BBC4’s Rock Documentary last night “Kinkdom Come” shone a light on the oft overlooked brother in The Kinks – Dave Davies. It was a wonderful insight into a man often painted in the media, especially in the 1960s, as a hell raiser and a hooligan!! Dave Davies was the first to admit in “Kinkdom Come” that he had his moments of angst, hedonism and potentially self destructive behaviour. However the documentary revealed the Kinks lead guitarist, perpetually cast in the shadows of his older brother Ray, as a deeply thoughtful, cerebral, spiritual and sensitive man. Infact it occurred to me that he shares exactly the same character traits possessed by Ray Davies. This goes a long way to explaining why the Davies brothers have clashed so much over the years, especially when you add close sibling rivalry, competitiveness and jealousy into the mix!!
Some of the hostility that has manifest itself between Ray and Dave Davies is perhaps due to the latter’s dominance of their early hit records, and the former’s dominance and control of their later music. The Kinks’ first hits peaked at No1 and No2 respectively – “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night”, which showcased the belligerent and sexually charged guitar play of Dave Davies. The Kinks early hits and album tracks, epitomised by “I got love if you want it” were very much steeped in the Rhythm and Blues, like their contemporaries The Rolling Stones. It strikes me that as their early success faded, and 1964 turned in to 1965, Ray Davies’ melodic and melancholic influence and songwriting came to the fore with the No1 “Tired of Waiting for You” and the slightly psychedelic sounding “Set me Free”, “See my Friend” and “Till the End of the Day”. I think The Kinks could legitimately lay claim to being the Founding Fathers of Psychedelia and original deployers of the Citar, ahead of George Harrison and The Beatles!!
Somewhat ironically, as The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, Small Faces and Traffic became the exponents of a more psychedelic sound in 1966 and 1967, Ray Davies and The Kinks were already moving in another direction. This according to Dave Davies in “Kinkdom Come” was almost certainly in an attempt to tone down their act for the American consumer and massive US record buying market!! They served a ban for two years in the mid 1960s, which saw them prevented from performing live in the USA. Whatever the motivation, The Kinks songs became more observational and wistful. At this juncture Ray Davies had come in to his element, drawing on all the suburban sentimentality of his childhood in Muswell Hill and Fortis Green, North London. Maybe he was also influenced by the “kitchen sink” dramas and films of the late 1950s and early 1960s like “Room at the Top”, “A Taste of Honey”, “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” and “Billy Liar” that depicted British industrial working class life and middle class surburban life so accurately and beautifully.
Whatever the motivation, what followed in 1966 and 1967 were the perfectly crafted and socially well observed “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”, Dead End Street” and “Autumn Almanac”. Interspersed amongst these Top 5 hits were the No1 “Sunny Afternoon”, which satirised their new found fame and rock star lifestyle, and the sublime “Waterloo Sunset” that was denied the No1 spot by the greatly inferior “Silence is Golden” by the Tremeloes – if only their music had been silent!! If ever a song should have been No1, it was the peerless “Waterloo Sunset”. The fact that it failed to reach the top of the charts is a crime of epic proportions, only matched seven years later when the Hollies’ “The Air that I Breathe” was kept in the No2 bay by Paperlace’s “Billy Don’t be a Hero”!!
The year 1970 saw The Kinks have their final two Top 5 hits with the beautifully observed and comical “Lola” and “Apeman”, which almost pre-empted the Glam Rock era that was to follow. There was one final excursion in to the Top 20 in 1983, which acted as a fitting Kinks chart encore – “Come Dancing” took us all back to a slice of suburban society in the early 1960s, showcasing the demise of The Palais, where Ray and Dave’s sister Gwen used to go dancing on a Saturday night. According to the song, the long lamented venue for dancing and courting had been replaced by a car park, which was symptomatic of appalling local government town planning in the 1970s that actually saw in real lfe the Cavern Club, home of The Beatles, demolished and replaced by a car park in Matthew St, Liverpool!!
But for the Beatles and the songwriting prowess of Lennon and McCartney, I believe that Ray Davies would have been crowned Poet Laureate of Pop in the 1960s!! Although nobody would deny the prolific brilliance of Lennon and McCartney, in this final paragraph I would like to state the case for why Ray Davies should be the Official Poet Laureate of Pop in the 1960s. The Kinks seminal, iconic album “The Village Green Preservation Society” perfectly epitomises, encapsulates and celebrates the quintessential English rural and suburban life in 1960s society. Ray Davies’ songwriting projects and conveys a tapestry of the traditions, trials and tribulations of English rural and suburban life. In terms of accurately depicting a sense of the society he lived in, he is up there with novelist Thomas Hardy and painters Constable and Turner who captured the pre Industrial Revolution pastoral life. He is also a peer of LS Lowry and Sir John Betjeman who’s respective paintings and poetry caught the mood of a post Industrial Revolution society. Betjeman’s work was acknowledged and recognised by his appointment as Poet Laureate. On this basis, Ray Davies should be appointed Lyric Laureate for his contribution to music: and a plot should be allocated in St Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey for when he finally bows out from the world he has captured so well in words……
You can capture, preserve and re-live the memories of 1960s Society and the music of Ray Davies and The Kinks, by ordering your favourite Kinks vinyl record or CD, single or album, framed and mounted as a picture disc. ORDER NOW by clicking on…….. http://www.myfirstrecord.co.uk/
Alternatively this would make a unique present or original gift for a special celebration ie a Wedding, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th or 70th Birthday, a Silver, Ruby or Golden Wedding Anniversary, Father’s or Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day!! THE PERFECT PERSONALISED PRESENT!!
MyFirstRecord.co.uk have most of The Kinks albums and singles available in their original vinyl record format on the Pye Records record label.
Select from this full list of albums –
(Released in the US as You Really Got Me)
(US only album)
1965 Kinda Kinks
(US only album)
1965 The Kink Kontroversy
1966 Face to Face
1967 Something Else by The Kinks
1968 The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
1969 Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
1970 Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround
1971 Percy (soundtrack)
1971 Muswell Hillbillies
1972 Everybody’s in Show-Biz
1973 Preservation: Act 1
1974 Preservation: Act 2
1975 Soap Opera
1975 Schoolboys in Disgrace
1979 Low Budget
1981 Give the People What They Want
1983 State of Confusion
1984 Word of Mouth
1986 Think Visual
1989 UK Jive
If you would like any of The Kinks albums or any of their hit singles, framed and mounted, ORDER now by clicking on….. http://www.myfirstrecord.co.uk/
For all other Kinks merchandise and memorabilia, click on their official website…… www.thekinks.info/
Or you might like to visit the official Kinks Fan Club website…….. www.officialkinksfanclub.co.uk/
Or check out Ray Davies’ MySpace Page……… www.myspace.com/raydaviesofficial