The Kinks were an English rock band that released twenty-four studio albums between 1964 and 1993. Singer–guitarist and songwriter Ray Davies formed the band with his guitarist–singer brother Dave Davies. The original lineup featured bassist Pete Quaife and drummer Mick Avory. They burst on the scene with the twin hits “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” both high-energy numbers that initiated the use of distorted power-chords in rock.
The Kinks expanded their sound with the 1965 hits “Tired of Waiting for You” and “Set Me Free,” both becalmed numbers that contrast the intensity of “Till the End of the Day” and the buzz of “See My Friends,” a forerunner of raga rock. After a debut album split between covers and originals, Ray proliferated as a songwriter on the albums Kinda Kinks and The Kink Kontroversy.
Ray’s songwriting took an observational turn on the 1965–66 hits “A Well Respected Man” and “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” both folksy numbers with satirical lyrics. The Kinks explored slice-of-life vignettes on the 1966–67 hits “Sunny Afternoon,” “Dead End Street,” “Mr. Pleasant,” and the concurrent albums Face to Face and Something Else by The Kinks, both steeped in piano-driven music hall. Ray’s romance of the English landscape culminated in “Waterloo Sunset,” an enduring Kinks ballad. Dave, meanwhile, emerged as a songwriter with the 1967 hits “Death of a Clown” and “Susannah’s Still Alive.”
The Kinks achieved thematic unity with the 1968–69 albums The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). The latter — which views the spoils of war and migration through the eyes of an aging Englishman — contains the regal rocker “Victoria” and the epic “Shangri-La.”
In 1970, The Kinks charted worldwide with “Lola,” an ambiguous chant from Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, a collection of music-industry broadsides. They explored English customs on their 1971 release Muswell Hillbillies, a mix of music hall and American country.
The Kinks became a vaudeville troupe with bassist John Dalton, keyboardist John Gosling, and a three-piece horn section. Their 1972 release Everybody’s in Show-Biz marked an embrace of theatrical camp and Dixieland arrangements: hallmarks of their 1973–75 concept albums Preservation Act 1, Preservation Act 2, and Soap Opera. They took a rockier turn on Schoolboys In Disgrace, their last of six albums on RCA.
The Kinks signed to Arista for the 1977–78 albums Sleepwalker and Misfits, which signaled their stateside chart renaissance with the radio hits “Juke Box Music” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy.” On their 1979 album Low Budget, they spoofed new trends, notably with the anti-heroic “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman.” Their 1980 live double-album On the Road marked their graduation to US stadium-level status.
The Kinks entered the video age with the 1981 release Give the People What They Want, which spawned their UK comeback “Better Things” and the US radio hit “Destroyer,” plus the MTV favorite “Predictable.” They scored their biggest worldwide hit with the 1982 single “Come Dancing,” the centerpiece of their 1983 album State of Confusion, which generated further airplay and MTV rotation with “Don’t Forget to Dance” and the title track. The Kinks marked their 20th anniversary with the 1984 hit “Do It Again” from their twenty-first studio album Word of Mouth, their last with Avory.
The Kinks remained a stateside live attraction and emerged sporadically with the MCA albums Think Visual (1986) and UK Jive (1989). After their 1993 Columbia release Phobia, the Davies brothers retired The Kinks to focus on books and separate musical projects.
Members: Ray Davies (vocals, guitar), Dave Davies (lead guitar, vocals), Pete Quaife (bass guitar, 1962-69), John Start (drums, 1962-63), Mickey Willett (drums, 1963-64), Mick Avory (drums, 1964-84), John Dalton (bass guitar, 1966, 1969-76), John Gosling (keyboards, 1970-78), Andy Pyle (bass guitar, 1976-78), Jim Rodford (bass guitar, 1978-96), Gordon Edwards (keyboards, 1978-79), Ian Gibbons (keyboards, 1979-89, 1993-96), Bob Henrit (drums, 1984-96), Mark Haley (keyboards, 1989-93)
The Kinks had their roots in the Ray Davis Quartet, a pre-beat combo formed in 1962 by singer–guitarist Ray Davies (b. June 21, 1944) and featuring his younger brother Dave Davies (b. Feb. 3, 1947) and bassist Pete Quaife (b. Dec. 31, 1943). The Davies grew up as the only boys in an eight-child Fortis Green household, where they absorbed the early rock and jazz enjoyed by their older sisters as well as the music-hall pop of their Edwardian parents.
The quartet played at school dances in and around Muswell Hill and shuffled through numerous lead vocalists, including one gig with a young Rod Stewart. As the R&B–beat boom swept London, Ray moonlighted in the Dave Hunt Band (with a pre-Rolling Stones Charlie Watts) and the Hamilton King Band (with future Camel keyboardist Peter Bardens). Meanwhile, the quartet changed its name to The Ramrods and then The Ravens while gigging the London club circuit.
In late 1963, Ray secured business contacts for the fledgling group, including singer-turned-manager Larry Page and Beatles promoter Arthur Howes.
In January 1964, drummer Micky Willet cleared out for Mick Avory (b. Feb. 15, 1944), who played on a 1961 UK No. 30 hit (“Baby Sittin”’) with Bobby Angelo & The Tuxedos.
The Ravens linked with London-based American record producer Shel Talmy, whose clients included Dublin vocal trio The Bachelors and Bradford pop singer Tony Victor. In early 1964, Talmy secured The Ravens a deal with Pye. Page assembled a unified band image: frilly shirts, black pants, Chelsea boots, and red hunter jackets, all special-ordered from the London costumier Bermans & Nathans. In reference to their odd (“kinky”) attire and in an effort to seem vaguely risqué, the band changed their name to The Kinks.
On February 7, 1964, The Kinks released their debut single: “Long Tall Sally,” an R&B cover backed with the Ray Davies original “I Took My Baby Home.” American songwriters Robert “Bumps” Blackwell and Enotris Johnson co-wrote “Long Tall Sally” in 1956 with singer–pianist Richard Penniman, who charted that year with the original version under his stage name Little Richard.
One month after The Kinks issued their version, The Beatles recorded “Long Tall Sally” for the soundtrack to their music-comedy A Hard Days Night, though it was left off the soundtrack. Stateside, “Long Tall Sally” (b/w “I Took My Baby Home”) appeared as a promo single on Cameo, a short-lived Philly label that issued singles by Bobby Rydell, The Orlons, Dee Dee Sharp, and fellow UK beatsters The Applejacks.
On April 17, The Kinks released their second single “You Still Want Me,” an upbeat track backed with “You Do Something to Me,” a subdued harmony number. Both songs echo the era’s Merseybeat sound. This and all subsequent singles are originals, mostly written by Ray Davies.
Talmy produced both singles in succession with 1964 singles by The Blue Orchids, The Fortunes, The Hearts, and The Zephyrs. The Kinks recorded all four sides on January 20 at Pye Studios, where sessions drummer Bobby Graham deputized Avory at Talmy’s insistence.
The Kinks’ spring–summer live roster included dates with the Remo Four (June 6, 1964 Memorial Hall, Northwich), The Four Pennies (6/14: King George’s Hall, Blackburn), The Warriors (6/20: Astoria Ballroom, Rawtenstall), The Cherokees (6/26: Lido Ballroom, Winchester), Ivan’s Meads (6/27: Stamford Hall, Altrincham), PJ Proby (7/12: ABC Cinema, Great Yarmouth), and The Paramounts (7/16: Assembly Hall, Worthing). On August 2, The Kinks supported The Beatles at Gaumont Cinema in Bournemouth.
“You Really Got Me”
Shel Talmy produced both sides in July 1964 at London’s IBC Studios. Pianist Arthur Greenslade, a veteran English arranger, plays on “You Really Got Me,” which also features sessionist and ontime Outlaws drummer Bobby Graham. Talmy restricted Mick Avory to the tambourine on this track.
On August 16, The Kinks supported The Beatles at the Blackpool Opera House along with The High Numbers, an R&B–rock quartet managed by mod impresario Pete Meaden. “You Really Got Me” entered the UK Singles Chart Top 20 on the week of August 20 and shot to No. 4 the next week. Amid this sudden buzz, The Kinks headlined shows with The Clique (8/28: Goldhawk Social Club, London) and The Searchers (8/30: Queen’s Theatre, Blackpool).
On September 10, “You Really Got Me” reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, where it ousted “Have I the Right?” by The Honeycombs. The Kinks performed their hit and three covers (“Got Love If You Want It,” “Little Queenie,” “Cadillac”) at London’s Playhouse Theatre for the BBC radio program Saturday Club. “You Really Got Me” held the top spot for two weeks, then bowed to “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits.
The Kinks mimed “You Really Got Me” on the August 19 broadcast of the BBC music program Top of the Pops, which re-aired the song four times amid late-summer hits by The Beatles (“A Hard Day’s Night”), Dionne Warwick (“You’ll Never Get To Heaven”), Four Seasons (“Rag Doll”), Manfred Mann (“Do Wah Diddy Diddy”), Marianne Faithfull (“As Tears Go By”), Roy Orbison (“Oh Pretty Woman”), The Supremes (“Where Did Our Love Go”), The Zombies (“She’s Not There”).
Reprise Records — a Warner subsidiary started four years earlier by Frank Sinatra — licensed Pye releases for stateside distribution specifically to get their hands on “You Really Got Me.” Reprise rush-released the single on September 2 in the US, where “You Really Got Me” reached No. 5 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On September 13, The Kinks headlined Queen’s Theatre over The Nashville Teens, whose recent version of the blues standard “Tobacco Road” topped the UK Singles Chart four weeks before The Kinks took the honor. On Sept, 27, The Kinks headlined a Queen’s Theatre multi-act bill with Marianne Faithfull, The Paramounts, The Puppets, The Quotations, and The Rustiks.
On September 30, The Kinks played a package show at the Glasgow Odeon with Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, The Nashville Teens, rising stars The Yardbirds, and American girl group The Ronettes.
The Kinks released their debut album, Kinks, on October 2, 1964, on Pye. It features fourteen songs, including their recent hit (“You Really Got Me”) and first b-side (“I Took My Baby Home”). The album contains three additional Ray Davies originals: “So Mystifying,” “Just Can’t Go to Sleep,” and “Stop Your Sobbing.”
Kinks also features six covers, including two Chuck Berry staples (“Beautiful Delilah,” “Too Much Monkey Business”) and R&B chestnuts by Don Covay (“Long Tall Shorty”), Bo Diddley (“Cadillac”), and Slim Harpo (“Got Love If You Want It”).
Shel Talmy produced the album and contributed two songs with “Bald” in the title, both adapted from public-domain folk tunes. Jimmy Page, a young London session guitarist, plays on two songs. He collaborated with Ray on “Revenge,” a trebly two-chord instrumental.
“Beautiful Delilah” (2:07) originated as a 1958 Chess a-side by Chuck Berry. Swedish beatsters The Zettlers released a version as a 1965 Swedisc b-side.
“So Mystifying” (2:58)
“Just Can’t Go to Sleep” (1:58)
“Long Tall Shorty” (2:50) is an R&B standard co-written by Don Covay and Herb Abramson. The Graham Bond Organization also cut “Long Tall Shorty” as the a-side of their 1964 debut single. Swedish beatsters The Deejays cut this as a 1965 Polydor a-side.
“I Took My Baby Home” (1:48)
“I’m a Lover Not a Fighter” (2:03) is a song by American songwriter and record producer J. D. “Jay” Miller, who produced the 1958 first version by Louisiana blues singer Lazy Lester. Piccadilly R&B-beatsters The Brand cut this song as a late-1964 a-side.
“You Really Got Me” (2:13)
“Cadillac” (2:44) originates from the 1960 Checker release Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger, the third album by Bo Diddley (aka Ellas McDaniel).
“Bald Headed Woman” (2:41)
“Too Much Monkey Business” (2:16) originated as a 1956 Chess b-side by Chuck Berry & his Combo.
“I’ve Been Driving on Bald Mountain” (2:01)
“Stop Your Sobbing” (2:06)
“Got Love If You Want It” (3:46) originated as a 1957 Excello b-side by Louisiana bluesman Slim Harpo (aka James Moore).
Sessions took place between mid-July and early September 1964 at Pye and IBC Studios. Dave Davies sings lead on “Beautiful Delilah,” “Long Tall Shorty,” “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter” and “I’ve Been Driving on Bald Mountain.” The last two feature Jimmy Page on twelve-string acoustic guitar.
Bobby Graham plays on “Revenge” and all of Side One. Mick Avory only appears on the six remaining Side Two tracks. Ray’s girlfriend (and eventual wife) Rasa Didzpetris sings backing vocals on “Stop Your Sobbing,” which features Ivy League pianist Perry Ford, who also guests on “Bald Headed Woman” with Artwoods organist Jon Lord.
Classical soundman Bob Auger engineered Kinks, which features an uncredited sleeve design and red-lit photography by Klaus Schmalenbach. The back cover has a giant K with liner notes by Talmy.
Kinks reached No. 5 on the New Musical Express Best Selling LPs chart, No. 4 on the Melody Maker Top Ten LPs chart, and No. 3 on the Record Retailer LPs chart. In West Germany, the album reached No. 7 on the Musikmarkt LP Hit Parade.
In the US, the album appeared as You Really Got Me on Reprise. This version omits “I Took My Baby Home,” “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter,” and “Revenge.” It reched No. 20 on the Record World 100 Top LPs chart.
“All Day and All of the Night”
Shel Talmy produced both sides on September 23–24 at Pye Studios. “All Day and All of the Night” features the Davies brothers and Pete Quaife supplemented by Ford, Graham, and (on backing vocals) Coventry rocker singer Johnny B. Great.
“All Day and All of the Night” reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. It also went Top 10 in New Zealand (No. 5), the Netherlands (No. 9), and Sweden (No. 10), and peaked at No. 12 in Canada and France.
The Kinks mimed “All Day and All of the Night” on the November 11 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song weekly that month amid hits by Dusty Springfield (“Losing You”), The Four Pennies (“Black Girl”), Manfred Mann (“Sha La La”), The Nashville Teens (“Google Eye”), Petula Clark (“Downtown”), The Pretty Things (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), The Supremes (“Baby Love”), and Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders (“Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”).
Between November 7 and December 6, The Kinks partook in a 28-date UK package tour with Gerry & The Pacemakers, Gene Pitney, Marianne Faithfull, The Mike Cotton Sound, Bobby Shafto & The Roof Raisers, and (from the US) Motown singer Kim Weston, backed by the Earl Van Dyke Band. For the final six dates (Dec. 1–6), the bill included The Manish Boys, a Talmy-produced act led by ex-King Bees singer–saxist Davie Jones.
Reprise issued “All Day and All of the Night” on December 9 in the US, where it reached No. 5 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Kinksize Session (EP)
A1 “Louie Louie” is a 1955 song by American R&B singer Richard Berry, who released the original version as a 1957 b-side with The Pharaohs. In 1961, Seattle garage-rockers The Wailers transformed “Louie Louie” into a three-chord rock anthem. This arrangement inspired 1963 versions by two competing Portland, Oregon, garage bands, Paul Revere & the Raiders and The Kingsmen. The latter’s version reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Chart with its simple riff and singer Jack ELy’s nasally delivery, which inspired the vocal style of an initially mic-shy Ray Davies.
A2 “I Gotta Go Now”
B1 “I’ve Got That Feeling”
B2 “Things Are Getting Better”
The Kinks cut three tracks on a disputed date; either October 18 or November 16. “I Gotta Go Now” originates from the September sessions that produced “All Day and All of the Night.”
Kinksize Session reached No. 1 on the UK Record Retailer EP chart.
“Tired of Waiting for You”
Shel Talmy produced Side A at Pye (Aug. 14) and Side B at IBC (Dec. 29). The Kinks recorded “Tired of Waiting for You” before “All Day and All of the Night” but released the latter first because if its similarity to “You Really Got Me.” This is their last a-side for ten months with Bobby Graham in lieu of Mick Avory. (After three singles with Avory, Graham returns once more for their third album.)
“Tired of Waiting for You” became the second Kinks No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart. It also reached No. 1 in South Africa and No. 3 in Canada, Ireland, and Sweden (Tio i Topp).
The Kinks mimed “Tired of Waiting For You” on the January 21 broadcast of TotP, which re-aired the song four times amid winter hits by The Animals (“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”), Gerry & The Pacemakers (“Ferry ’Cross the Mersey”), The Hollies (“Yes I Will”), The Ivy League (“Funny How Love Can Be”), The Moody Blues (“Go Now”), The Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin”’), The Shangri-las (“The Leader of The Pack”), and Them (“Baby Please Don’t Go”).
Meanwhile, The Kinks played their first shows in Oceania and Indochina as part of the Big Show Tour, a 15-date package with Manfred Mann, The Honeycombs, Tony Sheveton, and Tony Worsley & The Blue Jays. The twelve-city tour started on January 20 at Capitol Theatre in Perth, Australia, and wrapped with a February 7–8 engagement at the Singapore Badminton Hall. On the four New Zealand dates (Feb. 1–4), the bill included Kiwi rockers Tommy Adderley & The Merseymen. The Feb. 6 Hong Kong date included Filipino beatsters D’Swooners.
Reprise lifted “Tired of Waiting for You” on February 17 in the US, where it reached No. 5 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Kinks released their second UK album, Kinda Kinks, on March 5, 1965, on Pye. It features both sides of their recent single (“Tired of Waiting for You,” “Come on Now”) and seven additional Ray Davies originals, including “Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” and and the closing ballad “Something Better Beginning.”
Kinda Kinks also features covers of Martha & the Vandellas (“Dancing in the Street”) and a second song by J. D. Miller (“Naggin’ Woman”). “Got My Feet on the Ground” is a rare Ray and Dave co-write.
“Look for Me Baby” (2:17)
“Got My Feet on the Ground” (2:14)
“Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout that Girl” (2:44)
“Naggin’ Woman” (2:36) is a blues song co-authored by Jerry West (aka J. D. Miller) and Mississippi harpist Jimmy Anderson, who first cut it as a 1962 Excello a-side (titled “Naggin”’).
“Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” (2:01)
“Tired of Waiting for You” (2:31)
“Dancing in the Street” (2:20) was a 1964 Billboard No. 2 hit by Martha & the Vandellas; co-written by Marvin Gaye with producers Ivy Jo Hunter and William “Mickey” Stevenson and released on the Gordy division of Motown.
“Don’t Ever Change” (2:25)
“Come on Now” (1:49)
“So Long” (2:10)
“You Shouldn’t Be Sad” (2:03)
“Something Better Beginning” (2:26)
Sessions took place between December 22, 1964, and February 17, 1965, at Pye and IBC Studios. Dave sings “Got My Feet On the Ground,” “Naggin’ Woman,” and “Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight.” Ray plays acoustic guitar on “Nothin’ in the World,” “Don’t Ever Change,” and “So Long.” Mick Avory plays on everything apart from the Graham-drummed “Tired of Waiting for You.” Rasa (now Ray’s wife) appears as a backing vocalist on select numbers. “Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy” features uncredited vocal backing by the girlfriends of other Kinks.
Shel Talmy produced the album amid work with The Zephyrs and another new client, The Who (recently known as The High Numbers), whose debut single under the Who name, the January 1965 Brunswick–Decca release “I Can’t Explain,” sports a choppy three-chord riff directly inspired by the first two Kinks a-sides. Bob Auger engineered Kinda Kinks apart from “Got My Feet on the Ground,” on which Talmy enlisted budding IBC soundman Glyn Johns, who moonlighted in Decca beatsters The Presidents.
Kinda Kinks presents the band in formal mid-sixties attire in color (front) and monochrome (back). The album’s title appears in blue, lower-case bold type apart from the three red k’s, perhaps signalling the band’s emphasis of the letter (often in lieu of c) in Kinks-related media. In Germany, the album appeared on Vogue Schallplatten as The Kinks with the cover pic framed in red.
Kinda Kinks reached reached No. 2 on the UK New Musical Express Best Selling LPs chart and No. 3 on the Melody Maker Top Ten and Record Retailer LPs charts.
On March 14, The Kinks took over Manfred Mann’s slot on Big Beat Night Out, a four-date package tour with The Animals, The Pretty Things, Screaming Lord Sutch, Sean Buckley & The Breadcrumbs, and Dodie West. The Kinks played three cities: Newcastle (3/14: City Hall), Croydon (3/19: Fairfield Hall), and Birmingham (3/22: Town Hall). Between dates, The Kinks played Swindon’s Locarno Ballroom, supported by Les Fleur De Lys.
In March 1965, Reprise issued Kinks-Size, The Kinks’ second US album. It compiles the two recent Kinks a-sides (“All Day and All of the Night,” “Tired of Waiting for You”) and b-sides (“I Gotta Move,” “Come on Now”), plus two songs omitted from You Really Got Me (“Revenge,” “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter”) and the four Kinksize Session tracks: “Louie Louie,” “I’ve Got that Feeling,” “Things are Getting Better,” and “I Gotta Go Now.”
Kinks-Size sports an alternate group shot from the Kinda Kinks photo shoot. The back cover features liner notes and member info under a movie-billboard-style layout of the nameplate, title, and songs, replete with the tagline “The Kinks Roll and Rock with Their 1965 Hits featuring…”
“Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy”
On March 19, 1965, The Kinks released their sixth single: “Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy” a sprinting rave-up backed with “Who’ll Be the Next in Line,” an R&B rocker with a poking four-note guitar figure.
Shel Talmy produced both sides on December 22–23, 1964, at Pye Studios. Rasa sings backing vocals on the single: The Kinks’ first with Avory on both sides.
TotP aired “Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” on its April 15 broadcast amid hits by The Beatles (“Ticket to Ride”), Cliff Richard (“The Minute You’re Gone”), Dave Berry (“Little Things”), and Peter & Gordon (“True Love Ways”).
“Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” reached No. 12 in Sweden and No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart. Reprise vetoed the single’s US release.
In France, Pye put both sides of the “Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy” single on Vol. 2, a fourteen-track album that includes eight Kinda Kinks tracks (barring “Don’t Ever Change,” “Nothin’ in the World,” “So Long,” “Something Better Beginning”), one Kinksize Session song (“I Gotta Go Now”), and three sides from their first two singles (omitting “I Took My Baby Home”). Vol. 2 placed the Kinda Kinks cover pic in deep-blue framework with sky-blue bold type.
On April 30, The Kinks embarked on a nineteen-date UK package tour with Mickey Finn, Jeff & Jon, The Yardbirds, The Riot Squad, Val McKenna, and Goldie & The Gingerbreads. The tour kicked off in Slough at the Adelphi Cinema and wrapped on May 19 in Cardiff, Wales, at Capitol Cinema, where tensions erupted between Mick Avory and Dave Davies, who kicked over the drum set. Mick, in turn, thrust his hi-hat stand at Dave, who required sixteen head stitches.
“Set Me Free”
On May 21, 1965, The Kinks released their seventh UK single: “Set Me Free,” a modulating rock ballad backed with “I Need You,” a trebly two-chord rocker. Shel Talmy produced both sides on April 13–14 at Pye.
The Kinks mimed “Set Me Free” on the June 5 TotP, which twice aired the song amid spring hits by Dave Clark Five (“Come Home”), Donovan (“Colours”), Unit 4 Plus 2 (“(You’ve) Never Been In Love Like This Before”), and The Who (“Anyway Anyhow Anywhere”).
“Set Me Free” reached No. 2 in Canada and No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart.
Reprise issued “Set Me Free” as the fifth US Kinks single. In 1967, Michigan garage rockers The Rationals covered “I Need You” as an a-side on the Ann Arbor small-press A-Square Records.
Meanwhile, The Kinks embarked on their first US tour. After six cancelled Northeast dates, they performed “Set Me Free” on The Clay Cole Show, a New York-area music program. They made their US live debut with a June 18–19 engament at Manhattan’s Academy of Music as support to the Dave Clark Five.
On June 26, The Kinks partook in a multi-act event at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium, where they incensed promoters with an elongated “You Really Got Me.” On July 3, they appeared at the Hollywood Bowl for the Beach Boys Summer Spectacular, which also featured sets by The Righteous Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs, Ian Whitcomb, and the Liverpool Five.
On July 6, The Kinks played K-POI’s Royal Ball at the Honolulu International Center. The US tour wrapped with three shows in Washington state, including two Summer Spectacular concert events. After their July 10 show at Seattle Center Coliseum, the American Federation of Musicians banned The Kinks from the US concert circuit, purportedly for unprofessional behavior (cancelled shows, onstage fights, money disputes, conflicts with promoters).
“See My Friends”
On July 30, 1965, The Kinks released their eighth UK single: “See My Friends,” a droning folk-rocker backed with “Never Met a Girl Like You Before.” Shel Talmy produced both sides on May 3 at Pye Studios.
Ray wrote “See My Friends” after a stopver in Bombai, India, where he soaked up the nation’s raga sounds. His use of a buzzing sustained not under a shifting guitar figure presaged songs by The Who (“The Good’s Gone”) and George Harrison’s raga contributions to The Beatles.
“See My Friends” reached No. 10 on the UK Record Retailer chart and No. 19 in Sweden.
The Kinks mimed “See My Friends” on the August 5 broadcast of TotP, which thrice re-aired it amid late-summer hits by The Byrds (“All I Really Want To Do”), Jonathan King (“Everyone’s Gone To The Moon”), The Rolling Stones (“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”), and The Walker Brothers (“Make It Easy On Yourself”).
“Who’ll Be the Next in Line” | Kinda Kinks (US)
Reprise deemed “See My Friends” unsuitable for the US market. In its stead, the label issued the earlier UK b-side “Who’ll Be the Next in Line” as the sixth Kinks US single (b/w “Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy”).
“Who’ll Be the Next in Line” peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100. In September, London mods The Knack (a new Larry Page client), covered “Who’ll Be the Next in Line” as a Decca a-side. In 1966, versions appeared by Danish beatsters The Hitmakers and Italian beatsters New Dada.
In August 1965, Reprise issued Kinda Kinks as their third US album. It features nine songs from its UK counterpart (everything except “Naggin’ Woman” and the two songs on Kinks-Size), plus “Set Me Free” and “Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy.”
Meanwhile, The Kinks focused on the UK concert, TV, and radio circuits. On August 6, they taped a set for the BBC at Aeolian Hall, Studio 1, where they performed three setlist originals (“You Really Got Me,” “See My Friends,” “Never Met a Girl Like You Before”), an unrecorded Davies composition (“This Strange Effect”), and covers of Sleepy John Estes (“Milk Cow Blues”) and Joe Turner & His Blues Kings (“Hide And Seek”).
English pop singer Dave Berry covered “This Strange Effect.” His version, released in July 1965 on Decca, reached No. 1 in the Netherlands.
On September 17, 1965, Pye issued Kwyet Kinks, a four-song EP with three new Ray Davies originals (“Such a Shame,” “A Well Respected Man,” “Don’t You Fret”) and “Wait Till the Summer Comes Along,” a Dave Davies contribution. “A Well Respected Man” signaled Ray’s embrace of folksy character-driven numbers.
A1 “Wait Till The Summer Comes Along”
A2 “Such a Shame”
B1 “A Well Respected Man”
B2 “Don’t You Fret”
Pye issued Kwyet Kinks in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden. Elsewhere, the EP appeared on Astor (Australia) and Hispavox (Spain).
Kwyet Kinks reached No. 1 on both the Record Mirror and Record Retailer EP charts.
In October, The Kinks embarked on a sixteen-date German package tour (Oct. 1–17) with The Lords, Tony Sheridan & His All-Stars, and The Black Stars. On Oct. 28, The Kinks played Glen Ballroom in Llanelli, Wales, supported by The Eyes of Blue and The Wheels of Fortune.
On November 4, Reprise issued “A Well Respected Man” as the ninth US Kinks single (b/w “Such a Shame”). It reached No. 9 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
French lyricist Franck Gérald translated the song as “Un Jeune Homme Bien,” which Petula Clark sings on her 1965 Disques Vogue EP Il Faut Revenir.
The Kink Kontroversy
The Kinks released their third UK album, The Kink Kontroversy, on November 26, 1965, on Pye. It features ten Ray Davies originals that range from riff-based hard rock (“The World Keeps Going Round”) to humble singalong pop (“The World Keeps Going Round”) with forays into folk rock (“Where Have All the Good Times Gone”) and bossa nova (“I’m on an Island”). The album also includes one Dave Davies contribution (“I am Free”) and the chestnut “Milk Cow Blues.”
“Milk Cow Blues” (3:44) originates from a 1930 Victor 78″ by Tennessee bluesman Sleepy John Estes.
“Ring the Bells” (2:21)
“Gotta Get the First Plane Home” (1:49)
“When I See that Girl of Mine” (2:12)
“I am Free” (2:32)
“Till the End of the Day” (2:21)
“The World Keeps Going Round” (2:36)
“I’m on an Island” (2:19)
“Where Have All the Good Times Gone” (2:53)
“It’s too Late” (2:37)
“What’s in Store for Me” (2:06)
“You Can’t Win” (2:42)
Sessions took place on October 25–26 and November 3–4, 1965, at Pye Studios, where Shel Talmy produced the album amid singles by The Untamed and the debut Who album My Generation. Irish soundman Alan O’Duffy, a prominent seventies-era producer and engineer (Horslips, Slade, Stray) earned one of his earliest tech credits on Kink Kontroversy.
Ray Davies makes select use of harmonica (“Gotta Get the First Plane Home”) and piano (“Ring the Bells”) on Kink Kontroversy, where Dave Davies harmonizes with his brother on three songs (“Milk Cow Blues,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” “You Can’t Win”) and sings lead on two (“I am Free,” “What’s in Store for Me”).
Mick Avory makes select use of tambourine (“Till the End of the Day”), maracas (“Gotta Get the First Plane Home”), and bell (“I’m on an Island”). He’s the confirmed drummer on “Milk Cow Blues” and “Ring the Bells.” The remaining tracks (possibly barring “The World Keeps Going Round” and “It’s too Late”) features veteran session drummer Clem Cattini, a onetime member of The Tornadoes and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates.
The Kink Kontroversy is their first of four consecutive studio albums with session pianist Nicky Hopkins (also heard on My Generation), who plays on everything apart from “Ring the Bell.” Talmy plays electric guitar on “It’s Too Late.” Rasa sings backing vocals on “Till the End of the Day,” which also features harmonies by Pete Quaife.
The Kink Kontroversy sports a simple white cover with small studio pics of each member and a zoom-in motion shot of Dave’s guitar-strapped chest. The back cover shows the song titles with comical notes (ex: “I Am Free” – Dave moans on his own) and “Kontroversial Kinks,” a blurb by Michael Aldred, who writes that Ray’s “lyrics are very simple” but “mask the complex character that evolves them.” He characterizes Dave as a man preoccupied with “the diverse pursuit of happiness” but who also “swings between the extremes of frustration, elation, and black boredom.”
The Kink Kontroversy reached No. 7 on the UK Melody Maker Top Ten LPs chart (No .9 Record Retailer) and No. 8 on the West German Musikmarkt LP Hit Parade.
American former teen idol singer Bobby Rydell (an early stateside label-mate on Cameo) covered “When I See That Girl of Mine” as a Capitol a-side, issued in October 1965 — one month ahead of Kink Kontroversy and five month’s before the album’s US release. Rydell’s team possibly acquired Ray’s song through his early publisher, Edward Kassner Music Co. Ltd.
Pye lifted “Till the End of the Day” as the ninth UK Kinks a-side, backed with “Where Have All the Good Times Gone.” It reached No. 7 in Norway, No. 4 in the Netherlands, and No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart. In Sweden, “Till the End of the Day” reached No. 1 on the Tio i Topp radio program chart and No. 3 on the Kvällstoppen national record chart.
The Kinks mimed “Till the End of the Day” on the December 9 broadcast of TotP, which thrice re-aired the song amid winter hits by The Beatles (“Day Tripper”), Fontella Bass (“Rescue Me”), Spencer Davis Group (“Keep On Running”), and The Toys (“A Lover’s Concerto”).
In November 1965, Reprise issued Kinkdom as the fourth US Kinks album. It features “Who’ll Be the Next in Line” and both sides of their summer UK single (“See My Friends,” “Never Met a Girl Like You Before”), a prior b-side (“I Need You”), a Kinks-Size repeat (“Louie Louie”), the last outstanding Kinda Kinks track (“Naggin’ Woman”), and the complete contents of Kwyet Kinks: “A Well Respected Man,” “Don’t You Fret,” “Such a Shame,” and “Wait Till the Summer Comes Along.” The oldest inclusion is “It’s Alright” (aka “It’s All Right”), the UK b-side of “You Really Got Me.”
In March 1966, Reprise issued The Kink Kontroversy as their fifth US album. This was the first US Kinks album with the same tracklist as its UK counterpart.
The Kinks rang in 1966 with a New Year’s Day show at the Nantwich Civic Hall, supported by The Notions and The Pack of Cards. They played fourteen documented January shows, including double-bills with The Blades (1/17: Silver Blades Ice Rink, Croydon) and The Sect (1/25: Majestic Ballroom, Newcastle).
Pye issued “A Well Respected Man” (b/w “Such a Shame”) in Canada, where it reached No. 4 on the CHUM chart. Astor issued the single in Australia, where it reached No. 13 on the Kent Music Report. “A Well Respected Man” reached the Top 10 in Malaysia (No. 8), the Netherlands (No. 6), Singapore (No. 3), and South Africa (No. 7). In Sweden, the song reached No. 1 on the Tio i Topp (Sveriges Radio P3) chart and No. 5 on the Kvällstoppen (Swedish national record) chart. Quebecois singer Renée Martel covered Gérald’s translated version on a 1966 a-side.
On February 5, The Kinks played Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens, supported by The Yaks. They flew to Coppenhagen for a Feb. 12 multi-act bill at KB Hall, supported by Danish beatsters The Beefeaters, The Stoke Sect, The Joe E. Carter Group, The Dandy Swingers, Annisette, Sir Henry & His Butlers, and Master Joseph & His Disciples. On Feb. 16, The Kinks played two shows at the Dudley Hippodrome, supported by The Walker Brothers, Twinkle, The Sorrows, and Finders Keepers.
“Dedicated Follower of Fashion”
On February 25, 1966, The Kinks released “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” a folksy critique of London fashionistas backed with “Sittin’ on My Sofa,” an R&B boogie number. Shel Talmy produced both sides on February 7 and 10 (respectively) at Pye Studios.
“Dedicated Follower of Fashion” opens with a two-chord electric strum (C..C..F..F..C….), followed by a brisk acoustic verse strum (G….C….). The opening line (“They seek him here, they seek him there”) comes from The Scarlet Pimpernel, a 1905 historical novel about the French Revolution by Hungarian–British novelist Baroness Orczy (1865–1947).
“Dedicated Follower of Fashion” reached No. 1 in the Netherlands and New Zealand and No. 2 in Denmark. It also went Top 5 in Ireland (No. 3), Singapore (No. 4), and Sweden (No. 5). “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” reached No. 4 in the UK, where the lyrics reflected boutique denizens on London’s Carnaby Street.
The Kinks mimed “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” on the March 10 broadcast of TotP, which twice re-aired it amid spring hits by Lou Christie (“Lightning Strikes”), the Ramsey Lewis Trio (“A Hard Day’s Night”), The Small Faces (“Sha La La La Lee”), and The Yardbirds (“Shapes of Things”).
Ray Davies wrote and produced “King of the Whole Wide World,” a March 1966 Decca a-side by singer Leapy Lee with backing vocals by Goldie & The Gingerbreads.
On June 3, 1966, The Kinks released “Sunny Afternoon,” a wry contentment ballad backed with “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” a self-exaltation anthem. Shel Talmy produced the songs on May 12 (Side B) and May 13 (Side A) at Pye Studios.
“Sunny Afternoon” features Ray on twelve-string acoustic rhythm guitar. Nicky Hopkins plays piano and melodica on the song, which features Rasa on backing vocals.
“I’m Not Like Everybody Else” features lead vocals by Dave, whose adenoidal tone was deemed more suited to Ray’s strident lyrics on this number, which features both brothers on electric guitar. American garage rockers The Chocolate Watchband cover “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” on their 1968 second album The Inner Mystic.
“Sunny Afternoon” marks Ray’s embrace of music hall: an English style of comedic song and dance that spanned the Victorian era to the early Jazz Age (analogous to American vaudeville and European cabaret). In its post-Beat usage, the term refers to pop-vocal songs that conjure elements of folk, cabaret, and early 20th century American music styles like Ragtime, Dixieland, and Tin Pan Alley. Hallmarks include piano-thumping melodies, 2/4 oom-pah rhythms, and singalong lyrics, often with horn embellishments. The music hall thread runs through The Kinks’ 1966–75 output. The Beatles (more specifically, Paul McCartney) made a parallel embrace of music hall, starting with the Revolver tracks “Good Day Sunshine” and “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
“Sunny Afternoon” became the highest-charting Kinks song in multiple territories. It reached No. 1 in four international markets (Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway) and went Top 3 in Sweden, New Zealand, and Denmark. The song also went Top 10 on Finland, Germany, and Spain. At home, “Sunny Afternoon” became The Kinks’ third No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, where it held the top spot for two weeks.
The Kinks mimed “Sunny Afternoon” on the June 8 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song six times amid spring–summer hits by The Animals (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), The Beatles (“Paperback Writer”), The Hollies (“Bus Stop”), Ike & Tina Turner (“River Deep – Mountain High”), Los Bravos (“Black Is Black”), Percy Sledge (“When a Man Loves a Woman”), Simon & Garfunkel (“I Am a Rock”), and The Yardbirds (“Over Under Sideways Down”).
This marked their first appearance with bassist Jim Dalton (b. 1943, Chipping Barnet), fresh off a five-year stint in The Mark Four, which morphed into Talmy’s latest client, The Creation. He deputized Pete Quaife, who sustained injuries in a June 3 auto accident. Dalton’s stay lasted through the autumn release of their just-completed album.
Meanwhile, Reprise issued “Sunny Afternoon” on July 6 in the US, where it reached No. 11 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Face to Face
The Kinks released their fourth proper studio album, Face to Face, on October 28, 1966 on Pye and Reprise. This is their first parallel UK–US release with all original material, including their recent a-side “Sunny Afternoon.” Ray Davies composed everything apart from “Party Line,” a Dave co-write.
“Party Line” (2:35)
“Rosy Won’t You Please Come Home” (2:34) Ray based the song on Rose Davies, the brothers’ older sister who migrated to Australia in 1964 with her new husband.
“Too Much on My Mind” (2:28)
“Session Man” (2:14)
“Rainy Day in June” (3:10)
“A House in the Country” (3:03)
“Holiday in Waikiki” (2:52)
“Most Exclusive Residence for Sale” (2:48)
“Little Miss Queen of Darkness” (3:16)
“You’re Lookin’ Fine” (2:46)
“Sunny Afternoon” (3:36)
“I’ll Remember” (2:27)
Sessions took place between mid-April and June 21 at Pye Studios. One track (“I’ll Remember”) dates from the October 1965 Kink Kontroversy sessions. Shel Talmy produced Face to Face amid work on the first Creation single (“Making Time”) and the October 1966 Fontana release As Is, the third album by Manfred Mann (their first with singer Mike d’Abo). Soundman Alan MacKenzie engineered Face to Face in succession with Brave New World, an album by “Great Balls of Fire” co-writer Jack Hammer.
Ray Davies wrote Face to Face with a social observation theme. He intended to segue each track with interludes, but Pye vetoed the plan. Dave Davies sings lead on “Party Line” and “You’re Looking Fine.” This is the first Kinks album exclusively drummed by Mick Avory.
Two songs recorded late in the sessions — “Little Miss Queen of Darkness” and the held-over “Big Black Smoke” — feature bassist John Dalton in lieu of Pete Quaife. Further outtakes from the sessions include “Mr. Reporter,” “End of the Season,” “This Is Where I Belong,” “Lilacs and Daffodils” (a lost track with Avory on vocals) and “She’s Got Everything.”
Between the album’s completion and delayed release, covers of select tracks appeared by The Pretty Things (“A House in the Country”) and Herman’s Hermits (“Dandy”). The Pretty’s recording appeared as a July 1966 Fontana a-side and reached No. 31 on the UK Singles Chart. The Hermits’ “Dandy” appeared as a September MGM a-side and reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Immediately after Face to Face hit shelves, Blackpool beatsters The Rockin’ Vickers released a Talmy-produced cover of “Dandy” on CBS. (The 1995 Vickers compilation Lifelines erroneously credits Ray Davies as the writer of a track titled “Little Rosy”).
Face to Face sports psychedelic cover art that depicts multi-colored butterflies, released from the head of a kinky-haired dandy. The back cover has liner notes by
, who makes various lyrical references and writes in vivid terms about “The striped natty suiting. Touches of velvet upon the collar… ties of polka dot and Persian….” also wrote the liner notes to the 1966 Fontana release Winchester Cathedral by the New Vaudeville Band, a music hall novelty act.
Face to Face reached No. 8 on the UK Melody Maker Top Ten LPs chart (No. 12 Record Retailer) and No. 12 on the West German Musikmarkt LP Hit Parade. In Scandinavia, it reached No. 2 in Finland and No. 9 in Norway. Pye lifted “Dandy” as a single in the Netherlands and Germany (b/w “Party Line”).
“Dead End Street”
On November 18, 1966, The Kinks released “Dead End Street,” a working class lament backed with “Big Black Smoke,” about the heady urban jungle. Future Kinks bassist John Dalton plays on both sides; recorded during Pete Quaife’s five-month absence from the group.
The Kinks cut two versions of “Dead End Street” — a vetoed take with organ and French horn and the second, released version with piano (played by Ray Davies) and trombone, performed in a single take by one John Matthews, who Ray recruited at a nearby pub. Shel Talmy produced the first version on October 21 and refused to do a second take, which Ray produced the following day without Talmy’s knowledge.
“Dead End Street” features two electric bass parts and no electric guitar. Dalton plays the Danelectro bass, a twangy model used by John Entwistle on early Who songs, including the bass runs on “My Generation.” Dave Davies, who plays acoustic guitar on the song, interacts with Dalton on a standard bass.
The Kinks mimed “Dead End Street” on the December 1 broadcast of TotP, which thrice re-aired the song amid winter 1966–67 hits by Donovan (“Sunshine Superman”), The Easybeats (“Friday On My Mind”), The Four Tops (“Standing In the Shadows of Love”), Manfred Mann (“Semi-Detatched Suburban Mr. James”), Paul Jones (“I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Boy”), The Rascals (“Too Many Fish In the Sea”), The Small Faces (“My Mind’s Eye”), and The Troggs (“Any Way That You Want Me”).
“Dead End Street” reached No. 5 in the UK and No. 7 in Ireland. It peaked at No. 4 in New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Sweden. “Dead End Street” also went Top 10 in Germany (No. 5), Norway (No. 6), Canada (No. 7), and Denmark (No. 9).
On April 1, 1967, The Kinks taped a show at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, Scotland. In August, Reprise issued The Live Kinks, a 34-minute album comprised of nine numbers from the Kelvin setlist. The Kinks perform three early rockers (“Till the End of the Day,” “Come On Now,” “You Really Got Me”), four recent folk–music hall numbers (“A Well Respected Man,” “You’re Lookin’ Fine,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “Dandy”), one Kontroversy deep cut (“I’m on an Island”), and a medley of “Milk Cow Blues,” the “Batman Theme,” and “Tired of Waiting for You.”
Like many sixties live releases, the album underwent studio enhancements. The prominent audience screams that run throughout the album are purportedly looped and consume one distinct track of the four-track recording. Though intended to satiate American fans who couldn’t see the band due to the union ban, the album ultimatley appeared in the UK in January 1968 as Live at Kelvin Hall.
On April 21, 1967, The Kinks released the standalone single “Mister Pleasant,” a music hall observational backed with “Harry Rag” (Reprise US) and “This Is Where I Belong” (Pye Europe) — all Ray Davies compositions. Pye withheld the single from the UK market.
The Kinks recorded “Mister Pleasant” in February 1967 amid sessions for their next album, of which “Harry Rag” served as a taster for US audiences. The European b-side, “This Is Where I Belong,” is an outtake from the Face to Face sessions.
“Mister Pleasant” features guest trombonist John Beecham of the Mike Cotton Sound, a fellow act on the Kinks’ autumn ’64 package tour. Rasa Davies and Nicky Hopkins assume their respective roles on backing vocals and piano.
“Mister Pleasant” reached No. 2 in the Netherlands, No. 3 in Denmark, No. 4 in Belgium (Flanders region), and No. 12 in Germany. In Indochina, the song reached No. 3 in Singapore and No. 9 in Malaysia.
In France, Pye issued “Mister Pleasant” and “This Is Where I Belong” as an EP with two additional songs: “Two Sisters” (another taster from their upcoming album) and “Village Green,” an early song from Ray’s concept in-the-works. “Village Green” remained unavailable outside France until its inclusion as the (partial) title-track on the sixth Kinks studio album, released eighteen months after this single.
“Mister Pleasant” and “This Is Where I Belong” became non-album rarities until their inclusion on the 1972 compilation Kink Kronikles.
The Kinks recorded “Waterloo Sunset” in early April at Pye, where Ray took over the producer’s role from Shel Talmy, whose contract with the band expired that spring.Ray plays acoustic guitar and piano on the song, which features Dave Davies, Pete Quaife, and Rasa on backing vocals.
“Act Nice and Gentle” is a twangy strummalong that remained a non-album rarity until later CD reissues of The Kinks fifth studio album, which features “Waterloo Sunset” and the harpsichord-laden “Two Sisters.”
“Waterloo Sunset” reached No. 1 in the Netherlands and No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. It also went Top 5 in Ireland (No. 3), Australia (No. 4), Rhodesia (No. 3), Sweden (No. 4), and Denmark (No. 5). “Waterloo Sunset” peaked at No. 6 in Belgium (Flanders region) and No. 7 in Germany, New Zealand, and Norway.
The Kinks mimed “Waterloo Sunset” on the May 4 broadcast of TotP, which re-aired it across two fortnights amid spring hits by Arthur Conley (“Sweet Soul Music”), Chris Farlowe (“Yesterday’s Papers”), Jeff Beck (“Hi-Ho Silver Lining”), Jimi Hendrix Experience (“Purple Haze”), The Monkees (“A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You”), The Move (“I Can Hear the Grass Grow”), P.P. Arnold (“The First Cut Is the Deepest”), and The Who (“Pictures of Lily”).
“Death of a Clown”
On July 7, 1967, Dave Davies released his debut solo single: “Death of a Clown,” a folk tragicomedy backed with jovial mid-tempo “Love Me Till the Sun Shines.” Dave composed both songs with input on “Death of a Clown” by Ray, who contributes the “La-La-La” refrain, sung by Rasa. Both sides would reappear on their upcoming. This is the first of four Kinks-backed Dave solo singles from the late sixties.
Dave and The Kinks recorded both songs in June 1967 with Nicky Hopkins, who plays organ on “Love Me Till the Sun Shines” and finger-picked piano strings on “Death of a Clown,” hence the song’s tin-echo intro. Dave uses the sad traveling circus clown as a metaphor for the hectic travel schedule of a touring rock band.
Dave Davies mimed “Death of a Clown” on the July 13, 1967, broadcast of TotP, which twice re-aired the song amid summer hits by Amen Corner (“Gin House”), Aretha Franklin (“Respect”), The Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”), Desmond Dekker & the Aces (“007”), Lulu (“Let’s Pretend”), Pink Floyd (“See Emily Play”), Procol Harum (“A Whiter Shade of Pale”), Small Faces (“Here Come The Nice”), Stevie Wonder (“I Was Made to Love Her”), and The Turtles (“She’d Rather Be With Me”).
Something Else by The Kinks
The Kinks released their fifth album, Something Else by The Kinks, on September 15, 1967, on Pye and Reprise. It features “Waterloo Sunset,” “Harry Rag,” both sides of the Dave Davies single, and the French EP rarity “Two Sisters,” plus seven new originals.
Ray Davies explores serenity (“Lazy Old Sun”) and in-law conflicts (“Situation Vacant”) with forays into bossa nova (“No Return”) and Sinatra-esque balladry (“End of the Season”). The music hall style courses through “Afternoon Tea” and the martial “Tin Soldier Man.” Dave contributes “Funny Face,” a chipper tune with a jovial chorus.
“David Watts” (2:40)
“Death of a Clown” (3:15)
“Two Sisters” (2:03)
“No Return” (2:03)
“Harry Rag” (2:19)
“Tin Soldier Man” (2:53)
“Situation Vacant” (2:43)
“Love Me Till the Sun Shines” (3:23)
“Lazy Old Sun” (2:49)
“Afternoon Tea” (3:25)
“Funny Face” (2:29)
“End of the Season” (3:00)
“Waterloo Sunset” (3:16)
Sessions took place between January and July 1967 at Pye Studios. Shel Talmy produced the first round of tracks but severed ties with The Kinks after the April expiration of his contract. One track (“End of the Season”) dates from the earlier Face to Face sessions. Ray Davies self-produced all subsequent Kinks recordings.
On “Lazy Old Sun,” Ray makes early use of the Mellotron, an electro-mechanical keyboard with flute and string sounds, recently popularized by The Beatles on “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Nicky Hopkins plays harpsichord on “Two Sisters,” which features cello and viola arrangements by veteran English conductor David Whitaker (the orchestrator of Hopkin’s 1966 solo single “Mr. Big”). “Tin Soldier Man” features flute, saxophone, and trumpet by the Mike Cotton Sound.
Something Else is housed in a textured gray metallic sleeve with gradient flared letters and circular monochrome member pics. The back cover shows a circular group photo with aligned liner notes, which state:
“Welcome to Daviesland, Where all the little kinklings in the magic Kinkdom wear tiny black bowlers, rugby boots, soldier suits, drink half pints of bitter, carry cricket bats and ride in little Tube trains. Here all the little lady kinklings wear curlers in their hair, own fridges and washing machines, fry bacon and eggs, and take afternoon tea.”
The author defines Ray as a “Gulliver-like” lyricist who plucks “a small mortal from his musical World — turns him upside down to see where he was made — and replaces him gently but firmly in that great class society where all men are equal but some are more equal than others.” The writer further warns “never, never take a Davies composition at face value for so much goes on behind the words in the Wondrous World of the Brothers ‘D’ where a corner of the Kinkdom is forever England!”
In France, Pye issued “Tin Soldier Man” as a single (b/w “Love Me Till the Sun Shines”). Studio outtakes from the Something Else timeframe include “Lavender Hill,” “Rosemary Rose,” “Good Luck Charm,” and “Little Women.”
On October 13, 1967, The Kinks released “Autumn Almanac,” an acoustic music hall singalong with differing b-sides. US and European copies are backed with the Something Else opener “David Watts.” In the UK, this marked the first appearance of “Mr. Pleasant,” an April a-side in other markets. Spanish copies sport the translated title “Almanaque de Otoño.”
Ray drew lyrical inspiration from a neighborhood hunchback gardener in Muswell Hill.
The Kinks recorded “Autumn Almanac” in September 1967 at Pye, backed by Rasa and Nicky Hopkins, who plays piano and Mellotron on the track. The song exists in mono (the single) and stereo versions; the latter (found on later compilations) has psychedelic fade-out effects.
TotP aired “Autumn Almanac” as the outro song on their October 12 and 26 broadcasts, which featured autumn hits by the Bee Gees (“Massachusetts”), Bobbie Gentry (“Ode to Billy Joe”), The Foundations (“Baby Now That I’ve Found You”), The Hollies (“King Midas In Reverse”), Procol Harum (“Homburg”), The Troggs (“Love Is All Around”), The Who (“I Can See for Miles”), and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (“Zabadak!”). The Kinks mimed the song on the November 9 broadcast.
In early 1968, Pye issued “Autumn Almanac” in Canada, backed with “Act Nice and Gentle,” the elusive European “Waterloo Sunset” b-side.
“Susannah’s Still Alive”
On November 24, 1967, Dave Davies released his second solo single: “Susannah’s Still Alive” a standalone story number backed with the Something Else track “Funny Face,” his third of three contributions to that album (the one not represented on his prior single). As on Dave’s other Pye solo singles, he’s backed by The Kinks.
“Susannah’s Still Alive” is one of multiple Kinks songs from the period (along with “Polly” and “Rosy Won’t You Please Come Home”) about a troubled titular female subject. The woman in question is Sue Sheehan, Dave’s onetime girlfriend, whose parents forced them to separate after she became pregnant.
Ray Davies produced the song in October 1967 at Pye Studios, where he split piano chores with Nicky Hopkins. Ray also plays harmonica and acoustic guitar on the track.
In 1968, Pye combined Dave’s first two solo singles — his three Something Else contributions and “Susannah’s Still Alive” — on a 7″ EP titled Dave Davies Hits.
The Kinks made their first live appearance of 1968 with two shows on January 15 at the Bath Pavilion. On February 23, they appeared at Leicester’s Granby Hall for the University Rag Rave, a multi-act event with Traffic, The Move, and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
In March, The Kinks commenced sessions that ran at stop-start intervals through October and yielded more than twenty-five songs, including the contents of a new fifteen-song album that evolved from a planned Ray Davies solo project. The sessions also generated three non-album sides, a Dave Davies solo single, and multiple outtakes.
While The Kinks planned a new album on Pye for the autumn season, the stipulation of their Reprise contract required a new stateside release by summer. Ray submitted the band’s spring recordings for the proposed US-only album, tentatively titled Four More Respected Gentlemen.
“Wonderboy” stemmed from Ray’s wish to father a son. “Polly” takes its name from Polly Garter, a serial lover and child-bearer in the 1954 radio drama Under Milk Wood by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953). Ray initially planned to base the next Kinks album on Thomas’s drama. Rather than mirror the Garter character, Ray’s subject resembles a real-life Polly who ran the Kinks fan club but died of a drug overdose.
The Kinks recorded both sides in March 1968 at Pye, where sessions commenced that month on their next album. “Wonderboy” features backing vocals by Dave Davies, Pete Quaife, and Rasa. The band’s road manager, Ken Jones, plays bongos. “Polly” features string arrangements by David Whitaker.
“Wonderboy” reached No. 4 in the Netherlands, No. 6 in Sweden, and No. 20 in Denmark. The Kinks mimed it on the April 18 broadcast of TotP, which aired their spot amid spring hits by The Box Tops (“The Letter”), Spanky & Our Gang (“Like to Get to Know You”), The Paper Dolls (“Something Here In My Heart”), and Reparata & the Delrons (“Captain of Your Ship”).
Between April 6 and 28, The Kinks toured the UK cinema circuit with The Herd.
“Days,” like the prior single, came from sessions for their album in-progress. However, Ray earmarked “Days” for inclusion on the yet uncompleted album. Pye, however, insisted on a stopgap single. The Kinks recorded “Days” between May 27 and early June at Pye Studios, where Nicky Hopkins played piano, Mellotron (and possibly Harmonium) on the track.
“She’s Got Everything” originates from the February 1966 sessions that produced “Dedicated Follower of Fashion.” The song — recorded by the classic four-piece with no accompaniment — features both Davies brothers on electric guitar. Ray planned to make it the opening track on Four More Respected Gentlemen, scheduled for a November release on Reprise.
Given its chord structure, the release date of “She’s Got Everything” proved ironic when American rockers The Doors released a June 1968 single titled “Hello, I Love You,” which also has a three-chord pattern and cadence similar to “All Day and All of the Night.” Ray Davies filed a plagiarism suit that purportedly won him future earnings on “Hello, I Love You,” which reached No. 15 on the UK Singles Chart on the week of August 3, 1968.
“Days” reached No. 6 in the Netherlands and No. 10 on the UK NME and Disc and Music Echo charts (No. 12 Record Retailer). It peaked at No. 11 in Denmark and New Zealand and also went Top 20 in Sweden (No. 13) and Belgium (No. 17).
TotP aired “Days” on its July 11 broadcast and twice re-aired the song in August amid summer hits by The Equals (“Baby Come Back”), The Monkees (“D.W. Washburn”), Status Quo (“Ice In The Sun”), and Sly & the Family Stone (“Dance to the Music”).
Petula Clark covers “Days” on her 1968 Pye release Petula.
On August 30, 1968, Dave Davies released his third solo single: “Lincoln County,” an organ-driven uptempo singalong backed with “There Is No Life Without Love,” a muted, harmonized track with harpsichord. The Kinks back Dave on both sides.
Ray Davies produced the single in March 1968 at Pye Studios. He plays organ on “Lincoln County,” which features string arrangements by David Whitaker.
Both songs, along with Dave’s previous a-side, were marked for a solo album on Pye. As he stockpiled material for the unnamed project, it gained the title A Hole in the Sock of Dave Davies, based on a comment he made to the press when questioned on the topic.
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
The Kinks released their sixth album, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, on November 22, 1968, on Pye and Reprise. It contains fifteen Ray Davies compositions, including two with ‘village green’ in the title: the wistful opener and baroque-flavored “Village Green.” The songs explore the old English way of life and its recent conflicts with Americanization and European encroachment.
“The Village Green Preservation Society” (2:49)
“Do You Remember Walter” (2:28)
“Picture Book” (2:38)
“Johnny Thunder” (2:33)
“Last of the Steam-Powered Trains” (4:03)
“Big Sky” (2:49)
“Sitting by the Riverside” (2:21)
“Animal Farm” (2:57)
“Village Green” (2:08)
“Phenomenal Cat” (2:37)
“All of My Friends Were There” (2:23)
“Wicked Annabella” (2:40)
“People Take Pictures of Each Other” (2:10)
Ray produced and mixed the album between March and October 1968 at Pye Studios. In addition to vocals and rhythm guitar, he plays harmonica on “Last of the Steam-Powered Trains” and splits keyboard duties with Nicky Hopkins, who balanced Kinks commitments with concurrent albums by The Easybeats, Jeff Beck Group, and Giles Giles & Fripp. “Animal Farm” features strings and “Village Green” features oboe, cello, viola, and piccolo arrangements by David Whitaker.
The album evolved from “Village Green,” which The Kinks recorded in February 1967 as the conceptual catalyst for an album that morphed into Something Else By The Kinks. Ray set aside the concept for a possible solo album and stockpiled material for the project in tandem with new Kinks songs. Gradually, the two projects morphed into the next Kinks album.
The first round of sessions occurred in late March and early April, when The Kinks recorded four ultimate album tracks (“Do You Remember Walter?” “Picture Book,” “Johnny Thunder,” “Animal Farm”), plus both sides of the “Wonderboy” and “Lincoln Country” singles and multiple outtakes (“Berkeley Mews,” “Did You See His Name,” “Spotty Grotty Anna,” “Easy Come, There You Went,” “Mr. Songbird”). These were their last sessions engineered by Alan MacKenzie, who left Pye to work with Dutch blues-rockers The Bintangs.
In May, The Kinks recorded “Monica,” “Phenomenal Cat,” “Misty Water,” “Pictures In the Sand,” and “Days,” an intended album track that became a June standalone a-side. After a June 8–23 Swedish tour, The Kinks returned to Pye Studios and cut multiple tracks, including “Sitting By the Riverside,” “Starstruck,” “All of My Friends Were There,” “Wicked Annabella,” and “People Take Pictures of Each Other.” The engineer on these and subsequent sessions was Brian Humphries, a soundman on the 1967–68 Island titles The Story of Simon Simopath and All of Us by orchestral psychsters Nirvana.
In late June, Ray submitted fifteen songs — fourteen March–June recordings and the recently unearthed 1966 song “She’s Got Everything” — for the proposed summer Reprise release Four More Respected Gentlemen. However, when Reprise learned of the new Kinks album in-progress, they halted plans to see the coming results.
In August–September, The Kinks recorded two new Ray compositions: “Till Death Us Do Part” and “The Village Green Preservation Society,” the former commissioned for a namesake British comedy film. The latter became the title song to a finalized twelve-song album, which Pye released on September 27 in New Zealand and select Continental territories (Sweden, Norway, France, Italy) with the following tracklist:
“The Village Green Preservation Society” (2:49)
“Do You Remember Walter” (2:25)
“Picture Book” (2:36)
“Johnny Thunder” (2:30)
“Village Green” (2:08)
“Mr. Songbird” (2:25)
“Wicked Annabella” (2:41)
“Phenomenal Cat” (2:36)
“People Take Pictures of Each Other” (2:23)
Ray halted the UK release to expand the album into a two-record set. Pye balked at the notion for financial reasons but the two parties compromised with a fifteen-track running order that dropped “Days” and “Mr. Songbird” and added “Last of the Steam-Powered Trains,” “Big Sky,” “Sitting by the Riverside,” “Animal Farm,” and “All of My Friends Were There.” While “Days” remained widely available as a charting a-side, “Mr. Songbird” became an international rarity until its inclusion (with “Misty Water” and “Till Death Us Do Part”) on the 1973 Reprise release The Great Lost Kinks Album. Other Village Green outtakes (“Berkeley Mews,” “Did You See His Name”) appear on The Kinks Kronikles.
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Pye Records Studios with photography by John Prosser, who pictures the band side-to-side with translucent overlays of concentric rings (front) and ancient wall textures (gatefold). Prosser also photographed the semi-nude warpaint image on the 1969 self-titled album by Pye psychsters Velvet Fogg. Photographer Barrie Wentzell took the back-cover pic, which pictures The Kinks from afar in a grass field. The September twelve-track version has different covers by territory, all with pics from Wentzell’s field photo-shoot.
In light of Village Green Preservation Society, Reprise shelved Four More Respected Gentlemen, which would have featured three spring–summer singles sides (“Polly,” “Days,” “She’s Got Everything”), five Village Green cuts (“Monica,” “Johnny Thunder,” “Animal Farm,” “Picture Book,” “Phenomenal Cat”), and three songs that didn’t make that album’s final track-list (“Mr. Songbird,” “Berkeley Mews,” “Misty Water”). Contrary to the legend that The Great Lost Kinks Album constituted the cancelled 1968 Reprise album, the 1973 compilation only has two common tracks (“Mr. Songbird,” “Misty Water”) with the label’s planned tracklist for Four More Respected Gentlemen.
In January 1969, Reprise lifted “Starstruck” as a US Village Green single, backed with “Picture Book.” Meanwhile, ITV Granada persuaded Ray Davies to develop an teleplay with novelist Julian Mitchell. They developed Arthur, the story of an Victorian carpet layer whose contented life in Shangri-La is ravaged by World War I (which claims his brother), Korea (which claims his first-born son), and post-war austerity, which sends his younger son (and his family) to Australia in search of a better life.
Ray loosely based the character on Arthur Anning, the carpet-layer who married Rose Davies and moved her to Australia at the outset of The Kinks’ recording career. For the proposed teleplay, Ray wrote twelve new songs, the basis of a new Kinks album that would be their first rock opera: a format recently established by plot-driven 1968 concept albums by the Pretty Things (S.F. Sorrow) and the Small Faces (Ogdens Nut Gone Flake).
In April, Ray visited Los Angeles to produced Turtle Soup, the fifth and final album by American pop-rockers The Turtles. While there, Ray successfully lobbied the American Federation of Musicians to lift its four-year ban on stateside Kinks live performances.
Mid-year, as sessions advanced on the upcoming Kinks album, Ray submitted new tracks to Reprise along with an extra reel of twelve songs marked as “spare tracks,” possibly submitted under contractual obligation. The reel included outtakes from Something Else (“Lavender Hill,” “Rosemary Rose”), Village Green (“Berkeley Mews,” “Did You See His Name,” “Easy Come, There You Went”), and two songs recorded between January 28 and February 4 at BBC’s Riverside Sound Studios: “Where Did My Spring Go?” and “When I Turn Off the Living Room Light.”
“Hold My Hand”
Dave and The Kinks cut both sides in late December 1968 at Polydor Studios, London. The same sessions produced two further Dave originals, “Do You Wish to Be a Man?” and “I’m Crying.” In January, they cut two additional Dave songs, “Are You Ready Girl?” and “Mr. Shoemaker’s Daughter.”
All six songs, plus the prior single and the earlier a-side “Susannah’s Still Alive” were marked for Dave’s proposed album. However, an early 1969 hand injury dimmed Dave’s enthusiasm.
On March 28, 1969, The Kinks released “Plastic Man,” an upbeat singalong backed with “King Kong,” a churning rocker. Ray Davies wrote both sides, each titled after fictional characters from comic books and film.
Ray produced both sides in early March at Pye Studios. The BBC banned “Plastic Man” due to its body-part reference in the line “…plastic legs that reach up to his plastic bum.” The single appeared in Europe and Oceania but not North America.
“Plastic Man” was the fourteenth non-album Kinks UK a-side (seventeenth counting Dave’s last three singles) and their last for five years. The sessions that produced this single marked their final recordings with Pete Quaife, who left the Kinks permanently in April 1966, two years and five months after he reclaimed the slot from his temporary replacement, John Dalton, who resumed his role as Kinks bassist.
Quaife formed the rustic-rock band Mapleoak with an English drummer and two Canadians (the band name derived from their nationalities). He played on their 1970 Decca single “Son of a Gun” but left the band (and the music industry) by the time of their 1971 self-titled album.
“King Kong” made its first US appearance on the 1972 Reprise compilation The Kinks Kronikles. “Plastic Man” became an elusive rarity that only surfaced on the (soon withdrawn) 1973 Reprise release The Great Lost Kinks Album.
“Drivin'” | “Mindless Child of Motherhood”
“Drivin'” served as at taster of their album in-progress. Traffic soundman Brian Humphries engineered the track amid work on albums by Man (2 Ozs. of Plastic With a Hole In the Middle) and Pink Floyd.
“Mindless Child of Motherhood” is Dave’s call-out to Sue Sheehan, the elusive woman who bore his first child (out of wedlock) when both were teenagers. Each verse dramatizes his fruitless attempts to locate her and his offspring.
This was their second single with bassist John Dalton, who played on their November 1966 single “Dead End Street” during his earlier five-month stint with the band.
Reprise didn’t issue this single in the US, where “Drivin'” first appeared on its corresponding album and “Mindless Child of Motherhood” became a 1970 b-side.
On September 12, 1969, The Kinks previewed their now-completed album with a second advance single: “Shangri-La,” the epic centerpiece of the concept backed with “This Man, He Weeps Tonight,” another Kinks-backed Dave Davies number.
Ray Davies produced both songs in May–June 1969 at Pye Studios.
“This Man, He Weeps Tonight” and “Mindless Child of Motherhood” would have completed Dave’s solo album, which he submitted to Reprise in July 1969 under the title Lincoln County. By the time this single hit shelves, label exec’s passed on Dave’s proposed album.
“This Man, He Weeps Tonight” remained an elusive rarity until its 1973 appearance on The Great Lost Kinks Album.
Meanwhile, Pye pushed back the release date of The Kinks’ new album amid production delays on Arthur, the corresponding teleplay. When Granada rescheduled the production for December, Pye green-lit the finished album as an independent product.
Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
The Kinks released their seventh album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), on October 10, 1969, on Pye and Reprise. It features the two pre-released a-sides and ten further numbers that chart the odyssey of Arthur Morgan, a simple family man of old England (“Victoria”) who lives in a humble London abode (“Shangri-La”) and goes on weekend rides (“Drivin”’) and reminisces about old times (“Young and Innocent Days”). His world is rocked by political turmoil (“Mr. Churchill Says”), wartime family casualties (“Some Mother’s Son”), post-war rationing (“She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina”), and the departure of his son and grandchildren to the promised land (“Australia”) — factors that cause his disillusionment (“Nothing to Say”).
1. “Victoria” (3:40)
2. “Yes Sir, No Sir” (3:46)
3. “Some Mother’s Son” (3:25)
4. “Drivin'” (3:21)
5. “Brainwashed” (2:34)
6. “Australia” (6:46)
1. “Shangri-La” (5:20)
2. “Mr. Churchill Says” (4:42)
3. “She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina” (3:07)
4. “Young and Innocent Days” (3:21)
5. “Nothing to Say” (3:08)
6. “Arthur” (5:27)
Sessions took place in May–July 1969 at Pye Studios, where Ray Davies produced and played rhythm guitar and select keyboards (piano, harpsichord) on Arthur, which features Dave as co-lead vocalist on “Australia” and the title track.
Arthur features string and brass arrangements by Lew Warburton, an arranger on 1969 albums by Genesis (From Genesis to Revelation) and Status Quo. Pye soundman Andrew Hendriksen engineered Arthur (barring “Drivin”’) in sequence with titles by Arcadium (Breathe Awhile), Woody Kern (The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk), and Writing On the Wall (The Power of the Picts).
Arthur is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Bob Lawrie. The front shows momentos of Morgan’s life (tea pot, royal mug, Shangri-La dollhouse) before a drowning hand with a Kinks flag. The inner-gate has a vertical illustration of a kangaroo in boxing gloves (Australia) with the colors of the Union Jack emitted from the distant sun (England). The back cover has member pics and liner notes by Julian Mitchell and journalist Geoffrey Cannon. Original copies contain an insert of Queen Victoria with Morgan’s Shangri-La in hand.
US Reprise copies replace Cannon’s blurb with liner notes by Rolling Stone contributor John Mendelsohn, an ongoing Kinks writer. The Queen Victoria illustration appears on a two-fold lyrical insert.
Arthur launched with the accompanying third a-side “Victoria,” a transatlantic charting single backed with “Mr. Churchill Says” (Pye) and “Brainwashed” (Reprise US). Soon after the album’s release, plans ceased on the proposed teleplay when the producer failed to secure funds.
In 1970, two songs from the “spare tracks” reel surfaced on official releases. “When I Turn Out the Living Room Light” appears on the 1970 US Warner comp The Big Ball, a two-record label sampler with cuts by Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Pentangle, Small Faces, and Van Morrison. “Berkeley Mews” made its first appearance on a June hit single.
In May, The Kinks welcomed a fifth member: keyboardist John Gosling (b. February 6, 1948), a native of Paignton, Devon. Though initially hired for their US tour, he remained for eight years and nine studio albums.
“Lola” is one of the earliest songs about a transgendered subject. Ray sings as a timid homespun virgin whose first sexual hookup involves a tall, aggressive, deep-voiced woman who turns out to be a man in drag.
Ray based the song on two incidents. The first involved Kinks manager Robert Wace, who danced with a mystery diva at a Paris all-nighter, apparently too intoxicated to notice or care about the person’s stubble. The second involved a Soho drag party that Ray and Mick Avory attended at the invite of one Michael McGrath, an alternative lifestyles practitioner who fancied The Kinks because of their name. In Ray’s research of the subject matter, he met with New York transexual Candy Darling, a member of Andy Warhol’s Factory milieu.
“Berkeley Mews” is named after a London street near Pye Record’s offices at Marble Arch. The Kinks recorded “Berkeley Mews” in the spring of 1968 at Pye Studios during the Village Green sessions. Nicky Hopkins plays piano and Mellotron on the track, which features an unidentified saxophonist.
Ray Davies produced “Lola” in April–May 1970 at Studio Morgan in Willesden, London. They recorded five takes of the song before Ray achieved a satisfactory version. He used a vintage Dobro resonator guitar in combination with a Martin acoustic guitar for the three-chord opening strum. “Lola” marks the debut of fifth Kink John Gosling, who plays baby grand piano on the track, which also features Kinks road manager Ken Jones on maracas. The May sessions produced another character-driven track, “Powerman.”
“Lola” topped charts in multiple European territories, including Ireland and the Netherlands (both No. 1), Austria and Sweden (both No. 2), and Belgium (No. 3). Abroad, “Lola” reached No. 1 in New Zealand and South Africa and No. 2 in Canada. “Lola” also reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart, where it was held off the top spot by “In the Summertime,” the seasonal skiffle novelty by Mungo Jerry.
The Kinks mimed “Lola” on the June 18 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song four times amid summer hits by Audience (“Belladonna Moonshine”), Cat Stevens (“Lady D’Arbanville”), Chicago (“25 or 6 to 4”), Fleetwood Mac (“The Green Manalishi”), Free (“All Right Now”), Jonathan Kelly (“Don’t You Believe It”), Joni Mitchell (“Big Yellow Taxi”), Miguel Rios (“Song of Joy”), and Ten Years After (“Love Like a Man”).
“Lola” sparked The Kinks’ comeback in the US, where it reached No. 8 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Reprise single marked the first US appearance of Dave Davies’ epic rocker “Mindless Child of Motherhood,” which later appeared on The Kink Kronikles.
In September, The Kinks were scheduled for the Open Air Love & Peace Festival in Fehmarn, Germany (with Faces, Fat Mattress, Fotheringay, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, and the Keef Hartley Band) and the first annual Glastonbury Festival. They pulled from both events at short notice. The Fehmarn event marked the last official concert appearance of Jimi Hendrix.
Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
The Kinks released their eighth album, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, on November 27, 1970, on Pye and Reprise. It features the two titular songs and multiple numbers that satirize parties of the music world, from aspirants (“The Contenders”) and publishers (“Denmark Street”) to mediums (“Top of the Pop”) and managers (“The Moneygoround”).
Despite the album’s comedic vibe, Side One contains “Get Back in Line,” a poignant song about a family man’s humbling trips to the breadline. Dave Davies contributes “Strangers” and “Rats,” a vicious riff-rocker. A second single, “Apeman,” accompanied the album’s release and continued the band’s transatlantic chart renaissance.
1. “The Contenders” (2:42)
2. “Strangers” (3:20)
3. “Denmark Street” (2:00)
4. “Get Back in Line” (3:04)
5. “Lola” (4:01)
6. “Top of the Pops” (3:40)
7. “The Moneygoround” (1:42)
8. “This Time Tomorrow” (3:22)
9. “A Long Way from Home” (2:27)
10. “Rats” (2:40)
11. “Apeman” (3:52)
12. “Powerman” (4:16)
13. “Got to Be Free” (3:00)
After the April–May sessions that produced “Powerman” and “Lola,” The Kinks did a six-week US tour. They returned to London’s Morgan Studios in August–September and cut the remaining songs with engineer Mike Bobak, a soundman on recent 1969–70 albums by Chicken Shack, Dada, Little Free Rock, Pussy, Red Dirt, and Steamhammer.
Ray Davies plays harmonica, keyboards, and Dobro resonator on Lola Versus Powerman, which features Dave on banjo. The brothers harmonize on “This Time Tomorrow” and “Powerman.” John Gosling earns his first credits as a full band member on keyboards, piano, and organ.
Lola Versus Powerman is housed in a white gatefold with a composite sketch based on the facial features of each member. The inner-gates contain lyrics and a composite Kinks enactment of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (repeated on back).
“Apeman” accompanied the album as the second a-side, backed with “Rats.” It reached No. 6 in Germany, No. 10 in Sweden, and No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart. It went Top 20 in South Africa (No. 12), the Netherlands (No. 14), and Canada (No. 19) and reached the upper-middle of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Kinks mimed “Apeman” on the Janurary 7, 1971, episode of TotP, which thrice aired the song amid winter hits by Ashton Gardner & Dyke (“Resurrection Shuffle”), Faces (“Had Me a Real Good Time”), McGuinness Flint (“When I’m Dead and Gone”), Mike D’Abo (“Miss Me In the Morning”), and T. Rex (“Ride a White Swan”).
As the title indicates, Ray Davies conceived Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround as a two-part album. However, The Kinks switched labels and shifted their attention to a new project with no songs completed for Part Two.
The Kinks promoted Lola Versus Powerman on an eleven-city US tour that included shows with Atlee (Nov. 10: Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica), Smith (11/23: Pueblo Memorial Auditorium, Pueblo), Teegarden & Van Winkle (11/28: Clowes Memorial Hall, Indianapolis), and Dreams (12/3: Shakespeare Festival Theater, Stratford, Conn.). In San Francisco, The Kinks did a three-night engagement (Nov. 12–14) at the Fillmore West, supported by Ballin’ Jack, Juicy Lucy, and rising star Elton John. They wrapped the tour with two nights (Dec. 4–5) at New York’s Fillmore East, supported by Love and Quatermass.
The Kinks played fourteen UK shows between February 5 and mid-March, including dates with Danta (2/23: The Bumpers Club, London), Octopus (2/24: Top Rank Suite, Leicester), and Terry Reid (2/28: Colston Hall, Bristol). On February 26, The Kinks appeared at Lancaster’s Grant Hall for the Rag Ball, a multi-act event with Quintessence and Shakin Stevens & The Sunsets. On March 13, they played a second Rag Ball at Brighton’s Big Apple, this time with Patto and Spirogyra.
In late March, The Kinks played three New York shows supported by hard-rockers Trapeze, a recent signing to the Moodies Threshold label. On March 31, The Kinks played Attleborough Community Theater in Massachusetts, supported by Liverpool legend Jackie Lomax.
As their seven-year contract with Pye reached its expiration, The Kinks delivered one final album (a soundtrack) and signed with RCA Victor worldwide.
In March 1971, The Kinks released Percy, a soundtrack to the British comedy film directed by Ralph Thomas (Carry On… series) and starring Hywel Bennett, Elke Sommer, and Britt Ekland. The film centers on Edwin, a young shy man whose penis is mutilated when a womanizer falls on top of him during a suicide plunge. Edwin inherits the dead man’s penis and womanizing ways.
Ray Davies composed the soundtrack album’s seven vocal numbers and six instrumentals. Percy contains four ballads (“God’s Children,” “The Way Love Used to Be,” “Moments”) and two mid-tempo rustic numbers (“Animals in the Zoo,” “Dreams”). Most of the instrumentals are interlude length apart from “Completely” and the blues-jam version of “Lola.” The penultimate track, “Willesden Green,” is an American-style country pastiche with vocals by John Dalton.
1. “God’s Children” (3:16)
2. “Lola” (inst. 4:46)
3. “The Way Love Used to Be” (2:15)
4. “Completely” (inst. 3:41)
5. “Running Round Town” (inst. 1:06)
6. “Moments” (2:57)
1. “Animals in the Zoo” (2:22)
2. “Just Friends” (2:38)
3. “Whip Lady” (inst. 1:20)
4. “Dreams” (3:45)
5. “Helga” (inst. 1:57)
6. “Willesden Green” (2:27) This is the only released Kinks song with lead vocals by a non-Davies member.
7. “God’s Children – End” (inst. 0:29)
The Kinks recorded Percy in September–October 1970 at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London. Ray plays harmonica on “Completely” and “Running Round Town.” The brothers split electric and acoustic guitar tracks across Percy, the second Kinks project with John Gosling, who plays baby grand piano, Hammond organ, and electric piano on the soundtrack, which features string arrangements by film composer Stanley Myers. The instrumental “Lola” features the Mike Cotton Sound brass.
On May 29, The Kinks lauched a seven-day tour of Australia, where they played Brisbane’s Festival Hall, supported by Ted Mulry & Hot Cottage. After touch-downs in Canberra and Melbourne, The Kinks played the Adelaide Apollo, supported by Spectrum and Daddy Cool (6/4).
On August 20, The Kinks played the Ruisrock Festival, a three-day event on the isle of Ruissalo, in Turku, Finland, with sets by Canned Heat, Elonkorjuu, Fairport Convention, Flasket Brinner, Hardin & York, the Jeff Beck Group, Juicy Lucy, The Pink Fairies, Tasavallan Presidentti, and Yellow. The Kinks played Day 1 (Friday) along with Culpeper’s Orchard and Pete Brown & Piblokto!
The Kinks released their tenth studio album, Muswell Hillbillies, on November 24, 1971, on RCA. It features twelve Ray Davies originals about life in the North London district of Muswell Hill, the Davies brother’s breeding ground. The songs concern local rituals (“Alcohol,” “Have a Cuppa Tea”) and the conflict between new and old (“Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues”) and the starry-eyed dreams of the working class (“Oklahoma U.S.A.”).
Musically, Muswell Hillbillies combines English music hall with Dixieland and Hollywood country — both influences in the Davies household via fifties American musical films like Oklahoma!
1. “20th Century Man” (5:57)
2. “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues” (3:32)
3. “Holiday” (2:40)
4. “Skin and Bone” (3:39)
5. “Alcohol” (3:35)
6. “Complicated Life” (4:02)
1. “Here Come the People in Grey” (3:46)
2. “Have a Cuppa Tea” (3:45)
3. “Holloway Jail” (3:29)
4. “Oklahoma U.S.A.” (2:38)
5. “Uncle Son” (2:33)
6. “Muswell Hillbilly” (4:58)
Sessions tool place between August and October 1971 at Morgan Studios, where Mike Bobak co-engineered the album with Richard Edwards, a soundman on 1970–71 albums by Hungry Wolf, Michael Gibbs, Pink Floyd (Meddle), Strawbs, Trees, Trapeze (Medusa), and T2 (It’ll All Work Out In Boomland).
Ray — who now went by his full name Raymond Douglas Davies — plays acoustic guitar and Dobro resonator on Muswell Hillbillies, which features Dave on lead and slide guitar as well as banjo. John Gosling, now three albums into his Kinks tenure, plays Hammond organ, piano, and accordian.
The Mike Cotton Sound brass — led by trumpeter Cotton with saxist–clarinetist Alan Holmes and trombonist–tuba player John Beecham (Satisfaction) — augment Muswell Hillbillies and the next two Kinks albums. Band roadie Ken Jones plays harmonica on “Here Come the People in Grey.” Veteran session vocalist Vicki Brown does sings backup on “Skin and Bone” and “Holloway Jail.”
Muswell Hillbillies is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by the Bloomsbury Group. It shows The Kinks in casual tire amid patrons of the historic Archway Tavern near Muswell Hill. Bloomsbury also designed 1971 covers to Vertigo titles by Black Sabbath, Magna Carta, Paul Jones, and Uriah Heep.
RCA lifted “20th Century Man” as a single (b/w “Skin and Bone”) in the US, Australian, and the Netherlands. It reached No. 9 in Boston, a seventies-era Kinks stronghold.
The Kinks promoted Muswell Hillbillies with an autumn US tour that included dates with the Manhattan Transfer (11/19: Alumni Fieldhouse, Middletown, CT), Glass Harp (11/21: Carnegie Hall, NYC), Good God (11/26: Spectrum, Philadelphia), Boomerang (12/2: Dome Auditorium, Oyster Bay, NY), and two dates with Yes, then on the verge of a stateside breakthrough. The two acts played triple-bills with the Allman Brothers (11/27: Ritz Theater, NYC) and the Mahavishnu Orchestra (11/28: Pritchard Gym at SUNY, Stony Brook, NY).
The Kinks performed “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues” and “Have a Cuppa Tea” on the January 4, 1972, broadcast of The Old Grey Whistle Test. On February 15, they played a Rag Ball at Manchester’s Owens Union with Patto, Nazareth, and Bell & Arc. They embarked on a second US Muswell leg that included dates with Badfinger (2/27: Berkeley Community Theater) and multiple stops with Fairport and Lindisfarne, including a two-night engagement (March 2–3) at Carnegie Hall.
The Kink Kronikles
Kronikles contains twenty-eight songs, including fourteen from their 1966–71 albums Face to Face (“Sunny Afternoon,” “Holiday in Waikiki,” “Fancy”), Something Else (“Waterloo Sunset,” “David Watts,” “Death of a Clown”), Village Green (“The Village Green Preservation Society”), Arthur (“Victoria,” “Shangri-La”), Lola Verses Powerman (“Lola,” “Apeman,” “Get Back in Line”), and Percy (“God’s Children,” “Willesden Green”).
The non-album material includes five standalone a-sides first released (in the following order) between November 1966 to June 1968: “Dead End Street,” “Mr. Pleasant,” “Autumn Almanac,” “Wonderboy,” “Days” — plus the November 1967 Kink-backed Dave Davies a-side “Susannah’s Still Alive.”
Kronikles also contains seven exclusive b-sides, including four that correspond to the aforementioned singles: “Big Black Smoke,” “This Is Where I Belong,” “Polly,” and “She’s Got Everything.” (The b-side to “Autumn Almanac” was the Something Else track “David Watts”). The most recent b-sides come from 1969–70 album singles: “Mindless Child of Motherhood” (b-side of “Drivin”’) and the Village Green outtake “Berkeley Mews” (b-side of “Lola”). The rarest b-side at the time of Kronikle‘s release was “King Kong,” included without its a-side (the Pye-only 1969 single “Plastic Man”).
Kronikles marked the debut of “Did You See His Name?” — a 1968 outtake from the Village Green sessions.
The Kink Kronikles is housed in a gatefold sleeve with pictures of a mounted Royal Guard (front) and a backshot of Palace Guards (back). Avid ‘Kink kronikler’ John Mendelsohn wrote the inner-gate liner notes, which extol the band’s virtues in flowery verbose terms with an emphasis on Ray Davies’ unique wit; summarized at the outset by a couplet from “Fancy” — “No one can penetrate me. They only see what’s in their own fancy.”
At the time he wrote the Kronikles liner notes, Mendelsohn played keyboards in Christopher Milk, whose singular album (Some People Will Drink Anything!) appeared in 1972 on Reprise. Three years earlier, he cut an album of demos with Halfnelson, an LA avant-pop combo that morphed into Sparks.
The Kink Kronikles reached the upper-half of the Billboard 200 and introduced new American fans to the band’s English-centered 1966–69 period.
On May 6, 1972, The Kinks played the Bickershaw Festival, a three-day Wigan event with sets by Brinsley Schwarz, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Captain Beyond, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, Family, Hawkwind, Linda Lewis, Mike Westbrook, Sam Apple Pie, Stackridge, Incredible String Band, and Wishbone Ash.
On May 6, The Kinks played the British Rock Meeting, a three-day event on Green Island in Germersheim, Germany, with sets by A.R. & Machines, Abacus, Amon Duul II, Atomic Rooster, Beggars Opera, Buddy Miles, Ekseption, Eloy, Family, Frumpy, Guru Guru, Humble Pie, Karthago, Linda Lewis, Lindisfarne, Max Merritt & The Meteors, Nazareth, Osibisa, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pink Floyd, Quiver, Rory Gallagher, Spencer Davis, Status Quo, The Strawbs, The Incredible String Band, Uriah Heep, and Wishbone Ash.
On June 3, The Kinks headlined Newcastle’s City Hall, by the John Miles Set and Brass Alley.
Everybody’s in Show-Biz
The Kinks released their eleventh album, Everybody’s in Show-Biz, on August 25, 1972, on RCA. It’s a double-album with one record of new studio material and a second comprised of live numbers from their March 2–3 Carnegie engagement.
The studio record contains songs about food (“Maximum Consumption,” “Hot Potatoes”) and the road life (“Sitting in My Hotel,” “Motorway”) with musical arrangements steeped in ragtime and Dixieland. Side Two contains a steelpan novelty (“Supersonic Rocket Ship”) and “Celluloid Heroes,” an ode to the legends of classic Hollywood.
1. “Here Comes Yet Another Day” (3:53)
2. “Maximum Consumption” (4:04)
3. “Unreal Reality” (3:32)
4. “Hot Potatoes” (3:25)
5. “Sitting in My Hotel” (3:20)
6. “Motorway” (3:28)
7. “You Don’t Know My Name” (2:34)
8. “Supersonic Rocket Ship” (3:29)
9. “Look a Little on the Sunny Side” (2:47)
10. “Celluloid Heroes” (6:19)
Sessions took place between March and June 1972 at Morgan Studios. As on Muswell Hillbillies, Ray Davies plays acoustic and Dobro resonator guitar while Dave plays lead, slide, and banjo. Dave sings lead on “You Don’t Know My Name” and plays 12-string acoustic on “Celluloid Heroes,” which features organist Dave Rowberry of the Mike Cotton Sound. This is the third consecutive Kinks album with MCS brass.
The live record features one full number apiece from Arthur (“Brainwashed”) and Lola Verses Powerman (“Top of the Pops”) and five from Muswell Hillbillies: “Holiday,” “Muswell Hillbilly,” “Alcohol,” “Skin and Bone,” and “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues.” They perform snippets of Broadway themes (“Baby Face,” “Mr. Wonderful”) and “Banana Boat Song,” a trad calypso number. The record ends with an audience chorus of “Lola.”
1. “Top of the Pops” (4:33)
2. “Brainwashed” (2:59)
3. “Mr. Wonderful” (0:42)
4. “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues” (4:00)
5. “Holiday” (3:53)
6. “Muswell Hillbilly” (3:10)
7. “Alcohol” (5:19)
8. “Banana Boat Song” (1:42)
9. “Skin and Bone” (3:54)
10. “Baby Face” (1:54)
11. “Lola” (1:40)
Everybody’s in Show-Biz is housed in a green gatefold sleeve with colorized member pics and comic illustrations of moviegoers and film stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Mae West, W.C. Fields, Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Clark Gable, and Carmen Miranda. Original copies include yellow lyric inner-sleeves with duplicated illustrations.
The Kinks released “Supersonic Rocket Ship” in May 1972 as an advance single, backed with “You Don’t Know My Name.” It reached No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart. “Celluloid Heroes” followed the album’s release as a second single, backed with “Hot Potatoes.”
The Kinks presented Everybody’s in Show-Biz on an eleven-city US tour that included one show with Argent (9/1: Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh) and a triple-bill with Flash and Foghat (8/25: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago). Their eleven-date UK leg included shows with Hookfoot (10/4: Top Rank Suite, Cardiff), Blackfoot Sue (10/16: Free Trade Hall, Manchester), and multiple shows with Birtha. The second US leg (fourteen stops) included dates with Captain Beefheart (11/1: Henry & Edsel Ford Auditorium, Detroit), Steely Dan (10/28: Music Hall, Houston), and multiple shows with Lindisfarne. The Kinks wrapped 1972 with UK–European dates with Silverhead (12/1: Hatfield Polytechnic), Peter Bardens‘ Camel (12/9: Imperial College, London), and Sandy Coast (12/15: Amsterdam Concert Hall).
Over the 1972–73 holiday season, Ray Davies conceived a rock musical that explored the dark aftermath of the vignettes in The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. Whereas the 1968 album presents humble slices of life in a quaint, unaffected community, the new work would be a plot-driven narrative about the cynicism that takes hold of the Village Green residents when nefarious, competing entities come to power.
On January 14, 1973, The Kinks performed a new bactch of songs for the project, tentatively titled Preservation, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London, supported by The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra, a comedy–folk troupe. After a round of February UK dates with Babe Ruth and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Kinks recorded the planned double-album in March at Morgan Studios. They issued an advance single — “One of the Survivors” (b/w “Scrapheap City”) — to promote on their April US tour. Upon their return to the UK, Ray decided to scrap the Morgan tracks and rerecord the material at his newly built Konk Studios in Hornsey, near Muswell Hill. Preservation expanded to three LPs split into two acts.
Meanwhile, the non-release of Percy by Reprise entitled the US label to one more Kinks album. With the band now signed to RCA, Reprise dipped into its vaults of unreleased Kinks tracks to assemble the long-rumored “missing” album from the late sixties.
The Great Lost Kinks Album
In January 1973, Reprise issued The Great Lost Kinks Album, a collection of fourteen rare and unearthed songs from the band’s 1966–71 period. Most of the songs stem from the Something Else and Village Green sessions apart from “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” (the “Sunny Afternoon” b-side) and “The Way Love Used to Be” (from the Percy soundtrack).
The Great Lost Kinks Album contains two outtakes apiece from the sessions for Something Else (“Lavender Hill,” “Rosemary Rose”) and Village Green (“Pictures in the Sand,” “Misty Water”). Another track from the latter sessions, “Mr. Songbird,” appears on the early twelve-track European version of TKAtVGPS but not on the canonical fifteen-track US/UK version.
The album also contains three 1968–69 songs commissioned for British TV: “Til Death Do Us Part,” “Where Did the Spring Go?” and “When I Turn Out the Living Room Light.” The last of those appears on the 1970 US Warner comp The Big Ball.
“Plastic Man,” a 1969 Pye a-side (unissued at the time in the US), appears on Side Two (its b-side, “King Kong,” appears on The Kinks Kronikles).
The album also gathers three songs from the unfinished Dave Davies solo album: “There Is No Life Without Love” (his 1968 “Lincoln County” b-side), “This Man He Weeps Tonight” and “Groovy Movies” (both issued for the first time here).
Of its fourteen songs, The Great Lost Kinks Album contains four songs released earlier in Pye territories (“I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “Plastic Man,” “There Is No Life Without Love,” “The Way Love Used to Be”); one released in select European markets (“Mr. Songbird”); and two released in the US (INLEE, “When I Turn Out the Living Room Light”). Of those six songs, only the Percy inclusion appeared on a finalized album tracklist.
The Great Lost Kinks Album appeared in the US only without the band’s knowledge. Though long believed to constitute the shelved 1968 album Four More Respected Gentlemen, the 1973 release only contains two songs (“Mr. Songbird,” “Misty Water”) earmarked by Reprise for the earlier title’s tracklist, which otherwise overlapped with Village Green contents. The eight unearthed songs mostly come from the 1969 “spare tracks” reel that also contained “Berkeley Mews” and “Did You See His Name?” (both released on Kinks Kronikles).
As a companion piece to The Kink Kronikles, John Mendelsohn wrote the liner notes to The Great Lost Kinks Album. He compares its contents favorably to the current Kinks iteration that (at the time of writing) most recently toured behind Everybody’s in Show-Biz.
Though Ray Davies gave Reprise the spare reel as an act of contractual fulfillment, he considered most of its contents unsuited for general release. He learned about The Great Lost Kinks Album months after its release when an American fan mailed him a copy. Ray filed suit against Reprise, which deleted the album from its catalog in 1975, despite respectable sales among American Kinkophiles.
Preservation Act 1
The Kinks released their twelfth album, Preservation Act 1, on November 16, 1973, on RCA. It features ten lyrical numbers that present the current state of the Village Green: a once-quaint community overrun by a dissilusioned populace with corrupt leaders. As people survive on dead-end jobs and dreams of stardom, a spiritual breadman (Mr. Black) challanges the ruthless leader (Flash). One character from the original Village Green album, Johnny Thunders, reappears as an older man.
1. “Morning Song” (2:00)
2. “Daylight” (3:19)
3. “Sweet Lady Genevieve” (3:26)
4. “There’s a Change in the Weather” (2:59)
5. “Where Are They Now?” (3:28)
6. “One of the Survivors” (4:31)
1. “Cricket” (2:56)
2. “Money and Corruption/I Am Your Man” (6:01)
3. “Here Comes Flash” (2:41)
4. “Sitting in the Midday Sun” (3:47)
5. “Demolition” (4:07)
The Kinks first recorded Act 1 as Preservation, an intended double-album, in March 1973 at Morgan Studios. Ray Davies decided to re-record the album at Konk, where sessions tool place in July amid ongoing live commitments. Of the March recordings, only “One of the Survivors” (released as an April US a-side) appears on Act 1.
The Kinks welcome five backing singers and the now-standard three-piece brass section on Act 1, which retains the MCS players Alan Holmes and John Beecham along with trumpeter Laurie Brown. The backing singers include Sue Brown,
, onetime Parlophone artist Lewis Rich, and Scottish folk singer Krysia Kocjan, who recorded earlier with the Natural Acoustic Band and recently cut a solo album (Krysia) on RCA.
Act 1 is housed in a single sleeve with photography by Chris Hopper. It shows The Kinks and their expanded troupe in front of a big yellow Flash mural (front) and a fish-eye view of the denim-clad ensemble under a tree (back).
RCA issued “One of the Survivors” as a US single in April, seven months ahead of Act 1. A re-recorded version of the b-side, “Scrapheap City,” later appeared on Act 2.
In June, The Kinks released “Sitting in the Midday Sun” as a transatlantic taster of the Konk sessions, backed in the US with “Sweet Lady Genevieve” and abroad with “One of the Survivors.” In September, RCA issued “Sweet Lady Genevieve” as a UK a-side, backed with “Sitting in My Hotel” from Everybody’s in Show-Biz.
The Kinks launched the Preservation Tour, a three-month trek with ten UK shows (February 26 – March 23) and two US dates (April 3 – May 18). On April 12, they played Philadelphi’s Spectrum, supported by King Crimson and Peter Frampton‘s Camel. Other dates featured support by Leo Sayer (4/17: Mershon Auditorium, Columbus), Kansas (5/9: Celebrity Theater, Phoenix), Maggie Bell (5/10: Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles), and Lynyrd Skynyrd (5/11: Warnors Theater, Fresno).
As The Kinks readied the sequel to Act 1, Ray Davies established Konk Records, an outlet for unsigned artists who used the Hornsey studio. Its first release was Stage Door Johnnies, the third album by twenty-year-old singer–songwriter Claire Hamill, who made two prior albums as a teen prodigy on Island Records.
Between the two Preservation tours, Ray Davies played the male lead in Starmaker, a late-night drama about a rock star (Davies) who trades places with an ordinary working man named Norman, whose wife (played by June Ritchie) plays along with the switch. After a short time in Norman’s role, he loses his starpower and gets trapped in the ordinary life. Starmaker aired on September 4, 1974, on ITV Granada. The Kinks appear in the drama, which features songs from their followup to the Preservation series.
Preservation Act 2
The Kinks released their thirteenth album, the two-record Preservation Act 2, on May 8, 1974, on RCA. The double-album chronicles the power struggle between the corrupt Village Green leader Mr. Flash and his pious opponent, Mr. Black. Eventually, Black turns Flash and his cronies into robots and enacts strict moral codes on the now-dystopian community.
1. “Announcement” (0:41)
2. “Introduction to Solution” (2:43)
3. “When a Solution Comes” (3:40)
4. “Money Talks” (3:44)
5. “Announcement” (0:55)
6. “Shepherds of the Nation” (4:17)
1. “Scum of the Earth” (2:45)
2. “Second-Hand Car Spiv” (4:01)
3. “He’s Evil” (4:25)
4. “Mirror of Love” (3:26)
5. “Announcement” (0:34)
1. “Nobody Gives” (6:33)
2. “Oh Where Oh Where Is Love?” (3:40)
3. “Flash’s Dream (The Final Elbow)” (4:17)
4. “Flash’s Confession” (4:06)
1. “Nothing Lasts Forever” (3:42)
2. “Announcement” (0:20)
3. “Artificial Man” (5:30)
4. “Scrapheap City” (3:16)
5. “Announcement” (1:05)
6. “Salvation Road” (3:20)
The Kinks recorded Act 2 between January and March 1974 at Konk Studios, where Pamela Travis and Sue Brown resumed their roles as backing vocalists along with American Maryann Price (Asleep at the Wheel, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks). Act 2 retains the Act 1 brass section (Holmes, Brown, Beechman) and features Welsh stage and screen actor Christopher Timothy as the “announcer.”
Roger Beale engineered Act 2 in succession with Stage Door Johnnies. “Oh Where Oh Where Is Love?” and “Salvation Road” come from the Act 1 sessions.
Act 2 is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Bob Searles. It shows a broken billboard in a barren valley with Ray Davies under the titular neon sign in character as Mr. Flash (top hat, bow-tie, color-patterned jacket, cigar). The five-man Kinks appear in a group shot in Flash-cronie garb with Ray at the center, flanked with groupies (the backing singers). The inner-gates shows Ray and the three groupies (left) and a side-to-side pic of John Dalton, Dave Davies (pinstripe suit), Mick Avory, and John Gosling.
The Kinks released “Money Talks” in April as an advance US single, backed with the Act 1 track “Here Comes Flash.” In the UK, Ray issued his demo version of “Mirror of Love” (b/w “Cricket”). In July, RCA issued the band version of “Mirror of Love” as a second US single (b/w “He’s Evil”).
Between the release of Act 2 and its corresponding tour, Starmaker aired on ITV Granada. RCA released an one of its numbers, “Holiday Romance,” as a standalone single (b/w “Shepherds of the Nation”).
In November 1974, as The Kinks promoted Act 2 with a stateside tour, RCA issued “Preservation,” a US-only non-album single (b/w “Salvation Road”) that summarizes the plot of the two albums.
The Preservation Act 2 Tour commenced on November 23 at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, NY. The Kinks played fifteen cities, including a Nov. 27–28 engagement at Manhattan’s Felt Forum and a December 8 show at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, supported by the Climax Blues Band.
The Kinks enhanced the Preservation numbers with slide projections and costumes. Ray Davies dressed as Mr. Flash while Dave, Dalton, and Avory played his respective cronies Mr. Twitch, Big Knob, and Big Ron. At the climax of each show, “Preservation” aired over loudspeakers. They wrapped the tour with a Dec. 20–22 engagement at London’s Royalty Theater.
The Kinks released two concept albums in 1975: one that corresponds to the 1974 ITV Granada drama and one that serves as a prequel to the Preservation series.
Meanwhile, Konk Records built a small roster with the folk trio Café Society and singer–songwriter Andy Desmond, a ontime member of Gothic Horizon. Dave Davies and John Gosling co-produced Desmond’s Living On a Shoestring (KONK 103), which features them on four tracks, including one (“Can’t Bear To Live Without You”) with Dave on lead guitar.
Gosling and the Davies brothers co-produced Café Society (KONK 102), which features Mick Avory as one of two drummers. The trio’s frontman, Tom Robinson, soon achieved fame as an activist rock singer. Konk also issued Abracadabra, the fourth album by Claire Hamill, who employs Café Society as backing vocalists on three tracks.
The Kinks released their fourteenth album, Soap Opera, on May 16, 1975, on RCA. Its a concept album based on Starmaker, a glitter-rock star who goes undercover as a normal man to find inspiration for his next album. He trades places with Norman, an ordinary working man. Starmaker works Norman’s 9–to–5 job and beds his wife, Andrea. As he partakes in ordinary rituals (“Have Another Drink”), he loses his creative muse and celebrity status. At the end, the narrator states that, while stardom fades, rock lives forever because there’s always a new influx of stars.
1. “Everybody’s a Star (Starmaker)” (2:57)
2. “Ordinary People” (3:49)
3. “Rush Hour Blues” (4:27)
4. “Nine to Five” (1:48)
5. “When Work Is Over” (2:06)
6. “Have Another Drink” (2:41)
1. “Underneath the Neon Sign” (3:53)
2. “Holiday Romance” (3:10)
3. “You Make It All Worthwhile” (3:49)
4. “Ducks on the Wall” (3:20)
5. “(A) Face in the Crowd” (2:17)
6. “You Can’t Stop the Music” (3:12)
The Kinks recorded Soap Opera between August and October 1974 at Konk Studios, between the release and tour behind its predecessor, Preservation Act 2. Ray Davies performs most of the Soap Opera numbers on the ITV musical drama Starmaker, which aired eight months before the album hit shelves.
Roger Beale engineered Soap Opera, which features the five-man Kinks (Ray, Dave, Dalton, Gosling, Avory) and the Preservation brass (Holmes, Brown, Beechman) with backing vocals by Pamela Travis, Sue Brown, and one Lyndsey Moore. Actress June Ritchie, who plays Andrea in Starmaker, voices her character on Soap Opera.
American artist Joe Petagno illustrated the Soap Opera gatefold, which shows an airborn light spark between a blue hand (Starmaker) and an ordinary hand (Norman). The back and inner-gates have lyrics with corresponding illustrations and dialogue and narrative text. Petagno also illustrated covers to 1974–75 albums by Baker Gurvitz Army, Clifford T. Ward, Heavy Metal Kids, Renaissance (Turn of the Cards), and Roy Harper.
“Holiday Romance” first appeared in October 1974 as a UK-only a-side, backed with the Preservation Act 2 track “Shepherds of the Nation.”
In April 1975, “Everybody’s a Star (Starmaker)” appeared as an advance US single (b/w “Ordinary People”) while “Ducks on the Wall” appeared as a second advance UK single (b/w “Rush Hour Blues”). Days after Soap Opera appeared, “You Can’t Stop the Music” became the third UK a-side (b/w “Have Another Drink”).
The Kinks presented Soap Opera with a fifteen-city US tour that started April 13 at the St. Paul Civic Center and wrapped with a May 7–9, engagement at New York’s Beacon Theatre. The UK leg covered ten cities between May 21 at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and concluded on June 14 at London’s New Victoria Theatre.
Schoolboys in Disgrace
The Kinks released their fifteenth album, Schoolboys in Disgrace, on November 17, 1975, on RCA. The plot concerns a delinquent gang of secondary schoolboys who receive harsh discipline by the headmasters. The gang leader gets caned before his classmates for a tryst with a local schoolgirl. Traumatized by the experience and dissilusioned with the system, he grows into a hardened Machiavellian character named Flash, the anti-hero of the Preservation series. Therefore, Schoolboys functions as a prequal to Act 1 and 2.
1. “Schooldays” (3:31)
2. “Jack the Idiot Dunce” (3:19)
3. “Education” (7:07)
4. “The First Time We Fall in Love” (4:01)
1. “I’m in Disgrace” (3:21)
2. “Headmaster” (4:03)
3. “The Hard Way” (2:35)
4. “The Last Assembly” (2:45)
5. “No More Looking Back” (4:27)
6. “Finale” (1:02)
Sessions took place between August 13 and October 2, 1975, at Konk Studios. The Kinks retain the saxist Alan Holmes and trombonist John Beecham of the Preservation brass but replace the trumpet with tenor saxist Nick Newell, a fellow Mike Cotton Sound alumnus.
Pamela Travis reappears as a backing vocalist along with newcomers Shirley Roden (a future Gordon Giltrap sidewoman) and Debbie Doss (one of the “oha oha” girls on the Buggles‘ “Video Killed the Radio Star”). Both women sing on the 1975 United Artists release The New Worlds Fair, the singular album by sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock and his (Hawkwind-spun) backing band Deep Fix.
Illustrator Mickey Finn (no relation to the sixties band or the T. Rex percussionist) did the Schoolboys in Disgrace cover art, which depicts young Flash at his most compromised moment. Chris Hopper took the back-cover group photo, which shows the five-man Kinks in schoolboy uniforms.
RCA lifted “I’m in Disgrace” as a US single (b/w “The Hard Way”). In the UK, “No More Looking Back” became the sole a-side, backed with “Jack the Idiot Dunce” and “The Hard Way.” Schoolboys in Disgrace reached No. 18 on the Dutch Albums chart and No. 45 on the US Billboard 200.
The Kinks presented Schoolboys with an autumn US tour supported by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. The tour covered seventeen cities between November 21 and December 18, including a two-night engagement (Dec. 4–5) at Boston’s Orpheum Theater. On the Dec. 13 show at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, the two acts were joined by Little Feat.
In 1978, Finnish rockers Kontro scored a national No. 1 with “Jerry Cotton,” a reworked version of “Jack the Idiot Dunce.”
In the winter of 1976, The Kinks embarked on a six-week US tour (Jan. 30–March 10) that included twelve dates with The Pretty Things and seven with Splinter, a folk duo signed to George Harrison’s Dark Horse label. After a late-March swing through Sweden and Germany, Ray prepared materal for a new Kinks project.
In June, RCA Victor ended its involvement with Celluloid Heroes, The Kinks’ Greatest, a twelve-track compilation of 1971–74 material. The Kinks signed to Arista and rehearsed 20–30 new songs for their upcoming album. On June 7, they played the Sunrise Festival, a day-long event at Phillipshalle in Dusseldorf with sets by Wishbone Ash, Procol Harum, War, Man, and the Alvin Lee Band.
Ray Davies aquired a 24-track recorder for Konk Studios, where sessions commenced in July 1976. As the album neared completion, John Dalton left the band. The Kinks hired bassist Andy Pyle, a recent member of Alvin Lee’s backing band with earlier multi-album stints in Blodwyn Pig and Savoy Brown.
The Kinks released their sixteenth album, Sleepwalker, on February 12, 1977, on Arista. It breaks from their string of theatrical concept albums with nine self-contained originals by Ray Davies. The songs range from tales of the concert circuit (“Life on the Road”) to ruminations on life, death, and suicide (“Life Goes On”). Dave Davies sings lead on “Sleepless Night” and harmonizes with Ray on “Juke Box Music,” an upbeat track that signalled their stateside chart comeback.
1. “Life on the Road” (5:02)
2. “Mr. Big Man” (3:49)
3. “Sleepwalker” (4:04)
4. “Brother” (5:28)
1. “Juke Box Music” (5:32)
2. “Sleepless Night” (3:18)
3. “Stormy Sky” (3:58)
4. “Full Moon” (3:52)
5. “Life Goes On” (5:03)
The Kinks recorded most of Sleepwalker between September 17 and October 2, 1976, at Konk Studios. One track (“Mr. Big Man”) dates from a mid-December session after Dalton’s departure. It replaced “In a Foreign Land,” which appeared on their next album. “Brother” comes from the earlier sessions (July 1976) that also produced two outakes: “Artificial Light” and “The Poseur.” Both appear (along with the September outtake “On the Outside”) as bonus tracks on the album’s 1994 CD reissue:
10. “Artificial Light” (3:27)
11. “Prince of the Punks” (3:18)
12. “The Poseur” (2:53)
13. “On the Outside” (5:07)
Sleepwalker sports a cover designed by veteran Elektra–Nonsuch artist Bob Heimall, who joined Arista’s art department for the 1975 release by Urszula Dudziak and did recent visuals for the Brecker Brothers, Charles Earland (Odyssey), Eleventh House (Aspects), Harvey Mason, Hermann Szobel (Szobel), Larry Young (Spaceball), Michal Urbaniak, and Tamiko Jones (Love Trip). James Wedge, an alumnus of the the Royal College of Art London, took the Sleepwalker photography, which shows a pantomime Ray with upward jazz hands (front) and half-obscured with out-held hands (back). The inner-sleeve pictures the four-piece Kinks (Gosling, Avory, the Davies) after Dalton’s departure (before Pyle’s integration).
On March 18, 1977, Arista lifted “Sleepwalker” as the first single (b/w “Full Moon”). In June, “Juke Box Music” became the second single, backed with “Sleepless Night” (UK) and “Life Goes On” (US). Sleepwalker reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200.
The Kinks promoted Sleepwalker with a five-month tour (January 28–July 3, 1977) that included multiple US dates with Cheap Trick, Elliot Murphy, Pablo Cruise, Pierce Arrow, and the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver. Select bills featured Ambrosia (2/20: Civic Auditorium, Stockton), Jean-Luc Ponty (1/31: Jorgensen Performing Arts Center, Mansfield, CT), and Ray Manzanerek’s Nite City (4/28: Cobo Arena, Detroit, with headliners Heart). The Kinks also did isolated UK–European engagements with Charlie (3/24: Rainbow, London) and Horslips (5/26: Circus Krone, Munich).
The Kinks performed “Sleepwalker” on the February 26 episode of the NBC comedy-sketch program Saturday Night Live, hosted by Steve Martin. On their other segment, they did a medley of “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” “A Well Respected Man,” and “Lola.”
On May 30, The Kinks played the Pinkpop Festival, an event at Damen Sports Park in Geleen, Netherlands, with sets by Golden Earring, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Racing Cars, and The Bothy Band. On June 19, they played a multi-bill at Anaheim Stadium with The Tubes, Nazareth, Flo & Eddie, and headliners Alice Cooper.
“Brother” appears on Arista World Pop, a Dutch label comp with cuts by the Alan Parsons Project (“Some Other Time”), Burlesque (“Acupuncture”), England (“Parafinalea”), Lou Reed (“Follow the Leader”), and the Outlaws (“Green Grass and High Tides”).
“Father Christmas” is about a group of children who gang-rob a mall Santa.
“Prince of the Punks” concerns a pop hopeful who shifts through trends in search of fame. Davies wrote the song to vent frustration over his contentious business relationship with former Konk signee Tom Robinson, who recently rose from folk obscurity with the UK Top 5 hit “2-4-6-8 Motorway.”
The Kinks recorded both songs in October 1977 at Konk Studios. “Father Christmas” became a seasonal rock staple. It appears on the 1980 Ariola Benelux comp It’s Christmas along with yuletild numbers by Greg Lake (“I Believe In Father Christmas”), Mike Oldfield (“In Dulce Jubilo”), Chorale (“Riu Riu”), and Angelo Branduardi (“Merry We Will Be”).
The Kinks promoted the single with an eleven-date US tour (Nov. 2–Dec. 11) that included one date with Network, five with Hall & Oates, and six with Artful Dodger, including a Nov. 28, show at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens with a third act, Eric Carmen. On December 23–24, The Kinks held a Christmas party with Splinter at London’s Rainbow.
In January 1978, LA rockers Van Halen released a cover of “You Really Got Me” as their debut single (b/w “Atomic Punk”). It reached No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 12 on the Australian Kent Music Report. Soul-rock singer Robert Palmer renders “You Really Got Me” as a Meters-style funk song on his 1978 fourth solo album Double Fun. English trio The Jam, who spearheaded a late-seventies mod revival, cover “David Watts” on their 1978 third album All Mod Cons, which reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart.
As sessions wrapped on their new album, John Gosling and Andy Pyle left The Kinks, who went on tour with two new members: ex-Pretty Things keyboardist Gordon Edwards and former Argent bassist Jim Rodford, a onetime member of the Mike Cotton Sound.
The Kinks released their seventeenth album, Misfits, on May 19, 1978, on Arista. The songs explore topics like idiosyncrasy (“Misfits”) and racial disparities (“Black Messiah”). “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” imagines a scenario where the group disbands and the emotional impact this has on a lifelong Kinks fan. Ray Davies wrote the song amid inner-conflicts that almost ended the band. Dave Davies wrote “Trust Your Heart” as a statement of renewed faith.
1. “Misfits” (4:41)
2. “Hay Fever” (3:32)
3. “Live Life” (3:49)
4. “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” (4:58)
5. “In a Foreign Land” (3:03)
1. “Permanent Waves” (3:47)
2. “Black Messiah” (4:08)
3. “Out of the Wardrobe” (3:35)
4. “Trust Your Heart” (4:11)
5. “Get Up” (3:22)
The Kinks recorded Misfits during off-road intervals between July 1977 and January 1978 at Konk Studios. Ray Davies splits piano and synthesizer tasks with John Gosling, who left The Kinks (with Andy Pyle) as the album neared completion. “In a Foreign Land” is a 1976 recording with John Dalton, originally slated for Sleepwaker.
Bassist Ron Lawrence (ex-Gothic Horizon) and drummer Nick Trevisik play on “Live Life,” “Rock and Roll Fantasy,” and “Get Up.” Kiwi Zaine Griff and Dave’s friend Clem Cattini overdub bass and drums, respectively. Davies summoned Trevisik to deputize Mick Avory, who almost left the band. American soundman Steve Waldman engineered Misfits in sequence with albums by Melissa Manchester and the Radio Stars.
James Wedge took the Misfits cover photos, which show funhouse mirror distortions of Ray (front) and Dave (back). Wedge did subsequent visuals for The Police (Reggatta de Blanc) and Fischer-Z (Word Salad).
The Kinks lifted “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” as a single, backed with “Artificial Light” (UK), “Live Life” (US), and “Get Up” (Canada). It reached No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Live Life”became the second a-side, backed with “In a Foreign Land” (UK) and “Black Messiah” (US). In the UK, they lifted “Black Messiah” as a third single (b/w “Misfits”).
The Kinks plugged Misfits on a US with openers Charlie (then plugging their third album, Lines). The tour hit nineteen cities between May 25 and June 25, including two dates in Oregon (Portland and Medford) and a June 12 show at Milwaukee’s Uihlein Hall, where actor Leonard Nimoy introduced the show.
On July 16, The Kinks played Seattle Memorial Stadium with Randy Hansen and headliners The Beach Boys. They played twelve additional summer shows, including six with Blondie and three with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. On August 8, they played the Civic Center in Springfield, Mass., supported by The Cars.
In mid-August, The Kinks played Jazz-Bilzen ’78, a four-day event with sets by James Brown, John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, Partner, Philip Catherine, Sweet d’Buster, Gruppo Sportivo, Lou Reed, The Jam, and The Boomtown Rats. The Kinks played Day 3 (Saturday the 12) with Blondie, Japan, Lindisfarne,Little Bob Story, and the Tyla Gang. In October, The Kinks played seventeen Continental shows with the Scottish trio Cafe Jacques.
Kinks covers proliferated in 1979 across the rock spectrum. In January, British–American new wavers The Pretenders issued “Stop Your Sobbing” as their debut a-side.
Australian shock-rockers Jimmy & the Boys! use “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” as the title track to their debut album, released Down Under on Avenue Records.
Japanese new wavers Sheena & The Rokkets grace their debut album with “You Really Got Me,” a song given the electro-pop treatment on 1979–80 releases by the Silicone Teens (Music for Parties) and Dalek I (Compass Kum’pas).
American hard-rockers Hounds cover “Who’ll Be the Next In Line” on their 1979 second album Puttin’ On The Dog, which also features covers of mid-sixties songs by The Rolling Stones (“Under My Thumb”) and Manfred Mann (“Do Wah Diddy Diddy”). Canadian rockers Trooper cover “All Day and All of the Night” on the MCA Records relase Flying Colors, their fifth album.
English pop-rockers The Records cover “See My Friends” on the 1979 Virgin Records release Shades in Bed, their debut album. The Romantics cover “She’s Got Everything” on their self-titled debut album, recorded in 1979 and released the first week of 1980 on Neperor.
The Raincoats, an all-female avant-garde post-punk band, add further gender confusion to “Lola” on their self-titled debut album on Rough Trade.
On January 26, 1979, The Kinks released “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman,” a comedic disco song backed with “Low Budget,” a blues-rock number — both tasters from their album in-progress. They promoted the single with a fifteen-city UK tour (Jan. 18–Feb. 3) followed by an eighteen-date US tour with TKO (Feb. 16–March 11).
The Kinks released their eighteenth album, Low Budget, on July 10, 1979, on Arista. The songs tackle topics like the 1979 energy crisis (“A Gallon of Gas”) and Carter-era malaise (“Catch Me Now I’m Falling”) with musical forays into punk (“Attitude,” “Pressure”) and disco (“Moving Pictures,” “Superman”). This is their first of seven studio albums with bassist Jim Rodford.
1. “Attitude” (3:47)
2. “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” (5:58)
3. “Pressure” (2:27)
4. “National Health” (4:02)
5. “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” (3:36)
1. “Low Budget” (3:50)
2. “In a Space” (3:44)
3. “Little Bit of Emotion” (4:51)
4. “A Gallon of Gas” (3:48)
5. “Misery” (2:57)
6. “Moving Pictures” (3:47)
Initial sessions took place in January 1979 at Konk Studios, where The Kinks cut “Low Budget” and “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman.” Ray Davies then settled in New York City, where the band recorded the remaining tracks that spring at the Power Station and Blue Rock studios. Gordon Edwards plays piano on “Low Budget.” Ray, who fired Edwards early in the sessions, plays the remaining keyboard parts. Schoolboys saxophonist Nick Newall is the only musical guest.
The engineer on Low Budget, Jon Rollo, also worked on 1979 albums by Annette Peacock, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, Streetband (with Paul Young), and ex-Moon singer Noel McCalla. His earlier credits include albums by Asgærd, Batti Mamzelle, Kestrel, and Ultrafunk.
The Kinks lifted “A Gallon of Gas” as the second US single, followed in September by “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” (both backed with “Low Budget”). In the UK, Arista lifted “Moving Pictures” (b/w “In a Space”) and “Pressure” (b/w “National Health”).
Low Budget reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200. The Kinks promoted the album with a summer-long US tour (July 11–September 23) that included six dates with John Cougar, ten dates with the Hunter Ross Band, and eighteen dates with Dutch rockers Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. On October 20, The Kinks launched a 24-date Continental tour that wrapped on November 19 at the Paris Pavilion with French new wavers Edith Nylon.
The Kinks launched a winter 1980 US tour (Feb. 21–March 9) that covered thirteen-cities, including one date with Steve Forbert and ten with The Brains.
Dave Davies, buoyed by The Kinks popular resurgence, resumed his solo aspirations with AFL1-3603, a collection of ten self-produced and largely self-performed originals, including “See the Beast,” “Where Do You Come From,” and “Imaginations Real.” This was his first of two back-to-back albums on RCA Victor, which titled the UK, Japanese, and North American pressings after the catalog number: a detail emphasized by the bar-code representation of Davies’ head on the cover. In Europe and Oceania, the album appeared as Dave Davies with a monochrome rock-pose cover. He plays keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums on AFL1-3603, assisted on four tracks by Misfits bassist Ron Lawrence and drummer Nick Trevisick.
One for the Road
The Kinks released their second live album, the two-record One for the Road, in June 1980 on Arista. It contains nineteen numbers from five different concerts between September 23, 1979 (Providence Civic Center) and March 6, 1980 (Lowell Memorial Auditorium). This was their first tour with keyboardist Ian Gibbons, a onetime member of hard-rockers Life who remained a Kink for most of their duration.
One for the Road features six songs from their most recent album (“Catch Me Now I’m Falling,” “Pressure,” “Low Budget,” “Attitude,” “Superman,” “National Health”); five songs from the 1964–65 period (“You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” “Stop Your Sobbing,” “‘Till The End of the Day,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone”); four from the 1970–75 era (“Lola,” “20th Century Man,” “Celluloid Heroes,” “The Hard Way”), and two songs each from the timeframes of 1967–69 (“David Watts,” “Victoria”) and 1977–78 (“Prince of the Punks,” “Misfits”).
One for the Road reached No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and went Gold (500,000 units sold).
One for the Road had one of the first corresponding home-video releases: a twelve-song concert film released on VHS and Betamax. Arista art director Howard Fritzson designed the geometric hot pink visuals.
On July 5 and 6, The Kinks appeared in Belgium Rock Torhout and Werchter, both with Fischer-Z, Joe Lemaire+Flouze, Kevin Ayers, Mink DeVille, Steel Pulse, and The Specials. In early August, The Kinks played to UK shows with soul-mods The Step. They launched a two-month US tour (Aug. 22–Oct. 27) that included multple stops with Le Roux and Angel City and select dates with Robert Palmer, The A’s, and Robin Lane & The Chartbusters. On November 18, they launched a thirteen-date European tour with Nine Below Zero.
Dave Davies continued his solo career with Glamour, a collection of nine self-produced originals, including “Body,” “7th Channel,” “Telepathy,” and the epics “Eastern Eyes” and “World of Our Own.” Sessions took place at Konk Studios, where Dave played guitar, keyboards, and percussion on each track, assisted only by drummer Bob Henrit, Jim Rodford’s onetime bandmate in Argent and (more recently) Phoenix. On the Glamour cover, Dave sports slicked-back hair and a pinstripe suit in emulation of his uncle, Frank Willmore, a fifties-era cockney spiv.
Ray Davies served as an associate on the 1981 Chrysalis release Wolf, the third solo album by South African expat rocker Trevor Rabin, who arranged and largely self-performed the music. Soundman Ben Fenner engineered Glamour and Wolf in succession with titles by the Michael Schenker Group and Jack Bruce & Robin Trower.
The Kinks embarked on a twelve-date spring 1981 UK tour (April 29–May 15) with Kenilworth new wavers The AK Band.
Give the People What They Want
The Kinks released their nineteenth album, Give the People What They Want, on August 15, 1981, on Arista. It contains eleven Ray Davies originals with an emphasis on hard-rock (“Add It Up,” the title track) and slice-of-life vignettes like “Art Lover” (about a first-time father–daughter encounter) and “Yo-Yo” (about volatile domestic situations).
They toy with post-punk on the martialized “Back to Front” and retro R&B on “Predictable,” which brought them into the video age. The optimistic “Better Things,” with its chop-sticks piano intro, signaled a UK chart comeback. The self-referential “Destroyer” functions as a “Lola” sequal with a Cold War twist; cloaked in the riff of “All Day and All of the Night.”
1. “Around the Dial” (4:45)
2. “Give the People What They Want” (3:45)
3. “Killers Eyes” (4:40)
4. “Predictable” (3:31)
5. “Add It Up” (3:14)
1. “Destroyer” (3:47)
2. “Yo-Yo” (4:10)
3. “Back to Front” (3:15)
4. “Art Lover” (3:22)
5. “A Little Bit of Abuse” (3:45)
6. “Better Things” (2:59)
The Kinks recorded “Destroyer” in May 1979 at New York’s Power Station. They recorded the title track in the summer of 1980 at Konk Studios, where cut the remaining tracks between April and June 1981. This was their first of six studio albums with keyboardist Ian Gibbons, who joins bassist Jim Rodford and founders Mick Avory and the Davies brothers, the lineup that held for nearly three albums.
Ray’s recent personal partner, Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, sings uncredited backing vocals on “Predictable,” “Art Lover,” “A Little Bit of Abuse,” and the “Gucci, Gucci” syllables on “Add It Up.” Ben Fenner engineered Give the People ahead of titles by Righeira and ex-Silver Convention singer Rhonda Heath.
Give the People features photography by Robert Ellis, who captures Ray running from a title-graffitied wall (front) and a spray-painted shed side (back). The inner-sleeve has film strips of each Kink posing frame-by-frame. Ellis also has visual credits on 1980–81 metal albums by AC/DC, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, and Scorpions.
The Kinks released “Better Things” in June 1981 as an advance single in the UK, backed with the non-album “Massive Reductions.” In the US, “Destroyer” became the first single (b/w “Back to Front”), followed by “Better Things” (b/w “Yo-yo”).
The Kinks promoted the album’s US release with an eleven-city US tour supported by Texan roots rocker Joe Ely.
On August 30, The Kinks played the 1981 Reading Rock Festival, a three-day event at Little John’s Farm with sets by the Alex Harvey Band, Atomic Rooster, Billy Squier, Budgie, Gillan, Girlschool, Lionheart, Nightwing, Rose Tattoo, Saga, Samson, Steve Hackett, Trust, Twelfth Night, Telephone, and Vardis. The Kinks headlined Day 3 (Sunday), which also featured .38 Special, Afraid of Mice, The Enid, Greg Lake, Nine Below Zero, Reluctant Stereotypes, Thompson Twins, and Wishbone Ash.
Ray planned to make corresponding videos to each song on Give the People, hence the album’s delayed release in the UK, where it appeared in January 1982. Arista’s budget allowed only one video, “Predictable,” in which Ray stars as a nested bachelor through four distinct periods: the Teddy Boy era (when he had a wife), the Swinging London era (silk pants, paisley), the hippie era (long hair, mustache), and the current new wave era (striped shirt, wraparound glasses). Filmmaker Julian Temple (The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle) directed this and subsequent Kinks videos.
Arista lifted “Predictable” as a single in the UK (b/w “Back to Front”) and the Netherlands (b/w “Art Lover”) but not in the US, where the video appeared instead on the fledgling cable music channel MTV, which put the clip in high rotation during the channel’s first year of broadcast.
On November 19, 1982, The Kinks released “Come Dancing,” a nostalgic celebritary number backed with the irate rocker “Noise.” The single first appeared in the UK only because Arista execs feared that its contents were too “English” for other markets.
Ray Davies wrote “Come Dancing” on a Casio keyboard in March 1982 while enroute from Tokyo to London. The lyrics recall his memories of Rene, the Davies’ eldest sister (b. 1926) who died at age 31 on Ray’s 13th birthday (June 21, 1957), just hours after gifting him a Spanish guitar. An avid dancer, she died that night at the Lyceum ballroom of a heart attack caused by weaknesses sustained from childhood rheumatic fever.
In the song, Ray sings as his 13-year-old self, who watches his grown sister go on dancing dates. In the video, Ray portrays her suitor, a spiv character modelled (like Dave’s Glamour cover) after Frank Willmore. The young Ray observes how the pencil-mustached spiv would “end up blowing all his wages for the week, all for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek.” In the third verse, Ray is now “grown up and playing in a band.” He plays himself in the concert-hall scene (backed by The Kinks) as the now-older spiv (also Ray) watched solemnly from the balcony.
The Kinks recorded “Come Dancing” in October 1982 at Konk, where Ray summoned a four-piece horn section composed of tombonist John Beecham, trumpeter Noel Morris, and saxophonists Andy Hamilton (tenor) and Alan Holmes (baritone).
Julian Temple directed the video in November 1982 at Ilford Palais in Essex (demolished 2008). The video first aired in December on The Tube, a Channel 4 music program hosted by erstwhile Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland and Bob Geldof‘s then-wife Paula Yates. On March 25, 1983, MTV premiered the video to US viewers.
“Come Dancing” went into high rotation on MTV. This prompted Arista to issue the song on April 21, 1983, in the US, where it reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 — The Kinks’ highest US Kinks chart placement since their 1965 hit “Tired of Waiting for You.” Its US popularity spread to other countries, where “Come Dancing” reached No. 6 in Canada, No. 4 in Ireland, and No. 12 in the UK.
In early 1983, as The Kinks prepared their next album, Dave Davies recorded his third solo album, Chosen People, a collection of thirteen hi-tech, socially charged originals, including “Charity,” “Mean Disposition,” “Cold Winter,” “Matter of Decision,” and “Freedom Lies.” Dave plays guitar and keyboards on the self-produced album, backed by Rober Henrit, ontime IF bassist Dave Wintour (recently of Russ Ballard‘s Barnet Dogs) and former Hudson–Ford keyboardist Chris Parren (recently of Midnight Flyer). Chosen People appeared in August 1983 on Warner Bros.
The Kinks did a 38-date North American spring tour (April 8–June 11) that included nine dates with Scandal, seven with Canadian rockers Sheriff, and select dates with INXS, Kix, The Red Rockers, and Robert Ellis Orall. On April 23, The Kinks played the Seattle Center Coliseum, supported by The Original Kingsmen.
State of Confusion
The Kinks released their twentieth album, State of Confusion, on June 10, 1983, on Arista. It features “Come Dancing” and a mix of socially-charged hard-rock (“Young Conservatives,” the title track) and airy ballads (“Property,” “Don’t Forget to Dance”) with forays into jangly folk rock (“Heart of Gold”) and sci-fi epicism (“Clichés of the World (B Movie)”). The original LP has ten tracks but the cassette contains two additional numbers: “Noise” and “Long Distance.”
The Kinks’ second wave of popularity peaked on State of Confusion, which generated three radio hits and MTV videos.
1. “State of Confusion” (3:41)
2. “Definite Maybe” (4:27)
3. “Labour of Love” (3:54)
4. “Come Dancing” (3:54)
5. “Property” (4:19)
6. “Noise” (4:38)
1. “Don’t Forget to Dance” (4:34)
2. “Young Conservatives” (3:58)
3. “Heart of Gold” (4:02)
4. “Clichés of the World (B Movie)” (4:51)
5. “Bernadette” (3:41)
6. “Long Distance” (5:23)
Sessions commenced in September 1982 at Grand Slam Studios in East Orange, New Jersey, where The Kinks recorded “Don’t Forget to Dance.” In October, they cut “Come Dancing” at Konk Studios, the site of the winter 1983 sessions that produced the remaining tracks apart from “Bernadette,” an outtake from the Give the People sessions.
Ray Davies playes synthesizer and piano in addition to rhythm guitar on State of Confusion. Dave, then devoted to Chosen People, contributes no songs to SoC but sings lead on “Bernadette.” Low Budget soundman John Rollo engineered State of Confusion in sequence with Hard, the fourth and (for the meantime) final album by Gang of Four.
Howard Fritzson, who designed the One for the Road cover, provides similar modernist visuals on State of Confusion, which presents the name and title with mismatched bold letters against a cut-up yellow–purple–teal scheme. Photographer Robert Ellis continues the Give the People theme with another scene of fleeing members (this time the whole band) at a scene of graffiti vandalism. On the monochrome inner-sleeve, Ray heads the others at a chalkboard in a call-and-response that entwines the first two songs: “STATE OF CONFUSION” (scrawled across the board), “Definite” (Mick’s thought bubble), “Maybe” (Dave’s thought bubble), “No Decision” (Ian and Jim in unison).
State of Confusion hit shelves as “Come Dancing” reached its transatlantic chart peaks. In August, The Kinks lifted “Don’t Forget to Dance” as the album’s second single (b/w “Bernadette”). The video to “Don’t Forget to Dance” picks up where its predecessor left off. Ray fronts a show band (The Kinks) at Ilford Palais, where the spiv (also Ray) courts the song’s lonely female subject. As he spins her around on the floor, she goes into a Cinderella daydream where the real Ray (in a Zorro mask) courts her at a costume party. She lifts his mask, then snaps from the dream and flees in a bout of fear. The spiv pursues her unsuccessfully as she boards a tube and drifts into another dream with the masked Ray.
In December, “State of Confusion” became the third single (b/w “Labour of Love”). The video intermixes sound-stage band scenes with clips of Ray struggling with assorted products and appliances (shaving cream tubes, razors, sound-system knobs, juice cartons, toasters, computers). During the line “standing on an island in the middle of the road,” he struggles to cross the street to the concert venue. Once there, he dons his pink stage suit and carries on jinx-free.
On December 28, The Kinks played the Springfield Civic Center in Massachusetts with rising star Cyndi Lauper. Both acts rounded out 1983 with a three-nighter (Dec. 29–31) at New York’s Roseland Ballroom.
In January 1984, The Kinks launched a 20th Anniversary US tour, supported by The Romantics. In late March, they launched a ten-date UK tour with openers The Truth. It wrapped on April 9 at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester, where Mick Avory played his final show with the band.
Word of Mouth
The Kinks released their twenty-first album, Word of Mouth, on November 19, 1984, on Arista. It opens with “Do It Again,” an angular rocker that became their final Billboard hit. Dave Davies contributes two songs: the hard-hitting “Guilty” and the ballad “Living on a Thin Line,” an oft-used song in TV dramas. The 1981 b-side “Massive Reductions” reappears here with a hi-tech arrangement.
Word of Mouth is the final Kinks album with founding member Mick Avory, who drums on only three songs: “Missing Persons,” “Sold Me Out,” and “Going Solo.”
1. “Do It Again” (4:14)
2. “Word of Mouth” (3:51)
3. “Good Day” (4:35)
4. “Living on a Thin Line” (4:16)
5. “Sold Me Out” (3:44)
1. “Massive Reductions” (3:15)
2. “Guilty” Dave Davies (4:12)
3. “Too Hot” (4:08)
4. “Missing Persons” (2:53)
5. “Summer’s Gone” (3:52)
6. “Going Solo” (3:58)
Sessions first took place in June–July 1983 at Konk Studios, where The Kinks recorded their final three songs with Mick Avory. As tensions rose between him and Dave Davies, Ray — in an effort to keep them out of the same room — used a drum machine on “Good Day,” recorded in June 1984 along with “Too Hot.” The remaining sessions took place in August–September with Bob Henrit.
Word of Mouth sports a modernist collage of lips, squiggles, and Ben-Day dots illustrated by one Renate Sturmer. The designer, Maude Gilman, also did visuals on eighties sleeves by Angela Bofill and A Flock of Seagulls.
The Kinks released “Good Day” in August 1984 as an advance UK single (b/w “Too Hot”). In December, “Do It Again” became the first US single (b/w “Guilty”). “Do It Again” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks.
In the “Do It Again” video, Ray plays a one-man-band who cavorts with Mick Avory (a smoking tramp) in the London Underground, where Ray plays to commuters. When a blackout occurs, the spiv (also Ray) appears and plays an ukelele to stranded passengers. Sensing competiton, Ray boards a different tube, now with only his Dobro resonator. The train morphes into a carnival ride that lets him off by the riverside, where he encounters a drumming jester (also Ray) with a pantomime band (other Kinks). He checks out the bumper cars and funhouse mirror, then concludes with a target game at a counter called Muswell Hill.
The Kinks plugged Word of Mouth with an eighteen-date autumn 1984 tour (Nov. 27–Dec. 21) supported by former Styx frontman Tommy Shaw. In March 1985, “Summer’s Gone” became the album’s second US single (b/w “Going Solo”).
The Kinks released their twenty-second album, Think Visual, on November 17, 1986, on MCA. It contains nine Ray Davies originals, including “Working at the Factory,” “Repetition,” “Natural Gift,” and “The Video Shop,” one track that relays the album’s initial concept, in which the spive character (from the earlier videos) finds himself overwhelmed in a video shop. Dave Davies contributes two songs: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Cities” and “When You Were a Child,” a hi-tech number.
- Kinks (1964)
- Kinda Kinks (1965)
- The Kink Kontroversy (1965)
- Face to Face (1966)
- Something Else by The Kinks (1967)
- The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
- Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969)
- Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970)
- Percy (soundtrack) (1971)
- Muswell Hillbillies (1971)
- Everybody’s in Show-Biz (studio & live) (1972)
- Preservation Act 1 (1973)
- Preservation Act 2 (1974)
- Soap Opera (1975)
- Schoolboys in Disgrace (1975)
- Sleepwalker (1977)
- Misfits (1978)
- Low Budget (1979)
- Give the People What They Want (1981)
- State of Confusion (1983)
- Word of Mouth (1984)
- Think Visual (1986)
- UK Jive (1989)
- Phobia (1993)
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