When I 1st heard The Kinks on the radio, round about 1971, 4 some reason I thot they were Mexican. Or Spanish.
Not really sure I can Xplain how I got that impression. But listen 2 the way Ray Davies sings "All Day and All of the Night" -- like he can't quite get the words out, like he's learned English as a 2nd language. But this effect mighta bn due 2 primitive production techniques.
"Lola" didn't clear things up 4 me, either. If NEthing, it just got me more confused. "You Really Got Me" didn't help, either. Again, the direct, almost crude production by Shel Talmy emphasizes the force & push of the guitars -- they're not really "heavy" as we would later define the term, more like a controlled Xplosion. In some almost indefineable way, The Kinks were "spicier," more energetic, than a lotta music of the same period. There was Something Different going on there.
If I'd heard "Victoria" at that point it woulda cleared everything up 4 me, but I didn't hear it until YEARS later....
I don't think I actually got my facts straight until 5 years later when I read John Mendelssohn's Kinks reviews in THE ROLLING STONE RECORD REVIEW VOLUME II. & by the time The Pretenders came along with "Stop Your Sobbing," I at least knew who Ray Davies WAS, tho there were a lot of his songs I'd never heard. Still haven't.
Fast-4ward 2 my Record Store Daze: We played the heck outta The Kinks' LOW BUDGET, which had a few decent songs on it -- "National Health" was probly my fave: "Nervous tension, man's invention, is the biggest killer that's around today...," continuing with some funny advice on how 2 keep your stress down. But tho there were a couple of catchy tunes like the disco takeoff "I Wish I Could Fly Like Superman" & the down&dirty title track, with only a couple of Xceptions it wasn't Xactly ... uh ... charming. "Little Bit of Emotion" sounded the most like the real Ray, talking about how often people hide & only let little bits of themselves peek out 4 others 2 see.
We also played the heck outta their double-live album ONE FROM THE ROAD, from which a scattering of tracks caught my attn, tho a lot of it seemed really sloppy. The live version of "Lola" didn't do NEthing 4 me, but "Victoria" was an absolute killer anthem with great crunchy gtr riffs & Brother Dave whooping it up in the background. Ditto 4 "David Watts" -- the only problem w/ both these songs was that they were TOO SHORT.
Then there was the moody "Misfits" & the flat-out gorgeous "Celluloid Heroes." & who could resist Ray's use of Harry Belafonte's "Day-O"? I was starting 2 think these guys might B worth looking in2.
Couple years later The Kinks had a "comeback" of sorts, with nostalgic hits like "Come Dancing" & "Don't Forget to Dance" & "Do it Again," + I remember hearing the title track from STATE OF CONFUSION quite a bit. But it wasn't until AFTER this that I started digging in2 their old stuff.
I started with THE KINK KRONIKLES, a 2-record set of mostly 4gotten trax from their middle period. There I found the marvelous original version of "Victoria" + the modest & charming acoustic "Village Green Preservation Society." But there was a lot more: the sublime "Shangri-La," which Ray sings the choruses of like his heart's gonna jump outta his chest; the depressing-yet-charming(?) "Dead End Street"; the silly & irresistable "Apeman" -- why was this never a hit?! The choruses alone shoulda locked it in2 the Top 10.... There was the equally silly "Sunny Afternoon," which I'd somehow overlooked. Ray sounds pretty relaxed 4 a guy who's sposta B all stressed-out about his marital breakup.... Oh, & "Lola" was on it, 2....
There were a few trax I didn't quite get: Lotsa critics hail "Waterloo Sunset" as something like the most beautiful 45 RPM single in the history of the English language.... While I think it's a clear Dpiction of Ray's more introverted side, I can't get Xcited about it. Just doesn't strike me as a lost classic. ...& "Autumn Almanac" is just silly.
Ghod knows I'm not done Xploring them yet. I was a sucker 4 "Tired of Waiting for You" back when I was about 12, & over the years I've adopted others that I was 2 young 2 notice the 1st time around: "A Well Respected Man," the silly "Dedicated Follower of Fashion"....
Somewhere around here I've got a 2-disc set of Kinks singles I've gotta get 2. Looks pretty complete. & the VILLAGE GREEN album, which I wanna set aside some time 4. All I've heard is the opening title track. If it's all that good, it'll B worth the time.
I haven't actually heard all that much by these guys, but it's intresting how their best stuff really sticks with you. More soon, quite likely....