a handful of relatively typical pop songs, Ray Davies began to hit his stride as a songwriter, creating dozens of witty, concise songs with a distinct British flavor. Davies is the first popular songwriter to make overt references to homosexuality, though his sharp observations cover a broad pallet of subjects, from schoolboy jealousy to longing for old love, and especially to British ruling class hypocrisy. Most of all, Kinks songs get your toes tapping and are fun to sing along with.

As young men, the Kinks were volatile. They were banned from performing in America for several years in the mid-sixties. Despite their difficult relationship, Ray and Dave Davies soldiered on for many years after the glory days of the sixties, into a second fertile period in the late seventies and early eighties. Dave suffered a stroke in 2004, and bassist Pete Quaife passed away in 2010. The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990.

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Ray Davies (b. 1944), guitar, vocals, primary songwriter
Dave Davies (b. 1947), guitar, vocals
Pete Quaife (1943-2010), bass, guitar
Mick Avory (b. 1944), drums

Biography of The Kinks on Wikipedia
KindaKinks.net — Excellent Unofficial Kinks Website
Daily Mail Article on the Feuding Davies Brothers
Rule Forty Two Website: Why were the Kinks banned from the U.S. in the Sixties?

Long Live Victoria

In the late sixties, the Kinks were featured regularly on AM radio. Still, Mom purchased the only 45 single I ever wanted, “Victoria” in 1969. Many years later, I purchased a copy of Schoolboys In Disgrace in a used record store, so I could have a copy of “No More Looking Back”. These two songs remain among my favorites.

In the Wikipedia description of “Victoria”, the following observation is made:

“In the satirical style that Ray Davies had become known for, the lyrics juxtapose the grim realities of life in Britain during the 19th century with the paternalist aspirations of the British Empire in the Victorian age, and expresses the simple adulation of Queen and country by the downtrodden working class.”

Among the happiest sounds I’ve ever heard, it’s also the most patriotic of songs; listening to it several times this past month only reinforces its brilliance. It rocks with great syncopation and tension, and its lyrics ring true today.

“I was born, lucky me,
In a land that I love,
Though I am poor, I am free,
When I grow I shall fight,
For this land I shall die,
Let her sun never set.
Victoria, victoria, victoria, toria!
Victoria, victoria, victoria, toria!”

— Ray Davies

A Gaping Hole In iTunes

Early Kinks music was hard to acquire in America, and sold poorly. Fifty years later, iTunes has not rectified the problem, a gaping hole in their library. Come on iTunes, make the deal, so everybody can hear these classic rock songs. (As of March, 2015, a compilation called Classics: The Best of the Kinks exists, with this recommendation: “The best advice is to pick up Kinks material as it becomes available, ensuring it’s in your possession should it suddenly disappear from the catalog.”)

In the last dozen or so years I have filled out my collection with a couple of greatest hits compilations. This CD, available on Amazon.com, is highly recommended.

Amazon.com Link to “The Kinks — Ultimate Collection”

Blues Music → You Really Got Me

Here are a couple of examples of blues songs covered by The Kinks:

“Milk Cow Blues” Live on YouTube

A recognized pop standard, “You Really Got Me” is considered one of the first songs to use power chords, and is an antecedent of modern heavy metal and hard rock music.

L-O-L-A Lola

A song about a transvestite.

I Want To Live Like An Apeman

I think I’m so educated and I’m so civilized ‘cos I’m a strict vegetarian,
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation and the crazy politicians,
I don’t feel safe in this world no more,
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war,
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man.

— Ray Davies

No More Looking Back

I have trouble letting go. I don’t move on easily. There isn’t a single reference guide which makes mention of “No More Looking Back”. I don’t understand why.

“But lately I’ve been going to,
All the places that we once knew,
And just when I think that I am free of you,
I keep seeing the things that remind me of you,
And just when I think you’re out of my head,
I hear a song that you sang or see a book that you read.
Then you’re in every bar, you’re in every café,
You’re driving every car, I see you everyday,
But you’re not really there ‘cos you belong to yesterday.

No more looking back,
No more living in the past,
Yesterday’s gone and that’s a fact,
Now there’s no more looking back.
Gonna to be hard,
Yeah, look straight ahead.
That’s the only way it’s going to be,
Yesterday’s gone and that’s a fact,
Now there’s no more looking back.

— Ray Davies

To complete an appreciation of Ray Davies, a master minimalist of musical lyrics, here are performances with Davies playing two of his songs without the band.

Kinks Song Notes:

1. The suggested live performances are found on BBC Sessions: 1964-1977.

2. “See My Friends” is one of the first Western pop songs to mimic the drone of Indian music.

Kinks Songs:

You Really Got Me, The Kinks ✭✭✭✭
Lola, The Kinks ✭✭✭✭
Victoria, The Kinks ✭✭✭✭

No More Looking Back, The Kinks ✭✭✭
Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, The Kinks ✭✭✭
Sunny Afternoon, The Kinks ✭✭✭
A Well Respected Man, The Kinks ✭✭✭
All Day And All Of The Night, The Kinks ✭✭✭
You Really Got Me (Live), The Kinks ✭✭✭
I’m Not Like Everybody Else, The Kinks ✭✭✭
All Day And All Of the Night (Live), The Kinks ✭✭✭

Waterloo Sunset, The Kinks ✭✭
David Watts, The Kinks ✭✭
Who’ll Be The Next In Line, The Kinks ✭✭
Till The End Of The Day (Live), The Kinks ✭✭
Celluloid Heroes (Live), The Kinks ✭✭
Apeman, The Kinks ✭✭
Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy, The Kinks ✭✭
Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy (Live), The Kinks ✭✭

See My Friends, The Kinks
Stop Your Sobbing, The Kinks
Tired Of Waiting For You, The Kinks
Days, The Kinks
Destroyer, The Kinks
Juke Box Music, The Kinks
Milk Cow Blues (Live), The Kinks
Come Dancing, The Kinks
Dandy, The Kinks
Set Me Free, The Kinks
I Gotta Move, The Kinks
Till the End Of The Day, The Kinks
Here Come The People In Grey, The Kinks
She’s Got Everything, The Kinks
Shangri-La, The Kinks
Celluloid Heroes, The Kinks

Related Songs:

Dandy, Herman’s Hermits

You Really Got Me, Van Halen

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