- The Kinks
Infobox musical artist
Name =The Kinks
Background = group_or_band
Genre = Rock,
Hard rock, Protopunk
Years_active = 1963–1996
Label = Pye, Reprise, RCA, Arista, London, MCA, Sony, Konk/Guardian
Ray Davies Dave Davies Pete Quaife Mick Avory
Jim Rodford Ian Gibbons Bob Henrit
The Kinks were an English pop and rock group formed in 1963, and categorised in the US as a
British Invasionband. Despite being less commercially successful than their contemporaries, the Kinks are sometimes cited as one of the most important and influential rock bands of all time.cite web|title=The Kinks Biography on All Music.com|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:5q6wtr59kl5x~T1|accessdate=2006-08-21]
The band's early hard-driving singles set a standard in the mid-1960s for
rock and roll, while albums such as "Face to Face",cite web|title=The Kinks Biography on RollingStone.com|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/thekinks/biography|accessdate=2006-08-21] "Something Else", " The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society", "Arthur", and " Muswell Hillbillies" are highly regarded by fans, critics, and peers, and are considered amongst the most influential recordings of the era.
As self-professed Kinks fan
Pete Townshendsaid for "The History of Rock 'n' Roll": "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."
The Kinks first gained prominence in 1964 with their third single, the hit "
You Really Got Me", written by Ray Davies. The band's name came from their "kinky" dress sense of leather capes and boots worn on stage.cite web|title=The Kinks Biography on BBC Music.co.uk|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/music/muze/index.pl?site=music&action=biography&artist_id=16533|accessdate=2006-08-21] The group's original line-up consisted of Ray Davieson lead vocals/ rhythm guitar/keyboards, Dave Davieson lead guitar/vocals, Pete Quaifeon backing vocals/ bass guitar, and Mick Avoryon drums and percussion. Following Quaife's departure in 1969, the band centred around the three remaining original members and frequently changed bassists and keyboardists. In 1984, friction between Dave Davies and Mick Avory resulted in the latter's departure, leaving only the brothers from the original line-up. However, the increasingly deteriorating relationship between the Davies brothers, with a string of unsuccessful records, led to the break-up of the band in the mid-90s. Rumours of Kinks reunion are vague and bandmembers have since embarked on solo careers.
Their influence on emerging artists has been a constant. During the New Wave era, groups such as
The Jam, The Knack, and The Pretenderscovered Kinks songs and Britpopacts such as Blur, Oasis and Supergrasshave cited them as a major influence. Many modern bands such as The Killers, The Libertines, and Franz Ferdinand also acknowledge The Kinks and Ray Davies' expert songwriting skills. In the VH1documentary HEAVY:The Story of Metal The Kinks are mentioned as one of the early bands that can be traced with a heavy metal sound.
Formation and first years: 1963 – 1966
The Davies brothers were born at 6 Denmark Terrace,
Fortis Green, North London. Ray Davies (b. Raymond Douglas Davies, 21 June 1944; vocals/guitar/piano) studied to be a theatre director at Hornsey College of Artand gained experience in music as a guitarist with the Soho-based Dave Hunt Band in 1963. Ray and his brother Dave (b. David Russell Gordon Davies, 3 February 1947; guitar/vocals) had been playing skiffleand rock and roll together. Both Brothers attended William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School, now known as Fortismere School. Ray's friend and schoolmate Pete Quaife (b. Peter Alexander Greenlaw Quaife, 31 December 1943, Tavistock, Devon, England; bass/vocals) joined them and they formed a band, with Quaife's friend John Start on drums. The band went through a series of lead vocalists at this time, the most notable being Rod Stewart. Stewart performed with the group on at least one occasion in the spring of 1962(when they were called The Ray Davies Quartet), but was soon dropped due to complaints about his voice from then-drummer John Start's mother as well as musical and personality differences with the rest of the band.
The band went under many names between 1962 and 1963 including "The Ray Davies Quartet," "The Pete Quaife Band," "The Bo-Weevils," and "The Ramrods," before the band settled on "The Ravens" in the summer of 1963 and recruited drummer Mickey Willet. A December 1963 audition with
Philips Recordsended in rejection, but eventually a demo tape landed in the hands of American record producer Shel Talmy, who helped them land a contract with Pye Recordsin early 1964. It was during this time that The Ravens changed their name to The Kinks.
Before signing to the label, drummer Willet left the band. The Kinks invited drummer Mick Avory (b. Michael Charles Avory,
February 15 1944, in East Molesey, Surrey), to join the band after seeing his advertisement in the magazine " Melody Maker". Moreover, Ray knew Mick as the two grew up together in the same neighbourhood. Avory's previous experience included one gig with the fledgling Rolling Stones,cite web|title=Mick Avory Biography onDrummerWorld.com|url=http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Mick_Avory.html|accessdate=2006-08-24] but his background was in jazz drumming. [ [http://www.retrosellers.com/features69.htm 2001's Interview with Mick Avory] ]
The first single from The Kinks, "
Long Tall Sally", was a cover of a Little Richardsong, but because The Beatleshad also covered it with enormous success, The Kinks' version was overlooked. Nevertheless, the band received a lot of publicity through the efforts of their managers Robert Wace, Grenville Collins, and ex-1950s showbiz star Larry Page. Their second single, "You Still Want Me", also failed, while ignominiously shifting a minuscule number of units.
The third single, "
You Really Got Me", entered the charts at No. 1 in the United Kingdom and made the top 10 in the United States, boosted by a performance on the U.K. television show Ready Steady Go!. With a loud, distorted guitar riff — achieved by Dave's slicing of the speaker cones in his Elpico amplifier (referred to by the band as the "little green amp") — gave the song its signature, grittier guitar sound. "You Really Got Me" provided a blueprint for hard rock, and served as template for heavy metal. The group's fourth single, " All Day and All of the Night", another hard rock tune, was released in late 1964. It rose to No. 2 in the United Kingdom, and hit No. 7 in the United States. In 1965, The Kinks recorded "Set Me Free" and " Tired of Waiting for You", which both featured a repeated bass guitar riff.
The group released three albums and several EPs in the next two years. They also performed and toured relentlessly, which caused tension within the band. Some legendary on-stage fights erupted during this time as well. In the most notorious incident at
The Capitol Theatre, Cardiff, Walesin 1965, the normally placid drummer Avory hit Dave Davies with his hi-hat pedal and assaulted him on stage.Avory later claimed that it was part of a new act in which the band members would hurl their instruments at each other.
Following the summer 1965 American tour, the
American Federation of Musiciansrefused permits for the group to appear in concerts in America for the next four years, cutting the Kinks off from the main market for rock music at the height of the British Invasion. [ [http://kinks.it.rit.edu/misc/articles/kinksin.html Who Let the Kinks In?] , Loraine Alterman, Rolling Stone, 18 December 1969, archive copy on Dave Emlen's Unofficial Kinks Web Site, accessed 17 September, 2007] Although neither the Kinks nor the union gave a specific reason for the ban, at the time it was widely attributed to their rowdy on-stage behaviour. [ [http://kinks.it.rit.edu/misc/articles/scourge.html The British Scourge] by Timothy Crouse, "Show Guide" Magazine, 1969, archive copy on Dave Emlen's Unofficial Kinks Web Site, accessed 17 September, 2007]
The group made its first tour of Australia and New Zealand in January 1965 as part of a "package" bill that included
Manfred Mannand The Honeycombs. A stopover in Bombay, Indiaon the way to Australia led Davies to write the song "See My Friends" (released as a single in July 1965). This was a prominent early example of crossover music, and along with The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood", was one of the first pop songs of this period to display a direct influence from the traditional music of the Indian subcontinent. According to Ray Davies' book "X-Ray", he was inspired to write "See My Friends" after hearing the songs of local fishermen during an early morning walk.
The band's stylistic changes were first evident in late 1965, with the appearance of singles like "
A Well Respected Man", " Dedicated Follower of Fashion", and their third album " The Kink Kontroversy". These demonstrated the progression in Davies's songwriting, from hard-driving rock numbers towards social commentary, observation, and idiosyncratic character study, all with a uniquely English flavour. The satiric single " Sunny Afternoon" was the biggest U.K. hit of summer 1966, topping the charts.
Prior to the release of "The Kink Kontroversy", Ray Davies suffered a nervous and physical breakdown from the pressures of touring, writing, and ongoing legal squabbles. He spent several months recuperating, during which he wrote several new songs and pondered about the band's direction. Quaife also left the band for much of 1966 after an automobile accident. After he recovered, he decided to step back from the band. Mick Avory's friend John Dalton replaced Quaife, but Quaife decided to return at the end of the year. This caused a little tension as Avory was more used to Dalton's style of playing.cite web|title=Mick Avory Interview on retroSellers.com|url=http://www.retrosellers.com/features69.htm|accessdate=2006-09-01]
"Sunny Afternoon" was a dry run for the band's "Face to Face", which displayed Davies' growing skill at crafting gentle yet cutting narrative songs about everyday life and people. One of the songs from the album, "Session Man", was written about notable
session musician Nicky Hopkins, who often joined the band in the studio playing keyboards, mellotron, and harpsichord. Hopkins had first played with the band during "The Kinks Kontroversy" sessions the year before. He would play on the band's next two studio albums and would also be featured on numerous live BBC recordings with the band, before joining The Jeff Beck Groupin 1968.
The great social commentary single, "Dead End Street", was released at the time of "Face to Face," and became another big U.K. hit. It failed commercially in the United States, only reaching No. 73 in the Billboard charts.
'Golden age': 1967 – 1972
In May 1967, The Kinks returned with "
Waterloo Sunset" (which reached No. 2 on the U.K. charts), an emotional single with the melancholic observer spying two lovers meeting and crossing over Waterloo Bridge in London. The song was rumoured to have been inspired by the romance between two British celebrities of the time — actors Terence Stampand Julie Christie—Fact|date=July 2007 though Ray Davies denied this in his autobiography. The songs on their enduring 1967 album " Something Else By The Kinks" expanded the musical progressions of "Face to Face", adding English music hallinfluences to the band's sound. Dave Davies scored a major chart success with "Death of a Clown", co-written with Ray and recorded by The Kinks, but released as a Davies solo single (although confusingly also released on the "Something Else" LP). Later, the Rolling Stones would remark that "Face to Face" and "Something Else" were both serious influences on their own albums of the late 1960sfact|date=May 2008.
After a disappointing commercial reception for "Something Else", The Kinks rushed out a new single, "
Autumn Almanac", which became another U.K. hit. But their next single, "Wonderboy", released in the spring of 1968, stalled at No. 36 and would be the band's first single not to make the Top Ten since their early covers.
Throughout 1968, Davies continued to pursue his deeply personal songwriting style, while at the same time rebelling against the heavy demands placed on him to keep producing commercial hits. At the end of June, The Kinks released the single "Days", which made #12 in the United Kingdom. It was a Top 20 hit in several other countries in the summer of 1968 — although it did not chart in the United States — and it is also notable as the last recording made by the original lineup of the group.
Their next album, released in the autumn of 1968, is now widely regarded as a masterpiece, but at the time "
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society" failed to sell strongly. A collection of thematic vignettes of town life, it was assembled from songs written and recorded over the previous two years, but the album's deliberately understated production contrasted with the extravagant style then in vogue, and it did not have a popular single ("Starstruck" was released as a single in North America and continental Europe, but failed to chart anywhere but the Netherlands). Although it was commercially unsuccessful, "Village Green" was embraced by the new underground rock press, particularly in the United States, where The Kinks' status as a cult band began to grow. "Village Green" is now widely considered one of the best rock records of the era. An album track, "Picture Book", was featured in a popular Hewlett-Packardtelevision commercial in 2004.
Original bassist Peter Quaife resigned in March 1969 to form his own band,
Mapleoak, but also because there was a long standing rivalry between him and Ray, and was swiftly replaced by John Dalton. The American ban upon the band was finally removed that same year. Yet the band had to now adapt to an American concert scene that had changed radically in their absence; when The Kinks returned to the United States, their shows were at first held in smaller venues such as the Fillmore East. It would take several years of extensive U.S. touring between 1969 and 1972 before the band developed a disciplined stage act that would generate positive reviews and draw crowds to larger concert venuesfact|date=May 2008.
Before their return to the United States, The Kinks recorded another album, "
Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)". As with the previous two albums, "Arthur" was soaked with British lyrical and musical hooks, having been conceived as the score for a proposed but never realised television drama. It was a modest commercial success and was particularly well received by music critics in America, where it was favourably compared to the rock opera "Tommy" by The Who. Much of the album was inspired by Ray and Dave's beloved sister Rosie, who had migrated to Australiain the early 1960s with her husband. Rosie was a significant musical influence on the brothers in their youth, and she inspired numerous Kinks songs, including "Australia", "Rosie Won't You Please Come Home" and "Come Dancing".
The band added keyboardist
John Goslingto their permanent line-up while recording the follow-up to "Arthur". Before that, veteran keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, along with Ray, had done most of the session work. Gosling debuted with The Kinks on "Lola" (1970), a clever account of a confused romantic encounter with a transvestite that became both a U.K. and U.S. hit. The song originally contained a reference to " Coca Cola", but the BBC refused to play it as this was considered a violation of their advertising policy. The single then had to be hastily re-recorded with the offending line changed to "cherry cola". The album " Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One" was their most successful since the mid-1960s. The album also featured the group's final U.K. Top 10 hit, "Apeman."
In 1971, the band released "Percy", a soundtrack album to a film of the same name about a penis transplant. It is generally regarded as a lesser effort. The band's U.S. label, Reprise, declined to release it in America, precipitating a major dispute that contributed to the band's departure from that label.
In 1971, the band's contracts with Pye and Reprise expired. Before the end of the year, The Kinks signed a five-album deal with RCA Records and received a million dollar advance. This helped fund the construction of their own recording studio, Konk. Their debut for RCA, "
Muswell Hillbillies", was soaked with country influence and is often hailed as their last great record, though it failed commercially. A few months after the release of "Muswell Hillbillies", Reprise released the double-album compilation " The Kink Kronikles", which actually outsold "Muswell Hillbillies".1972's double album " Everybody's in Show-Biz" consisted of half studio tracks and half live tracks recorded during a two-night stand in New York's Carnegie Hall. The record featured the ballad " Celluloid Heroes" and the catchy "Supersonic Rocket Ship", their last U.K. Top 20 hit for more than a decade. "Celluloid Heroes" was a bittersweet rumination on dead Hollywood stars in which Ray Davies admits that he wishes his life were like a movie, "because celluloid heroes never feel any pain/And celluloid heroes never really die." The album was a commercial failure in the United Kingdom, but more successful in the United States. The record was a transitional piece between the band's early 1970s rock material and the theatrical incarnation in which they would immerse themselves over the next four years.
Theatrical incarnation: 1973 – 1976
1973, Ray Davies dived headlong into the theatrical style, beginning with the rock opera "Preservation", a sprawling chronicle of social revolution, and a more ambitious — if less successful — outgrowth of the earlier "Village Green Preservation Society" ethos. In conjunction with the "Preservation" project, Davies expanded The Kinks' lineup to include a horn section and female backup singers, essentially reforming the group as a theatrical troupe. "Preservation: Act 2" was the first project recorded at Konk Studio. From this point forward, virtually every Kinks studio recording would be produced by Ray Davies at Konk.
Ray's marital problems during this period would prove to adversely affect the band. Coupled with the band's abuse of drugs and alcohol and some members' antipathy for their new theatrical incarnation, the band's output remained uneven and their already wobbling popularity eroded further. Notable songs from this period include "Daylight", "Where Are They Now?", and "Sweet Lady Genevieve", as well as the more rock-oriented "Money Talks".
', closer in spirit to vaudeville than to rock opera, was released in late
1973amid generally poor reviews, although its live performances fared better with the critics. ' appeared in the summer of 1974 to a similar reception. Davies soon began another musical, Starmaker, this time for the Britain's Granada Television. After a broadcast with Ray Davies in the starring role and The Kinks as both back-up band and ancillary characters, the project eventually morphed into the thematically complex if uneven concept album "The Kinks present A Soap Opera", released in the spring of 1975, in which Ray Davies fantasized about what would happen if a rock star traded places with a "normal Norman" and took a 9-5 job.
1975, The Kinks recorded their final theatrical work, " Schoolboys in Disgrace", a backstory biography of "Preservation's" capitalist overlord Mr. Flash. Compared with the previous three albums, the songs on "Schoolboys" were more independent from the album's concept and featured a harder rock sound. With its funky beginning and emotive lyrics, "No More Looking Back" was considered a stand-out track by fans, and the straight ahead rocker "The Hard Way" became a Kinks concert fixture for the following decade. Some of the songs were performed at the Dutch Pinkpop festival, where a blind-drunk Ray Davies raced through an embarrassing golden oldies set, to the amusement of the equally inebriated crowd.
The Kinks signed with
Arista Recordsin 1976, reborn with the encouragement of Arista's management as an arena rockband, stripped back down to a five-man core group.
Rock was also in a "back-to-basics" trend at this time, spearheaded by the Punk movement and the emergence of late 1970s "supergroups". One of the biggest bands of the time,
Van Halen, achieved their breakthrough hit with an arena rock remake of "You Really Got Me", which in turn greatly boosted The Kinks' commercial resurgence. The band soon reappeared on the record charts in what would prove to be their most successful commercial period.
Return to commercial success: 1977 – 1984
John Dalton left the band before finishing "Mr. Big Man" for their debut Arista album.
Andy Pylewas brought in to complete the track and to play on the following tour. "Sleepwalker" featured the touching ballad "Brother" and the reflective rocker "Juke Box Music". The single "Father Christmas" followed in late 1977and became a seasonal fixture on U.S. rock radio. The b-side "Prince of the Punks" was Ray Davies' satirical comment on his former protégé Tom Robinson of "2-4-6-8 Motorway" fame.
Andy Pyle and keyboardist John Gosling soon left the group to work together on a separate project. Dalton returned to complete the tour, and ex-
The Pretty Thingskeyboardist Gordon Edwards joined the band. The Kinks' second Arista album "Misfits", and their only album with Andy Pyle, was released in 1978 and included the minor hit "A Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy," mid-life crisis tribute to The Kinks' dedicated fanbase. The album's title track was a commentary on the band's lack of commercial success. "Misfits" is often cited as one of the band's better later albums.
There were soon to be further line-up changes before The Kinks coalesced around a more stable line-up. Dalton left the band permanently after the end of their UK tour, with Gordon Edwards soon to follow. Ex-Argent bassist
Jim Rodfordjoined the band, which recorded "Low Budget" with Ray Davies handling keyboard duties. Former Life keyboardist Ian Gibbonswas drafted for the following tour and soon become a permanent member. Despite the personnel changes, the group's recording and concert success continued to grow.
During this time in the late 1970s, new wave bands like
The Jam("David Watts") and The Pretenders("Stop Your Sobbing") and hard rock acts like Van Halen("You Really Got Me") recorded successful covers of Kinks songs, boosting each band's fame. At the same time, these cover versions helped fuel the commercial success of each new Kinks release. The hard and punk rocksounds of "Low Budget" (1979) helped make it the group's most successful album in America, peaking at No. 11. Davies' crafted intelligent, polished, and commercially appealing songs like "Pressure", "A Gallon of Gas", "Catch Me Now I'm Falling", and the minor, disco-flavoured hit "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman". 1979also saw The Kinks headline at Madison Square Gardenfor the first time.
A live album (their third) and video, both called "One for the Road", followed in 1980, bringing the group's concert drawing power to a peak between
1980and 1983. Dave Davies also took advantage of the group's improved commercial standing to fulfill his decade-long solo ambitions and released albums on his own, including the eponymous " Dave Davies" in 1980 (also known by its catalogue number "PL13603" owing to its striking cover art, which depicted Dave Davies as a leather-jacketed piece of price scanning barcode) and 1981's less successful " Glamour".
The next Kinks album, "
Give the People What They Want", was released in late 1981 and reached number 15 in the US. The record attained gold status, and featured the optimistic pub-rocker "Better Things" (a rare UK hit single), as well as "Destroyer", tracks reminiscent in sound to the band's 1960s heyday. The Kinks spent the better part of 1982touring. In spring 1983, the nostalgic "Come Dancing" became their biggest American hit (at number 6) since " Tired of Waiting for You". It also became the group's first top 20 hit in the UK since 1972, peaking at number 12 in the charts. The anthemic album " State of Confusion" followed and was another commercial success, going to number 12 in the US, but once again failing to chart in the UK, as had all previous albums since 1967. Prominent tracks were the ballads "Don't Forget to Dance (a US top 30 hit, and minor UK chart entry)," "Long Distance", the title track and the gentle sing-along "Heart of Gold". The song "Young Conservatives" in turn commented on the aspirations of the younger generation in the 1980s. During this time, Ray Davies became romantically involved with Pretendersleader Chrissie Hynde, resulting in the birth of a daughter, Natalie Ray, in 1983.
The Kinks performed
Saturday Night Livethree times during this period, further adding to their resurgent popularity. They first performed for SNL in 1977, then again in 1981, and one final time in 1984.
The Kinks' second wave of popularity effectively peaked with "
State of Confusion" in 1983, but both internal and external factors would soon begin to undermine them. A music video-fueled influx of new, fresh talent and styles into popular music at this time effectively muted the early 80s resurgence of many of the classic acts (including fellow UK bands such as David Bowie, The Who, and The Rolling Stones). Bands influenced by The Kinks, such as U2, The Smiths, The Jamand Duran Duranwere topping charts. The concert market for Kinks shows in the US had largely been played out by a decade of almost non-stop touring. As these outside pressures mounted, the internal strife in the group reached a critical point.
During the second half of 1983, Ray Davies started working on an ambitious solo film project, "
Return to Waterloo", about a London commuter who daydreams he's a serial murderer. (The film gave actor Tim Rotha significant early role.) Davies' commitment to writing, directing and scoring the new work caused tension in his relationship with his brother. Another problem was the stormy end of the volatile romance between Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde. The old feud between Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory also re-ignited. Soon Dave Davies wanted Avory replaced by the former drummer from Argent (a band in which Jim Rodford had also been a member), Robert Henrit, who had played drums on Dave's solo albums. It is also believed that Rodford also was instrumental in bringing his former bandmate in the fold.
These conflicts took a heavy toll on the band. Avory's relationship with Dave Davies had reached a breaking point. Dave Davies refused to work with Avory. Ray Davies said that Avory was his best friend in the band and he unwillingly had to choose sides, as said later in a 1989 interview: "The saddest day for me was when Mick left. Dave and Mick didn't get along. There were terrible fights, and I got to the point where I couldn't cope with it any more...Mick had an important sound. Mick wasn't a great drummer, but he was a jazz drummer - same school, same era as
Charlie Watts." Bob Henrit was brought in to take Avory's place. At Ray Davies' invitation Avory agreed to manage Konk Studios, where he also served as a producer and occasional contributor on later Kinks albums.
Between the completion of "Return to Waterloo" and Avory's departure, the band had already begun work on "Word of Mouth," released in late
1984with Avory still part of the line-up on three tracks. The album was similar to the last few Kinks records, but many of the songs had already been featured in solo versions on Ray Davies' companion album for "Return to Waterloo," and others lacked the heart, cleverness, and quality of the previous albums. The Kinks' rhythm section, no longer supported by Avory, was especially troubled, with a third of the tracks featuring Avory, others with Henrit, and still others supported by a drum machine which the band employed before the arrival of Henrit. Meanwhile, reports circulated that the Davies brothers were performing their album parts separately, unable to face each other in the studio. Despite everything, some standout material made the cut on "Word of Mouth", including Ray's ballad "Missing Persons", Dave's death-of-empire themed "Living on a Thin Line", and The Kinks' last Billboard Hot 100 entry, "Do it Again" (No. 41). Intense squabbles over song selections and singles released further strained the Davies brothers' working relationship. They have not made the Top 40 since.
Fall in popularity: 1985 – 1996
"Word of Mouth" was the last Kinks album for Arista Records. In early 1986, the group signed with MCA Records in the United States and London Records in the UK. Their first album for the new label, "
Think Visual", (1986) was a moderate success, and holds interest as a result of songs like the ballad "Lost and Found", "Working at the Factory," which equated making records with blue-collar life on an assembly line, and the title track, an attack on the very MTV video culture the band seemed to be enjoying so much during the earlier part of the decade. During the "Think Visual" sessions Mick Avory patched up his friendship with Dave Davies and played on Dave's composition "Rock 'N' Roll Cities". Avory was asked to rejoin The Kinks but declined, desiring a break from the non-stop schedule of recording, touring and performing. The Kinks followed "Think Visual" in 1987 with another live album, titled "The Road", which was a mediocre commercial and critical performer. In 1989, The Kinks released " UK Jive" - an out and out commercial failure. MCA Records ultimately dropped them, leaving The Kinks scrambling to find a label deal for the first time in over a quarter of a century. Longtime keyboardist Ian Gibbons left the group during this period, disappointed with the band's sudden lack of success, and was replaced by Mark Haley.
In 1990, their first year of eligibility, The Kinks were inducted into the
Rock & Roll Hall of Famealongside The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, The Four Seasons, The Four Tops, Hank Ballard, and The Platters. Mick Avory and Pete Quaife were on hand for the award. When receiving the award Ray Davies looked out at the audience and said, "Seeing everybody makes me realise rock 'n' roll has become respectable. What a bummer." The prestigious induction, however, did not bring back The Kinks' stagnated career. In 1991, a compilation from the MCA Recordsperiod, " Lost & Found (1986-1989)" was released to fulfill contractual obligations and their MCA period officially ended. The band signed with Columbia Recordsand released the 5-song EP "Did Ya", which, despite a new studio re-recording of the band's 1968 British hit "Days," failed to chart.
The Kinks' first album for Columbia, "Phobia" (1993), was released and recorded by the band as a four piece. Following the departure of Mark Haley after the bands sold out performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London, Gibbons rejoined for a US tour and again became part of the band. The record was critically well received, but yet again a commercial failure, only managing one week in the US Billboard chart at No. 166. As usual, no impression was made on the group's home country chart in the UK. The album contained a disproportionate contribution from Dave Davies and an at times overzealous heavy rock sound. But "Phobia" had moments of interest, including the call and response duet "Hatred," in which the Davies brothers sent up their fractious reputation as brawling brethren. One single, "Only a Dream" narrowly failed to reach the UK chart, climbing to No. 79. "Scattered", the album's final candidate for release as a single, was announced and TV and radio promotion followed, but the record could not be found in the shops. Several months later a small number appeared on the collector market.
Following this failure, the group was dropped by Columbia in 1994. In 1994 the band released the first version of the album "To the Bone" on their own Konk label in the UK, a live album recorded partly on the highly successful UK tours of 1993 and 1994, and in the Konk studio before a small invited audience. Two years later the band released a new improved double CD live set in the USA, still called "To The Bone", which now consisted of two new studio tracks ("Animal" and "To The Bone") paired with effective new treatments of many old Kinks hits. The record drew respectable press but failed to chart in either the US or the UK. After the Hall of Fame induction, The Kinks decided to make some moves in the "unplugged" direction and softened their live performances, giving sensitive treatment to little-played songs from their early career such as the aforementioned "Days" and "
I'm Not Like Everybody Else" from 1966.
In 1995, Dave Davies co-composed the soundtrack to horror filmmaker
John Carpenter's remake of the 1960 alien invasion classic "Village of the Damned", after performing on the soundtrack to the director's previous film, In the Mouth of Madness.
The band's name and profile rose considerably in the mid 1990s, mainly due to the British rock boom called "
Britpop" by the UK press. Several of the most prominent bands of the decade, including Blur, Pulp, Suede and Oasis, acknowledged The Kinks as a major influence on their careers and proclaimed themselves as among The Kinks' most admiring students. Blur frontman Damon Albarnand Oasis' chief songwriter Noel Gallagherespecially stressed that The Kinks were one of the bands that made the biggest impact on their songwriting as well as their development as artists and musicians. Sadly, all these accolades made little difference to the commercial viability of the group. Rumours of a final break-up began to unfold.
Ray Davies took to his familiar role as a touchstone for yet another generation of British rockers, and acted as Britpop's "godfather" in a manner reminiscent of his relationship to The Jam and The Pretenders in the late-1970s. His intricate autobiographical novel "X-Ray" was published in early 1995, while the Britpop hysteria was at its peak in the UK. Not to be outdone, brother Dave Davies responded with his memoir "Kink", published in the spring of 1996.
Disintegration and solo work: 1997 – present
The Kinks performed the last time in mid-1996. Band members are focusing on their own solo projects with Ray and Dave releasing acclaimed studio albums. Talk of a Kinks reunion has circulated (including an aborted studio reunion of the original band members in 1999), but both Ray and Dave Davies had shown little interest in playing together again. One of Ray's projects has included a choral work commissioned by the
Norfolk and Norwich Festival, performed but never recorded.
Despite all the post-break-up activity (or lack thereof), the old ties could still bind. In 1998, Ray Davies released the solo album "Storyteller" (a companion piece to his autobiographical novel "X-Ray") which celebrated his old band and his estranged brother. Before becoming an album, "Storyteller" began life as a cabaret-style show in 1996. Seeing the programming possibilities inherent in Ray Davies' music/dialogue/reminiscence format, the American music television network
VH-1launched a series of similar projects featuring established rock artists, titling their show " VH1 Storytellers".
In the autumn of 2005, The Kinks were inducted into the "
UK Music Hall of Fame", at which time all of the original band members were present again [http://as.wn.com/i/6a/09426f4d7b581f.jpg] . They are now the only major British Invasion band whose original members are all still alive. The award was given by long-time Kinks fan and friend of Ray, The Who's guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend, who expressed his wish to see The Kinks be reunited in 2006.
In August 2007 a re-entry of "The Ultimate Collection", a compilation of material spanning the bands' entire career, reached #48 in the UK Top 100 album chart and #1 in the UK Indie album chart.
In an interview with
BBC Radio 4on September 29, 2008, Ray Daviessaid that the seminal English band could reform soon. He said he wouldn't do it as a nostalgia act, but only to work on new material with the band. Davies told the UK radio station: "There is a desire to do it. The thing that would make me decide 'yes' or 'no' would be whether or not we could do new songs". Davies also went on to explain that the main barrier to the band getting back together was the illness of his brother, guitarist Dave Davies, who suffered a stroke in 2004. [http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/the_kinks_to_reform.html]
References and notes
* [http://www.raydavies.info/ Official Ray Davies Web Site]
* [http://www.davedavies.com/ Official Dave Davies Web Site]
* [http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/Article.aspx?id=5156 "The Kinks: Demon Alcohol,"]
January 23, 2008, by Dinky Dawsonat " Crawdaddy!"
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