When I was just starting to get into music as a young child, I spent many hours going through my parents vinyl collection, where I found a lot of music that got me hooked and still stays with me today. They were big fans of Queen and The Beatles but one of the first bands that really stuck with me were The Kinks, so when I got a chance to delve into some of the reissues of their albums I couldn’t wait.
With seven albums being released this year in three separate batches, the first of the reissues we got hold of at TINAS are “Kinda Kinks” and “The Kink Kontroversy”, both originally released in 1965. Both albums feature the original line up of songwriters Ray Davies (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, keyboards) and Dave Davies (Lead guitar, backing vocals), drummer Mick Avory and Peter Quaife (bass, backing vocals) and also features occasional keyboardist Nick Hopkins.
“Kinda Kinks” was the second album the band released and includes famous ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’ and a cover of Martha & The Vandellas‘ ‘Dancing In The Street’, but the album is full of genuinely great British pop music such as ‘Come On Now’ and ‘Look For Me Baby’. With 12 songs in 27 minutes, this is a short sharp burst that shows plenty of what was to come with later albums, and definitely leaves you wanting to listen to more.
On the accompanying bonus CD you get a generous 23 tracks that includes 6 singles, the ‘Kwyet Kinks’ EP, demos, alternate versions and BBC recordings. An early version of ‘Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy’ (covered by Queens Of The Stone Age on ‘Songs For The Deaf) is here along with a melancholic solo demo version of ‘This I Know’. The BBC recordings keep the introductions from Brian Matthew including the line “You shouldn’t be sad now…you should be delighted – it’s our long haired top of the bill…” and also have a short interview with Ray Davies at the end of the song.
Next up is “The Kink Kontroversy” which was the bands third album. This album shows a more melancholy and soulful side of the band. From the opener ‘Milk Cow Blues’ to ‘Gotta Get The First Plane Home’ which could easily be a Beck song and the Dylan-esque ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone’. This albums shows off again their ability to play many styles, but also that the Davies brothers could write downbeat songs as well as chart friendly tracks.
The 15-track bonus CD with this album again contains singles (including two versions of the classic ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ and ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’), studio out – takes, demos and BBC recordings. It also has a couple of interviews, one with Ray Davies about writing for other people and one with Peter Quaife about the success of their most recent releases. My particular favourite on this CD is the angry ‘Mr. Reporter’ which is seems to be a more polite, very British, forerunner to Guns ‘N’ Roses ‘Get In The Ring’.
After the recent Ray Davies ‘See My Friends’ album there has been a resurgence of interest in The Kinks‘ back catalogue, and this is no doubt hoping to open some of that audience to listen to the songs first time round. In terms of songwriting, I think the Davies brothers are up there with Britain’s very best, and the fact that they played so many different styles so comfortably would seem alien to many bands nowadays who stick to a formula to achieves and sustain success.
I am sometimes dubious of remastered albums as the production of the album is as important as the tunes on there, and just making an album sound shinier and nicer doesn’t always improve things, but thankfully they haven’t altered too much with these albums, they have just been cleaned up the sound a little and by adding the bonus songs, they have made this album a must have for die hard fans and an excellent place to start for the curious listener. For the pure amount of songs and the history and evolution of The Kinks shown over the four discs (and extensive liner notes that come with them), these are must have albums.