Synopsis of Pop Music
Plenty of hit-making bands came from England, but few were as thoroughly English as the Kinks. This talented group started out a rough-and-ready rock group with hits like “You Really Got Me” but soon developed a unique sound that blended English subjects and musical styles with a contagious rock and roll energy. They were also blessed with one of pop music’s finest songwriters in Ray Davies, a tunesmith who could effortlessly churn out gems like “Sunny Afternoon” and “Celluloid Heroes.” As a result, they became world-famous without ever losing the English-ness that made them so special.
The Kinks formed in 1963 and were originally called ‘The Ravens.’ They built their musical chops by playing the English club and ballroom circuit. They also recorded a demo tape that landed them a record contract the next year. That same year, they scored their first worldwide hit with “You Really Got Me,” a stomping rock tune built on a distinctive, feedback-heavy guitar riff. This instant classic shot to #1 in the U.K. and became a Top-10 smash in the U.S. It was quickly followed by another hard-rocking classic in “All Day And All Of The Night.” Today, these two hits are considered to be the roots of heavy metal.
However, the Kinks soon revealed themselves to be much more than a hard-rock band. Songs like “Tired Of Waiting For You” showed new musical confidence with their complex melodies. The band’s material, mostly written by Ray Davies, developed a distinctly English tone as it started working in elements of folk and English music-hall. Davies also had a wry sense of humor that shined through in songs like “A Well Respected Man,” which satirized the suburban mindset, and “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” which poked fun at the overly fashion-conscious. “Sunny Afternoon” was another suburban satire with a catchy melody.
Soon, albums by the Kinks moved from being collections of songs to full-on artistic statements. Ray Davies began thinking in conceptual terms on The Village Green Preservation Society, which fashioned together its songs into an album-length tribute to the England of Davies’ youth. It was followed by Arthur, a full-blown rock opera with an anti-war theme. In 1970, they scored one of their biggest hit albums with Lola and Powerman Versus the Moneygoround. It contained “Lola,” a rocking tune about gender confusion that became one the group’s most beloved hit singles.
During the 1970’s, the Kinks became concept album specialists. Muswell Hillbillies explored the life of working-class Englishmen, while Everybody’s In Showbiz dealt with the difficulties of being a rock musician. The latter album contained “Celluloid Heroes,” a moving tribute to stars of the past that has become the favorite of many a Kinks fan. Preservation Act I and Preservation Act II were two installments of a musical that satirized big business. They were followed by Soap Opera, a satire of stardom, and Schoolboys In Disgrace, which skewered the public-school experience.
The Kinks supported these albums with a series of theatrical-styled tours, complete with costumes and props. The Kinks scaled back these antics as the 1970’s ended in favor of a more straightforward rock and roll style. Albums like Misfits, Sleepwalkers and Low Budget were filled with short, sharp rockers that harkened back to their early days while working modern elements of punk and new-wave into their sound. As a result, songs like the Top-40 hit “Rock and Roll Fantasy” became radio favorites as their tougher sound won them new fans in the concert arena.
1980 began with a hit album for the Kinks in the form of One For The Road. This double-live album captured their new arena-friendly style perfectly. It made the top of 15 of the album charts, as did the studio follow-up, Give The People What They Want. That album also featured a radio favorite in “Destroyer,” a humorous hard-rock tune about paranoia. In 1983, the Kinks scored their biggest hit in years with “Come Dancing,” Davies’ affectionate tribute to his sister and her love of visiting dance halls. It hit #6 on the charts and added to the success of its parent album, State Of Confusion.
Ray Davies made his debut as a director in 1984 with Return To Waterloo. As one might expect, the Kinks did the score. The group released albums like Think Visual and U.K. Jive throughout the end of the 1980’s. During the 1990’s, the group continued to record as both Ray and Dave Davies wrote their own autobiographies (X-Ray and Kink, respectively). They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
Today, the Kinks are rightly revered as rock and roll legends. Although the group has not recorded new music since 1993, the Kinks' classic work continues to be extremely popular with fans and musicians alike. Their songs have been successfully covered by groups like Van Halen and are hailed as a key inspiration by modern English groups like Blur and Oasis. Their blend of strong melodies, rock and roll energy, and personality is the kind of thing that never goes out of style and has ensured them an eternal place of importance in the pop music world.
Artist Release History1965 - Kinda Kinks
1965 - You Really Got Me
1965 - Kinks-Size
1965 - Kinkdom
1965 - The Kink Kontroversy
1966 - Face to Face
1967 - Something Else by the Kinks
1968 - Live at Kelvin Hall
1968 - The Village Green Preservation Society
1969 - Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the...
1970 - Lola vs. the Powerman & the Money-Go-Round, ...
1971 - Percy (original soundtrack)
1971 - Muswell Hillbillies
1972 - Everybody's in Show-Biz (live)
1972 - The Kink Kronikles
1973 - Preservation: Acts 1 & 2
1973 - The Great Lost Kinks Album
1973 - Preservation: Act 1
1974 - Preservation: Act 2
1975 - The Kinks Present Schoolboys in Disgrace
1975 - The Kinks Present a Soap Opera
1977 - Sleepwalker
1978 - Misfits
1979 - Low Budget
1980 - One for the Road (live)
1981 - Give the People What They Want
1983 - State of Confusion
1984 - Word of Mouth
1986 - Think Visual
1988 - Road (live)
1989 - UK Jive
1989 - Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
1990 - Kinks Live: the Road
1993 - Phobia
1994 - To the Bone
2000 - Come Dancing With the Kinks: The Best of the...
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsThe Village Green Preservation Society (Reprise)
Come Dancing With The Kinks: The Best of 1977-1986 (Arista)
Greatest Hits (Rhino, 1989)
Band MembersRay Davies lead vocals, guitar
Dave Davies lead guitar, vocals
Pete Quaife (1963-69) bass
Mick Avory (1963-89) drums
John Dalton (1969-78) bass
John Gosling (1971-78) keyboards
Gordon Edwards (1978-79) keyboards
Jim Rodford (1978- ) bass
Ian Gibbons (1979-89) keyboards
Bob Henrit (1989- ) drums