Monday, February 8, 2010

#11 The Hidden Legends... The Kinks

When the Kinks first landed on the British music scene in 1964, they were following on the heels of groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but they were delving further into a frontier of Rock and Roll that was years ahead of its time. The Kinks were one of the early pioneers of both the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal genres. Throughout the years the band has changed members quite often except for brothers Ray and Dave Davies who formed the core of the group. The group initially consisted of Ray (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave (lead guitar, vocals), Pete Quaife (bass guitar, backup vocals), and Mick Avory (drums and percussion).The Davies brothers, while both being musical geniuses, were legendary for their never ending battles and constant fighting. They practically wrote the book on feuding brothers in a rock band decades before Oasis.

The decades long feud aside, Ray Davies is almost indisputably rock's most literate, witty and insightful songwriter, while Dave Davies on the other hand, is renowned for his edgy hard-rock style guitar playing many years before hard rock had really begun to surface. This incredibly tight band had so much talent that it went to their heads rather quickly and egos began to clash with often disastrous results as early as 1965. One of the more famous incidents involved Dave and Mick Avory getting into a fight on stage one night in Cardiff in 1965. After running through a ramped up version of "You Really Got Me", Davies insulted Avory and kicked over his drum set. Avory responded by hitting Davies in the back of the head with his hi-hat stand, rendering him unconscious, before fleeing from the scene, fearing that he had killed his band mate. Luckily, Davies lived and was taken to Cardiff Royal Infirmary, where he received 16 stitches to his head. These types of on stage violence, especially the ones between Ray and Dave (often degrading into on stage brawls), resulted in The Kinks becoming victims of a 1965 blacklist by the American Federation of Musicians.

This inability to tour America during the height of the 'British Invasion' kept them from attaining the vast commercial success of groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. This inability was a shame because it kept them in a sort of underground status for much of the mid sixties but definitely contributed to the growing cult following of The Kinks. Partly because of this, The Kinks remain unique among the first wave of the British Invasion bands. It is interesting if you think about it that The Beatles broke up because they couldn’t remain together. The Rolling Stones and The Who stayed together because they couldn’t afford to break up. Within the Kinks, the battling brothers Davies seemingly stayed together out of spite for each other, and to spite the radio stations that all but ignored the band after its initial string of AM hits. It was possibly this inability to cross over into America that contributed to the new direction the band started to take later in 1965 and early 1966. Whereas before there were the pulverizing rocker songs like the pre-punk 'You Really Got Me' and 'All Day And All Of The Night' which were full of primal energy combined with the berserk fury of Dave Davies’ guitar, there were now songs that began to feature lyrics rich in social commentary, and a unique tone of every day life in English village life.

These trends continued into 1968, with the band even retiring from touring in order to focus on their studio work much like the Beatles had done in 1966. This move resulted in the release of legendary album 'The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society' which was a concept album and sort of the Kinks answer to 'Sgt Pepper' by The Beatles. While initially selling under 100,000 copies, it has gone on to become their greatest selling album and is recognized as one of the greatest concept albums of all time. The release of this album signaled a shift towards concept albums with increasingly story driven themes on their future releases during the rest of their thirty year span. Over the years, having gone from rowdy hit makers of the mid sixties to late Sixties cult heroes to bonafide arena-filling rock stars in the Seventies and Eighties, the Kinks are back to being a little under most peoples radar and have returned to their position as cult icons in the world of Rock.

The Facts:

- The Kinks remain the only band from the original British invasion with all the original members still alive.
-The career of The Kinks spanned more than 30 years between 1964 and 1996. In that time the group released 25 studio albums and had dozens of hit singles.
-All of the original members of The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
-Rumors have been spreading since late 2008 that a Kinks reunion is in the works.... stay tuned in regards to that. I will let you know more as it develops.

My Fave Album:

- I would have to say my fave album is Lola. It is a really solid album from start to finish and the satire and scathing views on the music industry are awesome. From tracks such as 'The Moneygoround' about the greed in the music business having little to do with the music, to the epic song of road life and travel in 'This Time Tomorrow' to the phenomenal track 'Lola' which is without a doubt the most famous song about a romantic encounter with a transvestite in all of Rock history. That being said, every track on the album is gold and it is a very easy to recommend album.

Enjoy this awesome live version of 'Lola'!
see you folks tomorrow for new posts!


Chris said...

This live version fucking rocks....

Tosho said...

Right on! I'm glad you dug it! Thanks for checking out my site