Today's Music Moment is about The Kinks.
Formed in 1963, they are considered one of the '60's British invasion bands, but never quite achieved the level of popular recognition bestowed upon the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or the Who. Critics, however, have long lauded the Kinks for being one of the foremost bands of rock and roll, and any student or graduate of the School of Rock <grin> appreciates and understands the contribution made by this band.
Their early singles, such as "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" from 1964 remain rock standards. Van Halen covered the former and scored a hit, and boosted the Kinks' popularity, but for purists (like me), the original will always be the best. The Kinks' earlier hard-edged sounds were replaced later, somewhat, by Ray Davies' (lead vocals/guitar) focus on writing about social situations and on his clever wordplay. 1965's "A Well-Respected Man" is a classic of social commentary and a pointed dig at propriety.
Ray Davies is one of the best performers in the history of rock. He blended music, lyrics, and theater to achieve a mixture that is rarely found in music: a renaissance man, one who managed to channel his past influences and form a unique sound, and an innovative and new voice in music. Kinks fan (and a pretty good guitarist in his own right) Pete Townshend said for The History of Rock 'n' Roll that "The Kinks were much more quintessentially English. I always think that Ray Davies should one day be Poet Laureate. He invented a new kind of poetry and a new kind of language for pop writing that influenced me from the very, very, very beginning."
Ray's brother, Dave (lead guitar/vocals), is one of the unsung guitar heroes of rock. For the early sixties, Dave Davies' guitar licks were much edgier and harder than anything being done at that time. A loud, distorted guitar riff, achieved by Dave's slicing of the speaker cones in his amp, gave "You Really Got Me" its signature, gritty guitar sound. The new sound led to hard rock, and eventually resulted in heavy metal. "All Day and All of the Night" is a prime example of this different sound.
"Lola," a single released in 1970, remains a cult hit and certainly pushed the edge of the envelope of standards at the time. The tale of an encounter with a transvestite, who "walked like a woman and talked like a man," is known to most, and if played in any dance club, the crowd will shout, "L-O-L-A LOLA!"
I loved the Kinks throughout the '70's, but a big commercial breakthrough came for them when they released a live album in 1980, "One For The Road." Their excellent performance, both theatrically and musically, gained them new fans and new commercial success. Subsequent albums in the next couple of years were also successful, and this period marked the high point of their commercial success.
In 1990, their first year of eligibility, The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
A bit of trivia (or two):
Ray Davies was awarded the rank of Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004, for "services to music." On January 4 of that year, Ray Davies was shot in the leg while pursuing a thief who had snatched the purse of his companion in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Ray Davies released a solo album in January 2006 titled "Other People's Lives," and it was highly acclaimed by critics. The album gave Ray Davies his first top 40 album chart success in the UK for almost 40 years.
If you love music, do yourself a favor and give this band a closer look. You won't be disappointed. I know there are lots of videos posted in this entry, but each one is a different phase of the Kinks' musical history. It's all good stuff, in my book!
P.S. Got a call from Ken, he made it safely to Dallas. Yay!