Articles Tagged: The Kinks

Certain Songs #872: The Kinks – “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy”

Album: Misfits
Year: 1978

In one of those coincidences that really only could have happened in the late 1970s, there was not one, but two relatively big songs written by British rockers with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” in the title.

Which makes some sense, as both Ray Davies and Paul Rodgers were pushing the ripe old age of 30, and the 1970s was pretty the peak of rock ‘n’ roll fantasy lifestyle, so not only was it not that surprising they wrote these songs, what is surprising is that Pete Townshend, Robert Plan and Mick Jagger didn’t also write songs called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy.” Though honestly, Townshend at least wrote tons of songs where that was the theme.

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Certain Songs #871: The Kinks – “Juke Box Music”

Album: Sleepwalker
Year: 1977

As if to draw a line in the sand between phases of their career, 1976 was the first year in the Kinks history without a new studio album. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I really like in an artist is prolificness, and The Kinks — Ray Davies, really — were more so than most.

To make a comparison with their surviving British Invasion peers, The Who had started skipping years in 1968 (skipping ’68, ’70, ’72,’74 & ’76) and the Rolling Stones in 1970 (skipping ’70 & ’75), but not only had The Kinks put out 14 studio albums from 1964-1976 (compared to 13 by the Stones and, er, seven by The Who), they would put out eight more between 1977-1989, when they finally started slowing down. By comparison, The Who only put out three albums in that period, and the Rolling Stones six.

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Certain Songs #870: The Kinks – “No More Looking Back”

Album: Schoolboys in Disgrace
Year: 1975

FOUR YEARS LATER

For me, the albums that followed Muswell HillbilliesEverybody’s in Showbiz, Preservation Act 1, Preservation Act 2, A Soap Opera — were all duds. For whatever reason, Ray Davies had distanced himself from his songs, either via writing strictly for characters or piling instrument after instrument between himself and his listeners.

It’s all signified by the cover of Preservation Act 1: The Kinks had tripled in size while losing 2/3 of their focus.

I’m sure there are gems on every one of them (I know there are on A Soap Opera, of all things) — including the one classic song from that period that some of you might be worried I’m skipping (which I’m not) — but my collective impression of them is that they’re overcluttered and shrill.

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Certain Songs #869: The Kinks – “20th Century Man”

Album: Muswell Hillibillies
Year: 1971

Just as some of you think that Face to Face is the equal of the records that followed it, a lot of Kinks fans think that Muswell Hillbillies is the equal of the albums that followed it. I don’t quite share that opinion, even though I think both of those records are incredibly strong.

That said, Muswell Hillbillies does stand as a definite transition album — away from the rock and pop songs that had previously dominated their sounds toward horn-and-piano-filled roots music from both sides of the pond.

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Certain Songs #868: The Kinks – “God’s Children”

Album: Percy Soundtrack
Year: 1971

Wait! What is the Percy Soundtrack? That’s a very good question. As Ray Davies had come off of three successful concept albums in a row, the producers of the film Percy thought it would be cool to have Ray write a bunch of songs for the soundtrack of their comedy about the first successful penis transplant.

And in case you’re wondering: this wasn’t a fly-by-night indie film. This was a relatively big production starring people like Denholm Elliott, Elke Sommer and Britt Ekland and was the 8th-highest grossing film in the U.K. that year. Even better, it was based upon a novel by Robyn Hitchcock’s father, Raymond.

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