Guide to British Music of the 1960s

November 1997

Book Review

The Kinks- Well Respected Men


The Kinks sat outside the UK Mod scene although they are often included as close to Mod artists because of the time they came to prominence and the subject nature of some of the songs. Many of Ray Davies' songs, indeed those for which he is best-known, are based around England and London life. Dedicated Follower of Fashion, though, could be said to be anti-Mod. The group produced a string of top hits during the 1960s including number ones but they never really received the accolades awarded to bands like the Beatles, Rolling Stones and the Who.

This book describes the career of the Kinks from earliest days to present. In particular, there are avid descriptions of the tensions present in the group, particularly between Ray and his brother Dave. Noel and Liam have nothing on these two. Maybe this tempestuous relationship brought out the best in the band. Elsewhere the group was not without controversy. A number of things led people to believe that they were gay and this was at a time when this had not been legalised in the UK. There was the way they dressed, often in red hunting jackets, and references in some of the songs such as "pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight" to See My Friend and then we found that Lola was actually a man.

Ray Davies comes across as the driving force within the band. However, the fact that it was Dave's band before Ray joined is cited as one of the reasons for the difficulties. Dave also released successful solo singles under his own name during the 1960s such as Death of a Clown (aimed at Ray?) and Susannah's Still Alive.

After the 1960s heyday, the Kinks changed. Ray started to write albums that were more like concept albums and less hit singles. However. In more recent years, there has been a small return to hits with Better Things and Come Dancing. The band continues to be an important live act and has found big success in the USA, a feat not achieved during the 1960s.

The book is recommended to anyone who wants to learn more about the Kinks. Much of the music, especially the early hits, is very well known but less is known about the group itself. This book corrects that by combining a biography of the group's development with a critical appraisal of the recorded output.

ISBN: 1-86074-135-5

First published 1996 by Sanctuary Music Library.

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