Monday, August 06, 2007

Have a Cuppa Tea

So a certain blogger, well respected in these parts, has confessed to not really knowing who the Kinks were. Which seems as good an excuse as any to broaden the subject matter of this blog.

The Kinks are the most under-rated band of the 60s. You just have to listen to the debut Kinks to get some idea how far from the norm You Really Got Me was - against some more 'conventional' Ray Davies-penned songs and a couple of Chuck Berry covers, its originality - and Dave Davies' awesome guitar solo - shine like nothing else on the album, and is often credited with creating the guitar driven sound of more recent heavy metal/rock music.

The Kinks are, however, best known for Ray Davies' brilliant lyrics on 60s hits like Sunny Afternoon and Waterloo Sunset. Every home should have at least those two songs somewhere.

The Kinks first came to my notice via The Stranglers' version of All Day and All of the Night, and The Jam's cover of David Watts - both of which sound perfectly at home alongside those bands own compositions. Since then I have been building up a collection of the band's back catalogue, over the last 15 years or so, and although much of the 60s and 70s albums have been released on CD, quite a lot of gaps remain.
My nomination for their best album would come from just after their 60s heyday, when Ray was starting to play with ideas like rock opera and 'concept' albums. The Village Green Preservation Society, with its quintessentially English themes, has long been my favourite, although Muswell Hillbillies is running a close second, largely due to Have a Cuppa Tea, which should be an anthem for English people everywhere.

I also recommend Other People's Lives, the debut solo album by Ray Davies, which does sound a bit Kinksy, but you'd expect that, and probably be a bit disappointed if it didn't. Davies does take the opportunity to swear a bit, and inject a little more humour into some tracks (Stand Up Comic is particularly funny, imho). It does sound a bit wierd to hear the quintessentially English RD singing about Thanksgiving Day (thrown in as a bonus track) though.