The Kinks were an English rock band that was active for three decades between the early 1960s and early 1990s. Formed in 1963 Muswell Hill, north London, the band were a cornerstone of the 1964 British Invasion with the chordal-powered twin hits “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.”
Advancing swiftly to folksier fair, The Kinks emerged as one of the first thinking-person’s rock bands thanks to the melodic well and astute wit of penman Ray Davies. During the late 1960s, The Kinks raised the bar on album-oriented artistry with the conceptual works The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968) and Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969).
For the first half of the 1970s, The Kinks toured behind a string of music hall-inspired rock operas. Signing to Arista later in the decade, the band enjoyed a stateside surge that culminated in a 1981–83 silver peak; bested by the MTV/radio hit “Come Dancing” and the album State of Confusion.
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. 1944) and featuring his younger brother Dave Davies (b. 1947) and bassist Pete Quaife (1943–2010). 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 Victorian 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-Stones Charlie Watts) and the Hamilton King Band (with future Camel keyboardist Pete 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. The Ravens were one of the first UK acts to link with newly arrived American record producer Shel Talmy, who secured them a deal with Pye in early 1964. At this point, the band wore matching red hunting jackets. In reference to their odd (“kinky”) attire and in an effort to seem vaguely risqué, the band changed their name to The Kinks.
The Kinks released their fourth proper studio album, Face to Face, in October 1966. The album features seven songs per side, including “Rainy Day In June,” “Holiday In Waikiki,” “Session Man,” “Rosy Won’t You Please Come Home,” and the sitar-laden “Fancy.” It’s their first album comprised solely of originals. All the numbers are credited to Ray Davies, though Dave later claimed to have written the opening track, “Party Line.” The album spawned two singles: the chipper “Dandy” and the wry “Sunny Afternoon.” The latter features one of their most noted non-album b-sides, the defiant “I’m Not Like Everybody Else.”
Guests on the album include Nicky Hopkins (harmonium on “Sunny Afternoon”) and future-Kinks bassist John Dalton, who deputizes the role on “Little Miss Queen of Darkness.” Ray’s wife Rasa sings backup on “Sunny Afternoon,” “Session Man,” and “Rainy Day in June.”
On November 24, 1971, The Kinks released Muswell Hillbillies, their tenth studio album and first for RCA. It features 12 Ray originals, including “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues,” “Have a Cuppa Tea,” “Holloway Jail,” and the live staple “Alcohol.” Most of the songs are in the 2–4-minute range except the two bookending tracks: “20th Century Man” (5:53) and the title-track (4:58). The former was issued as a single, backed with “Skin and Bone.”
More than any other album in their catalog, Muswell Hillbillies draws on Ray’s affection for old-time musical styles (trad, bluegrass, music hall, Dixieland). The title references their original stomping ground, Muswell Hill. The brass on these tracks was played by the Mike Cotton Sound, lead by trumpeter Cotton and featuring trombonist/tuba player John Beecham (Satisfaction) and saxophonist Alan Holmes, who would play on the next two Kinks albums. (An earlier MCS member, Jim Rodford, would later join The Kinks). The album was recorded during the prior three months at Morgan; produced by Ray and engineered by Bobak.
- 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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