The first signs of the birth of a new musical genre already manifested themselves in the fifties, “metallic” notes were noticeable in the then rhytm and blues performers guitar playing and rock and roll music style itself was pushing it’s boundaries.
However, the revival had to wait until 1964. The London based band “The Kinks” made their song “You Really Got Me” then, which already contained the characteristics of this genre. The “hottie” hard sound, the powerful and complex playing style, the rocky solo guitar and a new concept emerged from jazz in connection with the catchy, repetitive guitar tirades.
The riff embodies the musical basis for the hard rock/metal style. The song by The Kinks enjoyed a huge success, and quickly got on the top of British charts. The Kinks is really hard to categorize. Some claim they are the vanguards of heavy metal, they were influenced by myriad of musical styles.
This is not surprising regarding the slightly nasal voice of Ray Davies, the guitar solo of her brother Dave, the heavy rhythm of Peter Quaife (bass) and Mick Avory (drums). But probably one could say that they are an alternative beat band, because Davies is not at all averse from social criticism and satire: from telling bittersweet stories about show-business or rather about the survival opportunities in the sales world, as this quote suggests:
“Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.”
In turn the music business of the sixties was just an operett compared with the next decades… Obviously, it is not surprising that the poetically inclined Ray -whose younger brother, Dave played also in the Kinks not as his six sisters- at the beginning of the acclimatization of “cargo rock”, in 1973 he attempted suicide.
The Kinks was a really scandalous band, with a plenty of blatant cases attributable to them. It often happened, that the members started to fight on the stage. Guitars were broken, women were screaming. Vulgar words were shouted, glass shards were flying in the air. They were banned from the USA because of their agressive behavior, and this incident sealed their fate: they never got as succesful as The Rolling Stones or The Beatles. The USA had a great influence on the musical industry then (even as today).
The Kinks broke up in 1996, and there were many reasons fans doubted they’d ever get together again. Bassist Peter Quaife died in 2010. Guitarist Dave Davies has been at odds with drummer Mick Avory ever since a 1966 gig in Cardiff, Wales; Davies, angry about an argument from the day before, spat on Avory, and the drummer hammered him with a high-hat cymbal in return. Most crucially, Davies and his brother, Kinks frontman Ray Davies, have spent decades at war, getting on about as well as Cain and Abel.
The Kinks, then trained for one short year, becoming serious competitors to the big sharks of world rock, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. This basic song from the first album -simply titled Kinks (without the “The”)- remained a tube.
After Kinks, the group continues with Kinda Kinks (March 1965). In both cases there are reprises of rhythm’n’blues and soul hits (Got Love If You Want It, Dancin’ in the Street) and compositions under this influence. But the subtle pop directioon also develops (Stop Your Sobbin’, Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl).
Here are the six best song of The Kinks:
6. Sunny Afternoon
Davies said of the song’s lyrics, “The only way I could interpret how I felt was through a dusty, fallen aristocrat who had come from old money as opposed to the wealth I had created for myself.” In order to prevent the listener from sympathizing with the song’s protagonist, Davies said, “I turned him into a scoundrel who fought with his girlfriend after a night of drunkenness and cruelty.”
Sunny Afternoon is a hit song of the English rock band The Kinks written by Ray Davies. The single was available on June 3, 1966 in the UK, he placed number one in the UK charts on 7 July 1966 chasing Paperback Writer of the Beatles and stayed there for 2 weeks.
The title appears on the soundtrack of the movie Good Morning England. The narrator of the song, which was his companion took everything, says in poverty, it remains for him to enjoy a sunny afternoon. The resignation, mixed with a feeling of sassy casualness and poky acquiescence unequivocally comes into view.
5. Dead End Street
Another poem about poverty, oppression and hopelessness. The song represents a man who is in debt, who gets no chance to work, even though he is willing to invest his abilities. The world is so unjust. Many people do not get the chance for a better living.
There are many problems. But isn’t this the nature of things? Can the root of this problem ever be sold? Or injustices are like weeds which regrow again and again? There is nothing new under the sun, says even the Bible.
And the paradoxical thing is if there were no problems, there would not be any necessity for working, but labour is about resolving problems, among which the lack of work possibilities plays a major role. I.e. there is work, until there are problems. But what if the problem is the lack of work?
4. Waterloo Sunset
“But I don’t need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise”
This is a hymn to solipsism. And again, resignation. We all know that feeling of disappintment, when we realize that we cannot count on others. When we think that we do not need anyone to succeed, that friendship is just a compromise and we are tired of always complying with the requirements.
The lonely soul is inclined to be disillusioned of multitude with time. He who looked beyond maya’s veil, discovered the infinite beauty of his self and found the peaceful deepness beyond the fluctuating, confusing waves of the surface.
Being alone does not necessarily mean loneliness. In the long run we all are alone. We all face death alone. It is you who feels the pain, who has to decide in the most important issues of life, nobody else. The most important thing is to get in harmony with ourselves.
‘It was a real experience in a club. I was asked to dance by somebody who was a fabulous looking woman. I said “no thank you.” And she went in a cab with my manager straight afterwards. It’s based on a personal experience. But not every word.‘
The song details a romantic encounter between a young man and a possible transvestite, whom he meets in a club in Soho, London. Lola provoked some controversy in it’s time, since it touches a sensitive topic.
Does the state have a right to chip on our sexual tempers? Are our bodies the property of the state or we are free to decide about it? Anyway, love is an unassailable thing, which stands above genders, nations and age differences.
“I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man”
Apeman is a parody of the lifestyle of modern men. It is an open criticism of the consumer society. We sacrifice nature on the altar of our apparent comfort and we do not think the amount of energy, time and money we spend on the maintenance of our conveniences.
Not to mention that we are constantly squeezed by the possibilty of a nuclear war, and the air we breathe in is polluted.
This song is a romantic longing to a more peaceful world, an utopian island, where the eternal sun shines on everyone.
1. Tired of Waiting for You
And at the end a true jeremiad. The singer complains about the time he has to waste with too much waiting for his woman. Being free to live our life as we wish does not mean that we can do anything with others. This stands only for ourselves, but we have to be considerate of others. It is not easy, but one has to try.
I say goodbye with this wise quote from Ray Davies which he wrote to appeal for reconciliation with his brother Dave, who’s creative talent was the foundation of the Kinks ethos for decades :
“There’s gotta be a place for
us to meet I’ll call you when
I’ve found it, I only hope that
life has made us a little more
Thank you for your attention. I hope you enjoyed this article about this flagrant band from the sixties. This is only the first article of our legendary rock bands series. If you liked this one, you can also read more about The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Pink Floyd and, of course, The Beatles. Stay tuned.