The guru of internet music reviewing, George Starostin, once said that most people fall into two categories when it comes to The Kinks: those who have never heard of them, and those who consider the band to be among the top ten all-time musical greats of the XXth-century, if not the greatest band to ever exist. There is a lot of truth in that quote, and even though The Kinks are not and will never be my favourite band (there’s just too much crap in their post-’72 catalogue), I still consider them to be essential, and one of those full-of-surprise “wow, why haven’t I heard this before?” moments that people just need to experience. Off we go:
1) Those incredible 6 years. Or, to be more precise, the ’67-’72 “golden” era, which found Kinks at the absolute top of their game. Never again would The Kinks find such perfect balance between musical ambitiousness, ear-catching accessibility and well-thought, yet not overwhelming lyrical concepts. Those six albums (beginning with ‘Face To Face’ and ending with ‘Everybody’s In Show-Biz’) represent the true pinnacle of their work, and few other bands managed to keep themselves at such an incredible level of consistency over such a long stretch of albums, without once repeating themselves. Their other work has its fair share of good stuff, but most of the times it’s too inconsistent or overshadowed by either faceless arena-rockers or tuneless theatrical ramblings. But not those 6 albums. Nope, those are mostly perfect and I would kindly suggest giving them a good listen.
2) The tunefulness of their music. If you listen to one Kinks song at random (again, only referring to the golden era), chances are high that you’ll like it from the very first listen and end up humming it for the rest of the day. Because, Ray Davies at his absolute best, simply could not do wrong when it comes to musical hooks. Thus, I’ve always considered The Kinks, along with The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, to be one of the most accessible bands to ever walk on this planet of ours.
3) The emotional resonance. It’s true that Ray Davies was never as direct of a song-writer as say, John Lennon. In fact, most of the times it’s hard to figure out whether he’s writing about himself or just putting one of his characters’ mask on. But that does not change the fact that the themes addressed by Ray usually create a large platform for the listener to resonate with him. Come on, who hasn’t felt at least one bit nostalgic while listening to ‘Village Green Preservation Society’? Or a bit embarrassed by a certain event similar to the one described in ‘All Of My Friends Were There’? Or lonely and isolated as Ray describes himself to be in ‘Sitting In My Hotel’? There are many, many examples, as are emotional moments in the Kinks’ discography. I’ll say that regardless of who you are, there will be a moment when you’ll pause the song and think to yourself “he’s really singing about me, that British motherfucker!”.
Categories: 3 Reasons Why You Should Listen to a Band