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** You Really Got Me - The Kinks **
I love many of the old sixties bands. Many of them wipe the floor with what the plastic, corporate 'we advertise anything, pop stars of today. My record collection is forever being updated with music from the 40s to the 70s. Not that I don't have a big love of new music. I do. I just find that to get good modern music and artists you have to dig beneath all the media pushed darlings and find the independents.
It wasn't always like that. Once long ago the mainstream was filled with class acts. This brings me to the latest addition to my music collection. You Really Got Me - The best of the Kinks. I bought it on Amazon for just under £4.
You Really Got Me is not really a definative best of because there is much more great music from Ray Davies and his band from the later years that doesn't show up here. But You Really Got Me is a good introduction to The Kinks early career in the 60's.
My favourite tracks include You Really Got Me with it's super powerchord riff throughout and stunning guitar solo by Ray Davies's brother. The solo was often claimed to be by Jimmy Page later of Led Zep, but it really was by Daviesis brother who is a great player in his own right.
Waterloo Sunset a song dedicated to that area of London. A brilliantly written song with some novel musical twists and a very catch guitar run. Ray shows off his songwriting skills brilliantly in this song and though many would try to emulate his eccentric Britishness style - like Blur for instance - Ray Davies still owns this style of writting and is it's king.
Lola. Daring at the time to do a song about a tranmsvestite. A very humourous song. In other songs Ray would sometimes stray to far into the amusing and the music would lose quality and serious impact. But with Lola he got the balance almost perfect.
Sunny Afternoon. Ray and the band's gripe about the taxman. Of course the Beatles got there first with their song Taxman - and this is the Kinks only problem. They came at a time when there were so many talented people about that sometimes they get lost in the crowd. The Kinks never could touch bands like The Beatles, but as runners up and pretenders to the throne they did a first class job and should never be neglected or forgotten. Sunny afternoon is such a tuneful clever little song. Again Ray takes the listener to the edge of the ridiculous but then catches his balance right on the end of the cliff. So we get a great great great song!
There are many other good tracks on the album too. Just not as good as my favourites above. There are one or two songs I don't like -where Ray's song writing skills do fall over that metaphorical cliff into the ridiculous. Like Dedicated Follower Of Fashion for example. But by and large this is a super album.
** My verdict **
If you don't know The Kinks you should. If you don't know where to start You Really Got Me -Best of The Kinks is a fine starting place. Great music for when you get sick of hearing Lady Ga Ga on your radio and you want real music instead that wasn't made on a laptop, with all the soul of a piece of cheese.
The Kinks, considered in the United States to be one of the foremost bands of the "British Invasion" era, are often strangely neglected in their homeland. Musicians themselves queue up to cite them as influences on their own work: Blur, for example, who in the heyday of Britpop were sometimes seen as the Rolling Stones to Oasis's Beatles but whose output often displays more similarities to that of the Kinks.
This CD, which for the sake of brevity and sanity (if perhaps not levity) I shall refer to simply as "The Best Of", is a superb introduction to the band. Really, go and buy it immediately; it's that good. You can read the rest of this review later. Okay, back now? Right, let's get on. Despite running for just under an hour, the disc packs in no fewer than 20 tracks, with all but one clocking in at under four minutes and more than half lasting for under three. This is real old-fashioned "three-minute song" stuff, and absolutely none the worse for that.
You shouldn't expect to find much in the way of the Kinks' later or more esoteric output here. The whimsy of The Village Green Preservation Society and the (it has to be said, generally deserved) obscurity of UK Jive are much less in evidence on this collection. Instead, this is a mostly straightforward romp through the glory days of the band's first decade, with little in the way of gimmicks or oddities. Those are easily enough available elsewhere in the Kinks' very substantial back catalogue, so there's no real need to fret about their absence here.
The album opens with You Really Got Me, the power-chord-driven 1964 stomper that, while not quite "the first heavy metal song" as some try to claim, certainly had a considerable influence on the development of hard rock. The famous guitar solo (played by Dave Davies, not - despite persistent rumours - by a young Jimmy Page) is actually not particularly startling, though it's very effective. This song is followed by All Day And All Of The Night, which is very similar to the opener in its general feel, and at this point newcomers may fear that the rest of the record is going to be all too predictable.
Thankfully, no such thing occurs. Track three, Tired Of Waiting For You, is a much more reflective number, with the weary, shrugging delivery of the lyrics "It's your life, and you can do what you want" mirroring perfectly the song's title. From here on in we take in a wide variety of themes and musical styles: the flower-power psychedelia of See My Friends and - in a more humorous mode - Dedicated Follower Of Fashion; the music hall influence of Sunny Afternoon (whose lyrics it is interesting to compare with the Beatles' contemporary Taxman); and the pure silliness of Apeman.
Picking highlights from an album such as this is hard, for almost all the songs are at least very good, and perhaps half are bona fide classics. Waterloo Sunset is an obvious choice, and one Kinks song that surely *everybody* knows: never has London's evening rush hour been captured more evocatively. Days, though, has a good claim to be my favourite of all Kinks songs: now that memories of its use in a Yellow Pages advert have faded, the beautiful, bittersweet nature of the song can be appreciated for the masterpiece that it truly is.
In another style entirely is Dead End Street, whose hard-hitting lyrics on the squalor and unhappiness hidden away in England's back streets ("people are dying on Dead End Street"), together with an at-the-time highly controversial video featuring the band acting as undertakers, give the a bleak, harsh impression at odds with its relentlessly foot-tapping beat. Finally, Autumn Almanac is almost criminally neglected: its oh-so-English lyrics ("tea and toasted, buttered current buns") and the pastoral nature of the song foreshadows the later "Village Green" era of the Kinks' output.
There is just the occasional slip-up from the band. Everybody's Gonna Be Happy may be the most forgettable song on this album: it doesn't repay multiple listenings, and in all honesty barely repays the first one. Wonderboy is just irritating, no matter that a certain John Lennon was said to have loved it, while You Do Something To Me is one of the few times when the Kinks sound like Generic Sixties Band (TM). Conversely, the most disappointing omission from this CD is the unsettling and enigmatic Death Of A Clown; yes, it was initially released under Dave Davies' name alone, but it has long been considered part of the Kinks' oeuvre.
Despite those small complaints, The Best Of remains a wonderful album, full of singalong moments - none greater, of course, than the legendary Lola, which may not be the best song the Kinks ever released and has - let's face it - completely ridiculous lyrics - but you can't argue with that pulsating piano and driving guitar. You can buy this disc from Amazon for £3.48, which is a fantastic bargain. You can also download individual MP3s for 79p each, but the full disc is better value if you want five or more tracks. And you will. You will.
1. You Really Got Me
2. All Day And All Of The Night
3. Tired Of Waiting For You
4. Everybody's Gonna Be Happy
5. Set Me Free
6. See My Friend
7. Till The End Of The Day
8. Dedicated Follower Of Fashion
9. Sunny Afternoon
10. Dead End Street
11. Waterloo Sunset
12. Autumn Almanac
15. Plastic Man
19. You Do Something To Me
20. Where Have All The Good Times Gone
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 You Really Got Me - Shel Talmy, The Kinks
2 All Day And All Of The Night
3 Tired Of Waiting For You
4 Everybody's Gonna Be Happy
5 Set Me Free
6 See My Friend
7 Till The End Of The Day
8 Dedicated Follower Of Fashion
9 Sunny Afternoon
10 Dead End Street
11 Waterloo Sunset
12 Autumn Almanac
15 Plastic Man
19 You Do Something To Me
20 Where Have All The Good Times Gone