This review was originally published on The Doughnut.
Though it is a pleasure to review the albums and EPs of new, up-and-coming and lesser-known artists, sometimes it’s nice to look a group who used to be massive and have left a lasting legacy. Just for a change, you know?
The Kinks were one such group. Huge in the Sixties, the group had less success in later decades despite being cited as major influences in the nineties for Britpop artists such as Blur but their legacy was pervasive and their hits enduring. The musical ‘Sunny Afternoon’ opened in 2014 and it is on the back of the success of this show – which tracks the life and times of brothers Ray and Dave Davies as they formed the group – that this double album has been released.
The tracks contain all the songs from the show in order along with a few extra tracks plus nine interview and BBC session tracks to finish. I suspected there would be lots of padding – nonentity tracks and interviews which would be interminably long and dull – but I was wrong. Every time both CDs came to an end I had that “oh, it’s finished” feeling of disappointment and immediately hit the play button again. The interviews are short and snappy but give a flavour of how very different The Kinks were and how little even American interviewers could understand where they were coming from.
The CDs include all their hits of course – ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Days’, ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’, ‘Lola’, ‘All Day and All of the Night’, ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘A Well Respected Man’ among so many others. My favourite though is the demo track ‘I Go To Sleep’. It is so very different that it sticks in the brain and that’s very typical of The Kinks. One minute they are (unknowingly) ushering in the Punk era to come, then producing cute, Music hall-style funny songs before then hitting us hard with pathos and depth. While the songs all maintain the smell of the Sixties, you’d think different bands had written and performed them.
Strange to think that none of this could have happened without this one song:
It is well-documented how Dave Davies, almost in desperation as the band was failing to gain commercial success, hit upon the power chord riff which opens the song. Realising the power of a catchy riff, you can argue that single idea was catalyst that led to phenomenal success at the time for the band and a legacy which isn’t abating even now. Certainly, that riff is a textbook lesson for all budding Rock and Pop stars in how to get a Number 1 hit. All songwriters should study The Kinks.
The Kinks – ‘Sunny Afternoon’ 2CD album is available from the 16th October 2015.