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Old 05-04-2009, 11:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
Piss Me Off
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: At the corner of Dude and Catastrophe
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Nominated by Waspstar and The Monkey

The Kinks



1967 was a dramatic year in music. Jimi Hendrix, through the Monterey Pop Festival, became the biggest superstar in America since Elvis, thus putting a definite end to the first British Invasion. Mick Jagger was forced to sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” on Ed Sullivan. The Who countered their wild stage behaviour with increasingly complex studio albums, and released The Who Sell Out. The Beatles released their most acclaimed album to date, Sgt. Peppers. A Scott McKenzie became the anthem for the Summer of Love, the biggest event in the hippie movement second only to Woodstock.

The world was had never seemed so bright, and the youth were more optimistic and idealistic than ever before. Through music, art and a big amount of pot, they would change the world by bringing forward uncomplicated messages of peace and love. The old had to go, a new era had arrived.

That year, the last steam-powered trains in England was about to be replaced by electric locomotives. This, quite naturally, went ignored by nearly everyone on the music scene. Who, after all, cared about some olds trains when a world revolution of love was taking place? One band did: The Kinks. They recorded a song about it the following year.

The Kinks’ genius and driving force lay with singer-songwriter Ray Davies, who wrote the vast majority of the band’s songs. His brother Dave was guitarist and wrote a few songs for the band. Drummer Mick Avory and bassist Pete Quaife completed the early line-up.

The Kinks formed in 1963 and soon reached success with a series of singles, notably “You Really Got Me”, “All Day And All Of The Night” and “Tired of Waiting for You”, the first hit songs ever to be build around power chords. The band continued to release songs in the same protopunk vein for the next couple of years, although they were constantly in the shadow of contemporary British bands such as the Beatles, the Stones or the Who.

In 1965 something of great importance to the bands musical directions occurred: they were banned from performing in the Unites States for reasons to this day undisclosed. This had two major effects. One, their commercial success in the US over the next years was obviously dampened. Two, the musical direction of the band changed dramatically as a result of being cut off from influences from the American R&B and soul. Ray’s songwriting here attained a uniquely English, often nostalgic, flavour, drawing heavy influences from English music hall traditions. The band’s stylistic change was first evident with the singles “A Well Respected Man” and “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”. The character study and social commentary theme in these singles would continue throughout the band’s career.

The following four years, the band was at their artistic peak. The albums “Face to Face”, “Something Else by The Kinks”, “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” and “Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)” all showcase the very best of Ray’s writing, with Something Else being my personal favourite. The four most famous singles from this time are probably “Sunny Afternoon”, “Dead End Street”, “Waterloo Sunset” and “Days”. Their last big hit came in 1970 with the single “Lola”.

At a time when focus of the music scene was on Hindu traditions, Marxist writings and world revolutions, The Kinks was writing about the poverty and misery found in England’s lower classes. In many cases the living standard hadn’t improved much since WWII, a fact often forgotten when looking back at the 60’s. But Ray Davies did not forget those people in his songs, and The Kinks’ music is in my opinion the very best examples how brilliant and meaningful lyrics can be combined with beautiful and touching melodies.

The song that to me best symbolizes what The Kinks is all about is probably Dead End Street from 1966:



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Apart from releasing some of the great albums of the 1960's (Village Green & Something Else), they were a killer singles band (You Really Got Me, Set Me Free, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, Dead End Street). They weren't limited to one basic style as most of their contemporaries were and managed to create some of the most abrasive, raw, rocking songs ever recorded as well as some of the most beautiful.
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