Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mix-Up: The Kinks

Who doesn't like making mix CDs for friends? If you answered, "Me!", leave now. No really. Get out of here. Yer bumming me out. So my friend Kim gave me the task of compiling a Kinks mix for her because she keeps hearing their classic songs on Sirius radio. But of course, such an open-ended request usual means I'll go a bit overboard. And so instead of me teaching Kim about The Kinks I learned that I really didn't know much myself. This process has been a win-win.

The first thing I did was wrangle everything I already owned, which is:
- The Kink Kronikles, the 1972 double-album compilation of thier peak-period
- 1967's Something Else By The Kinks, long considered their towering classic LP
- an import Greatest Hits which covers some of their early Pye singles
- 2 Konk/Velvel samplers from 1998, covering their 70's output.
All of this which I've never listened to nearly enough, like most of my gigantic CD collection.

Then I did some reading. As I have since I was a senior in high school (all those many years ago), I pulled the Rolling Stone Album Guide off the shelf. Even if you don't agree with their ratings, it's at least good as a starting point, a first batch of info if you will, that you can then play with and prove wrong (if you like). I took what I learned there over to the good ol' Wiki, and started exploring the discography links, and bouncing back and forth to Allmusic.

And of course I did what any self respecting music obsessive in 2007 would do: I downloaded their entire discography (almost two & a half GBs), then picked through what I needed.

The first thing you learn about The Kinks, from general consensus:
If you want to like The Kinks, and enjoy their great work, and be truly satisfied, then for Pete's sake, STOP at 1972!! Sure, there may be good songs, and maybe in there somewhere is a good album or two, but I want GREAT! And great stops with fuckin' "Celluloid Heroes". As it should. I started at the end. I had my last song.

The second thing I learned was that pretty much from the jump, they were contenders. "You Really Got Me" was only their third single. That's unreal. They're usually placed also-ran 4th after The Three *ahem* Great British Invasion bands. But what hipsters like me and thousands of others have been learning since Damon & Jarvis were dropping Ray Davies' name like kickass singles AND groupie panties in the mid-90's, The Kinks were just as good as The Beatles, Who & Stones, and those three ripped The Kinks off left & right. I learned that listening to The Village Green Preservation Society (from 1968) reveals that Paul McCartney's a fucking biter, and his "classic" song-suite on side 2 of Abbey Road (from 1969) borrows it's entire mood & style from The Kinks classic from a year earlier. And don't even get me started on Pete Townshend, who I love. It's like anything The Who did before Live At Leeds is suddenly just not as good, cuz The Kinks did it better...except maybe being loud. The Who had a better drummer & bigger amps. But Ray Davies owns Townshend in the tough-mod-with-an-insecure-center songwriting. When Davies' creative spark started to run out of gas, Townshend dropped Who's Next and took the spotlight for good.

The Beatles, Stones & Who all have a bundle of indesputable classic singles from the mid-60's, but the one thing that I got from exploring The Kinks singles discography is that their B-sides are almost always as good as their A-sides. That's very rare. While The Beatles were covering Chuck Berry again, or rerecording lyrics in German, The Kinks were banging out "I Need You", a massive proto-punk anthem and creepy emo-stalker theme song.

So right here, I unveil my 2-disc, 52 song journey through The Kinks' highpoints, covering "You Really Got Me" (their third single, from the fall of 1964) through the epic "Celluloid Heroes" (a flop of a single from the fall of 1972). If you feel inclined, have fun compiling your own copy.

Disc One
01. You Really Got Me (Single 8/64, from The Kinks)
02. All Day And All Of The Night (Single 10/64)
03. I Gotta Move (B-side 10/64)
04. Stop Your Sobbing (from The Kinks)
05. Tired Of Waiting For You (Single 1/65, from Kinda Kinks)
06. Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy (Single 3/65- UK A-side/US B-side)
07. Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl (from Kinda Kinks)
08. Who'll Be The Next In Line (Single 3/65- UK B-side/US A-side)
09. Set Me Free (Single 5/65)
10. I Need You (B-side 5/65)
11. See My Friends (Single 7/65)
12. A Well Respected Man (Single 10/65)
13. Till The End Of The Day (Single 11/65, from The Kink Kontroversy)
14. Where Have All The Good Times Gone (B-side 11/65,
from The Kink Kontroversy)
15. Milk Cow Blues (from The Kink Kontroversy)
16. Dedicated Follower Of Fashion (Single 2/66)
17. Sittin' On My Sofa (B-side 2/66)
18. She's Got Everything (Recorded in early 1966, B-Side 6/68)
19. I'm Not Like Everybody Else (B-Side 6/66)
20. Sunny Afternoon (Single 6/66, from Face To Face)
21. Dandy (from Face To Face)
22. Holiday In Waikiki (from Face To Face)
23. Fancy (from Face To Face)
24. Dead End Street (Single 11/66)
25. Big Black Smoke (B-side 11/66)
26. Mr. Pleasant (Single 4/67)
27. David Watts (from Something Else By The Kinks)
28. Love Me Till The Sun Shines (from Something Else By The Kinks)
29. Waterloo Sunset (Single 5/67, from Something Else By The Kinks)

Disc Two
01. Death Of A Clown (Dave Davies solo single 7/67,
from Something Else By The Kinks)
02. Autumn Almanac (Single 10/67)
03. Susannah's Still Alive (Dave Davies solo single 11/67)
04. Wonderboy (Single 4/68)
05. Days (Single 6/68, on European versions of
The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society)
06. The Village Green Preservation Society (from The Kinks Are
The Village Green Preservation Society
07. Picture Book (from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society)
08. Starstruck (Single 1/69, from The Kinks Are
The Village Green Preservation Society
09. Village Green (from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society)
10. Plastic Man (Single 3/69)
11. King Kong (B-side 3/69)
12. Drivin' (Single 6/69, from Arthur (Or The Decline & Fall Of
The British Empire)
13. Mindless Child Of Motherhood (B-side 6/69)
14. Shangri-La (Single 9/69, from Arthur (Or The Decline & Fall Of
The British Empire)
15. Victoria (Single 12/69, from Arthur (Or The Decline & Fall Of
The British Empire)
16. Lola (Single 6/70, from Lola Vs. Powerman & The Moneygoround, Pt. 1)
17. Get Back In Line (from Lola Vs. Powerman & The Moneygoround, Pt. 1)
18. Apeman (Single 11/70, from Lola Vs. Powerman & The Moneygoround, Pt. 1)
19. God's Children (Single 4/71, from the Percy soundtrack)
20. 20th Century Man (Single 12/71, from Muswell Hillbillies)
21. Oklahoma U.S.A. (from Muswell Hillbillies)
22. Supersonic Rocket Ship (Single 5/72, from Everybody's In Show-Biz)
23. Celluloid Heroes (Single 11/72, from Everybody's In Show-Biz)

- Exhaustive Kinks discography
- Wikipedia: The Kinks [main page]
- Wikipedia: The Kinks [discography]
- Allmusic: The Kinks


Anonymous said...

Raz, I have no words! But this blog entry is getting printed and will live alongside my two disc compilation.

This list is staggering in it's awesomeness. I mean, all the songs I have been obsessing over and SCOURING Sirius for, are here. I can't wait to throw this in my car stereo and blast it all summer long. In my Wayfarers.

Jacko said...

It was great finding this post. I have the same Kinks obsession and overall music condition.

I already had virtually everything on vinyl for years, plus a dozen cds covering most everything '64-70. It's not that I don't like post '70 Kinks. It's more that their 60s work was so brilliant, and my love affair so intense, that after 15 years, I still can barely bring myself past it to explore the rest.

It's not the same group. I always considered it going through Lola absolutely, Muswell maybe. But i'll grant you '72. Everything beyond that seems rather middle of the road and pedestrian by their 60s standards. It is like a 15 year hangover from a great party.

As far as i'm concerned, if they'd broken up in '70 with the Beatles and never recorded another note, it would've been a fairytale ending. I can't help looking at Soap Opera or Schoolboys In Disgrace as something akin to Paul, five years on, forcing John and George to play Venus and Mars.

I made a similar compilation for cousins years back, covering roughly the same period with the same tracks. But the sound quality was uneven, and recently i've been all fired up to nab some remasters and do it again right. Which in my obsessive zeal means that this time around, two discs will never be enough. Haha

The beginning to end quality of Face To Face, Something Else, Village Green, Arthur, etc makes it virtually impossible to cherry pick representative tracks. A third or fourth disc could be added easily.

I like all your selections. I would still be missing Never Met A Girl Like You Before, Don't You Fret, Session Man, Little Miss Queen Of Darkness, Most Exclusive Residence For Sale, Mr. Reporter, Act Nice and Gentle, Harry Rag, Afternoon Tea, Situation Vacant, Tin Soldier Man, Lazy Old Sun, Til Death Do Us Part, Misty Water, Sitting By The Riverside, Monica, Animal Farm, Do You Remember Walter, People Take Pictures Of Each Other, All Of My Friends Were There, Pictures In The Sand, Some Mother's Son, Australia, Mr. Churchill Says, Rats, Berkeley Mews, etc, etc.

That's a third volume right there, easy. And every bit as essential. I read your story about your friend and couldn't help but think of my own experiences wanting to share the magic with friends and family. Don't worry about going overboard. Go the extra mile. I've done 6-8 disc collections for people before, and always worry about the practicality of it. In the end, though, I figure if the response is pitched somewhere around 'overwhelmed', then i've done a good job. Judging by her response, i'm guessing she'd love all the other Kinks Klassics mixed in as well.

I'd also like to suggest that you look into the Zombies if you aren't familiar with them. Similar story. Remembered for a handful of songs bookending their career (She's Not There, Tell Her No, Time Of The Season), tragically overlooked the rest of the way, but never even made it to '70. Sheer pop brilliance. I place them only a shade under the Beatles and Kinks in the pop hierarchy. And with a good 4000 albums in my collection, I don't give that endorsement lightly.

It didn't last long. '64-67, but it is staggeringly gorgeous and unforgettable. You assemble a disc or two of their best work and I swear your heart will skip a beat. Don't miss them. The Zombies Heaven Box provides virtually their entire career in one place. Considering they only released 2 albums and everything else is scattered around on rare singles and collections with inconsistent sound quality, the box is really the only way to go. They should've been huge. 'Heaven' is no exaggeration.

Anyway, great looking blog you have here and thanks for letting me share.