Kinks - Spotlight On The Kinks
Of all the bands who came out of Britain in the sixties, it is a toss up as to which out of the Yardbirds and the Kinks deserved far more recognition at the time than they actually got. Certainly in terms of their influence on those who came after them. The Kinks were one of the great bands of this period of British music and Ray Davies must be reckoned as one of the most observant, witty and sagacious songwriters of his generation, if not any generation.
Part of the Kinks' failure in this regard was the rather strange ban they got from touring the US. I never understood why it happened, and all it seemed to be there for was the fact that the American Federation of Musicians needed to ban somebody to demonstrate they were standing up for American musicians and not succumbing totally to the British invasion. It seems as if the Kinks were in the wrong place at the wrong time and so they got tarnished with the brush. Unfair as it may be, it contributed to the changing of the way the Kinks approached music in the succeeding years.
As a result of the ban, the Kinks became more distinctly British in their music and their style, denied access to the cultural influences of the States. If anything, this made them stand out all the more from the rest, but did nothing to enhance future prospects across the pond. Albums such The Village Green Preservation Society were quintessentially English and would have probably sounded very peculiar to non-British ears, despite the fact that particular album is widely regarded as their best.
But Ray Davies was always an astute observer of what we might call the English condition. As well as being, without doubt, one of the most original and entertaining songwriters of his generation. This shows through in the music, with songs rooted in sixties British (predominantly London) centred music. He populates his world with characters, as many of the great songwriters - Lloyd Cole and John Watts for example - do. And the characters in Davies's lyrics were all average (and in some cases un-average) people going about their normal day. It was their very normality, and the eccentricities which accompanied it, as well as the normality which they represented which fascinated Davies. In his songs you find the poser ("Dedicated Follower of Fashion"); the commuter ("Mr Pleasant"); the liar ("Plastic Man"); and the transvestite ("Lola"). It should come as no surprise then that of all the songs which emerged from Britain in the sixties, it is "Waterloo Sunset" which is today regarded as the song which spoke to a generation. That bridge is never the same after you have watched the sun set across it while listening to this track on the iPod). Never mind the Beatles or the Stones, it was the Kinks who truly captured what it was to be young, British and metropolitan in the heady days of the 1960's
This album, then, is the ultimate in Kinks compilations as it brings together the great characters and situations of Ray Davies' world, a world which is still largely familiar to British people today. From the earliest songs when the Kinks were a brash band leading the Mod culture all the way through to those pen pictures and vignettes which so perfectly captured the world in which he lived. All your favourite tracks are here in one place. Relive the memories of those great songs.
Sounds like an ad? Well go out and buy it then!
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