Saturday, 22 December 2007

Mark Mikel's compact guide to The Kinks

Mark Mikel's quick guide to The Kinks

I know Andy Partridge thinks that "Autumn Almanac" is the greatest song ever written and I can't argue that.The main thing about the Kinks for me is "songwriting." Ray writes songs that speak to me deeper than any other group ever. No one can touch him-lyrically. Now throw in these fantastic catchy melodies to accent the incredibly strong lyrics and you have me in a stranglehold. Then the voices. Ray and Dave Davies together have a magical sound and Ray is one of rock's greatest singers. Ray somehow keeps the sugar of British pop in his voice while simultaneously keeping an authenticity along the lines of Hank Williams or Bob Dylan. And he knows how to melt it right into the song perfectly. I love how they build their backing vocals throughout the songs-ala "Lola."The music is sweet guitar riffs and chord changes mixed with the occasional piano, organ or harpsichord. Mick Avory's drumming is complete badass.Another reason they appeal to me is they are rock and roll's greatest underdogs. They rarely follow trends of any kind and that's why their career keeps diving straight back into the dumpster. Everytime they've had a success it was considered a comeback. They have a curse of their own. I guess I can relate to that, yes?Yes, their sound quality is questionable. The 60's albums up to (but not including) "Lola vs Powerman and the Money-go-Round" sound very overcompressed and garage-y. Just like the early Who albums. Not surprising since both bands were produced by Shel Talmy. But the song itself, in those early records, still reigns supreme. I actually enjoy the charm of those semi-Lo-Fi albums.That's not the case with their 80's/90's albums. I find that production quality way too annoying to even hear the songs. So if you're basing your opinion of the Kinks on those albums then I understand. But they did do that "To The Bone" album in the early 90's where they sit in the studio and perform many great songs for their friends. The 70's albums sound fine.
If you have heard these songs at least 3 times and still don't like them then there's not much I can say to change your mind.

Do You Remember Walter?- The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
Sitting in the Midday Sun- Preservation Act I
I'm Not Like Everybody Else (B-side to the "Sunny Afternoon" single) but appears as a bonus track on the re-issued "Face to Face" CD
Picture Book- The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

Waterloo Sunset- Something Else
Autumn Almanac- (single) but appears as a bonus track on the re-issued "Something Else" CD and can also be found on a GREAT kollection of Kinks songs called The Kink Kronikles

No More Looking Back. Here's one of my favorite Kinks songs ever:It's well recorded and The Kinks sound smooth.Pay close attention to the way the song builds. Dave's guitar harmonies are glorious. The lyrics are unbeatable because- who could possibly ever put this many genuine thoughts and feelings into a pop song and make them as catchy they are? Only Ray.From 1975 "Schoolboys in Disgrace" album

All you really need to do is listen to "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society" and if you don't agree they are the most catchy clever little pop songs ever then 60's Kinks just aren't for you, my friend. If you find yourself enjoying it then listen to "Something Else" and it will be just as magical or more.

20th Century Man- Muswell Hillbillies
Animal Farm- The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation
SocietyDreams- Percy
King Kong- (B-side of the "Plastic Man" single) appears as a bonus track on the re-issued "Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire" CD and The Kink Kronikles

Celluloid Heroes- Everybody's In Show Biz

I could go on and on but...I'm really amazed that my songwriting grabs people that don't like Ray's. I'm proud of it and yet find it a bit surreal. My whole life has been spent trying to even come close. Personally I don't feel like The Pillbugs or me ever touched that kind of greatness.You can put "Think Visual" and "UK Jive" in the back pile unless you're a big fan of bombastic 80's production. Songwriting is still great on those but the beauty is missing. If nothing happens then I would still try some 70's Kinks. "Sleepwalker" is a great one. I love every song on that album.

No comments: