Appreciating The Kinks’ Veddy, Veddy British Period


(via CultureSonar)

by David Stewart

The Kinks are of course well-known in America, or at least several of their quite distinctive “periods” are. Their initial hard-rocking British Invasion period, their “Lola” period, their late 70’s “Low Budget” period and their early 80’s MTV/”Come Dancing” period, certainly. But it’s the period between the first two – to my mind their best – that I’d like to focus on for this piece. The fact that this period – which includes what are perhaps their two best albums –is lesser known to many Americans is largely a function of history and the band’s getting very specifically British for those two albums. But it would be a shame for American fans to miss out on their best work.

The band burst on to the music scene with a particularly noisy entrance. “You Really Got Me” arguably rocked harder than anything the Beatles or Stones released that year (1964), and indeed that record has often been called either the first metal or first punk single (take your pick). Lead guitarist Dave Davies allegedly once said that “They didn’t call it heavy metal when I invented it.”

Americans ate up the band’s early hard-rocking singles, but a legal dispute with the American musician’s union (AF of M) meant that after the band’s first US tour, they were not allowed to tour the US again till the end of the 60’s, guaranteeing that some of their best work would remain underappreciated on this side of the pond. Even “Waterloo Sunset”, the mid-60’s single often considered the best the Kinks ever released, failed to chart in the US at all, though it would belatedly become a staple on rock radio starting in the 70’s…

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Songs You May Have Missed #524


The Kinks: “Apeman” (1971)

It only peaked at #45 on the pop charts in 1971, but for my money this is one of the great rock songs of all time.

The desire to escape the everyday routine was a perennial theme in the songwriting of Ray Davies (see below).

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Songs You May Have Missed #469


The Kinks: “Sitting in the Midday Sun” (1973)

Ray Davies’ charmingly unambitious vignette (taken from Preservation, his most ambitious musical project).

Who needs a job when it’s sunny?

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