Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kinky Boot Beasts





video


Honestly, I can't say enough about the Kinks. They're my second favorite band, eclipsing both the Rolling Stones and the Who in my personal pantheon of British greats. Ray Davies pure English sensibilities, his poetry, and his unique social perspective are what elevate them to these realms--qualities evident from the start of their recording career, but more prominent in this legendary string of albums: Face to Face, Something Else by the Kinks, The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (my personal favorite), Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire, and Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround. Seek these out immediately if you haven't experienced them yet!

The Kinks began life when sixteen year-old Ray Davies and his thirteen year-old brother Dave began playing gigs around their Muswell Hill neighborhood as The Kelly Brothers. As Ray was discovering American blues at art college and playing rhythm guitar and harmonica for the Dave Hunt Band, the younger Davies brother met up with bassist Pete Quaife, forming the Ravens. Eventually Ray joined his brother in the group, as well as pre-Rolling Stones reject Mick Avory on drums. Once signed to Pye records, a name change was in order. Several stories concerning the origin of the monkier circulate; here's Ray's version of events:
"We were sitting in a pub getting a bit drunk one day, feeling disillusioned because we hadn't had much work. This guy came up to us and said we were crazy and ought to be called 'The Kinks.' "

Ray never liked the name but soon noticed it had it's advantages:

"Somebody rang us up one night wanting us to open a show with five other acts. We wanted something short so that it could be as big as possible on the marquee. Kinks was good, as it was only five letters...Maybe it was an unfortunate name but good in a way because it's something that people don't really want."

So the scandalous name took hold, and an equally raw proto-punk Kinks "sound" took shape with their first two hits, "You Really Got Me" (showcased here) and "All Day and All of the Night" (whose anarchic solos were not, I repeat NOT, played by session man and future Zeppelin Jimmy Page).

Sadly, the Kinks role in the British Invasion diminished after their first US tour because they didn't show up for one date and were subsequently banned from returning to the states by the American Federation of Musicians. By the late-Seventies, however, the group were firmly established within the ranks of Stadium Bands and roundly acknowledged as fathers of both the heavy metal and punk genres, strangely enough.

Rumors of a retrospective box set and band reunion have yet to reach fruition. Regardless, the mantra of Kinks Konverts everywhere remains: God Save the Kinks!

(The first scan is of an Italian Pye LP; the second is of a UK EP.)

Reference: The Kinks Kronikles by John Mendelssohn

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