Tuesday, March 8, 2011
It must have been a few months ago – I found myself browsing through music magazines in a Borders and chanced upon a feature story on Ray Davies that utterly shocked me. I didn’t buy the magazine and I can’t exactly remember which one it was – it may have been a recording magazine of some sort since the story focused on the closing of noted Kinks recording studio “KONK” in London. The closing of professional recording studios is nothing new given the current state of the music industry and the economy in general these days (even Abbey Road has been threatened lately…….). What shocked me were the pictures of Ray sort of schlepping around the (very empty looking) studio, moving carts of equipment down hallways and looking generally pretty sad. Now, it’s possible Ray may have been playing it up a bit for the camera, but there was just a look of defeated resignation on his face that was ………… awful, really.
Now, I’m not about to start pissing and moaning on about “poor Ray” – I’m sure he’s managed decently enough financially (I would bloody well HOPE so, anyway). But it seems to me there’s a rather conspicuous absence of any real ongoing appreciation for the Kinks these days. Essentially there were only four major English bands from the 60's that made serious ripples : The Beatles, The Stones, The Who and The KINKS. Beatles are still popular, Stones are still stoning away, Who music can be heard on CSI – where’s the LOVE for the KINKS??
The last time you could see the Kinks live was in 1996. That was the last year they released any new material – and this was even on a “live compilation” disc. The last totally new Kinks album was released in 1993. Uh, that’ll be 20 years ago in TWO MORE YEARS. Now, since that time Ray and brother Dave have had solo shows going on – Dave suffered a stroke a few years ago – Ray got mugged in New Orleans before that, but they’ve both survived and managed to make new music despite the adversities – just not TOGETHER, as THE KINKS.
Recently, there have been overtures coming from Ray about getting the Kinks back together, but Dave’s not biting this time (the legendary feuding continues……..). Now, don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of respect for Dave and I’m sure he’s got some darned valid reasons for holding his ground. And, dammit, I respect him for that in an era of the “lame sellout” mentality we’re in nowadays. But, how shall I put this……it all makes me want to stand up and shout: “HEY! REMEMBER THESE GUYS?? THEY WERE PRETTY BLOODY AMAZING!! FOR GOD’S SAKE – GOD SAVE THE KINKS, ALREADY!!”
I only saw the Kinks live once. 1985 - Eisenhower Hall - West Point. They ROCKED! It was a great show – Ray even jumped into the crowd and grabbed a girl and started dancing in the front row at one point – it was classic. I totally regret not seeing them at least once more. Over the years my appreciation for their music has grown – all the different eras – the snotty garage sound of the early days, the wistful & pastoral mid-60’s Waterloo Sunset period – heck, even the weirdo 70’s concept albums have some stellar moments (I’ll recommend “Schoolboys in Disgrace” in particular as a “lost classic”). And lets not forget those great late 70’s, early 80’s hits (wouldn’t you loved to have written a song like “Better Things”?).
Last night it was the “Muswell Hillbillies” album – there are some truly sublime moments on that record. Oklahoma USA? Have a Cuppa Tea? You can download the whole record for eight bucks on amazon – when was the last time a record knocked you on your ass – do yourself a favor a score a copy of this – good for whatever ails ya. Have a cuppa tea, fer chrissake have a cuppa tea…….
I posted this video on my facebook the other day:
– a live TV rendering of “The Village Green Preservation Society” from 1972. Now, I know this song (and the album of the same name) like the back of my hand, but watching this clip I was stunned at how LITERATE and INTELLIGENT these lyrics are. Well, it wasn’t a big hit song, yet still I can’t help wondering – could a major music act get away with something like this today?
Alright – now its your turn – what’s your favorite Kinks song? Any albums you’re missing? Do yourself a favor and pick one up, download it, whatever……….. GOD SAVE THE KINKS!!!