From The Beat, April 1998

The Kinks

Kinks
Kinda Kinks
The Kink Kontroversy
Face to Face
Something Else by the Kinks
Live at Kelvin Hall
The Kinks are the Village Preservation Society
Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire
Kinks Part 1 Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround
Percy

The Kinks were bigger than the Beatles. Well, of course they weren't, but they might have been. Without any doubt, they are at least as important, though this is often less than readily acknowledged, in the history of the phenomenon that is British Popular Music. Hell, they even did sibling rivalry 25 years before Oasis - and more viciously, too. The time for a reassessment of their worth is long overdue, so the release of their first ten albums on Castle's 'Essential' label is to be welcomed. That each is superbly repackaged (illuminating sleeve notes by Record Collector's Peter Doggett, archive material, previously unpublished photographs, etc.), remastered and with a surfeit of bonus material (alternative mono and stereo versions of entire albums, single A and B sides, alternate takes, demos and never- before- released songs) is to be cheered from the rooftops.

The ominous note that, in some cases, priority has been given to historic content than optimum sound quality need not trouble the listener, since it applies only to duplicated mono/ stereo material and, in any case, the sound in those circumstances is perfectly acceptable.

Released over an eight- year period, from 1964 to 1971, these ten discs document an initially confident band maturing and developing, with perhaps more emphasis on lyrics and concept, over studio production and riffs, than their Scouse contemporaries. Ray Davies markedly original song- writing - easily the equal of anything by Lennon & McCartney - needed no George Martin to propel it the extra mile.

These discs contain thirteen top- ten singles, plus another, Days, which should have been. From Waterloo Sunset to You Really Got Me, they are songs which even people for whom "Kinks" means sexual deviancy can sing along to - though, in some cases, like the debut album's Stop Your Sobbin', it took a cover version to achieve this.

Success with singles did not mean duff albums with run of the mill filler. A few R&B standards appear on the first pair, but Davies writing is too powerful for that to have continued and, for every modern- day Karaoke favourite there are another handful of perfectly crafted songs; less well known but equally powerful.

The Kinks were, early experimenters with concept albums, too, namely Village Green and Arthur, which saw a downturn in the bands commercial success, but this was more to do with changing fashion than any lapse of quality.

Andy Mabbett
Copyright 1998

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