by Robert Wilkinson
Yesterday I spoke of two musical geniuses with back to back birthdays. Today we send a big shout-out to another true songwriting genius of modern music, Ray Davies of the Kinks.
Ordinarily I feature one song in particular for our Saturday Night Attitude tune, but Ray has written so many songs with major attitude I got lost trying to find one. So tonight, you get to dance to every possible form of music, from rock and roll to twist to disco to whatever other styles of dance you know, since Ray has written a song in every possible dance fashion!
For those who weren’t there, the Kinks were part of the original "British Invasion" of 1964, and are generally considered the godfathers of punk, grunge, thrash rock, and served as inspirations for countless bands, including the Who, Pretenders, Van Halen, the Stranglers, and many more. They were there at the beginning, electric and loud and in your face, and pretty much hold the title of THE first true proto-punk rockers!
Ray Davies (21 June 1944) has composed countless hits, including some monsters that have endured the test of time! "You Really Got Me," "All the Day and All the Night," "Tired of Waiting," “Stop Your Sobbin’,” "See My Friends" (said to be the first raga based song in pop music), "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," "Sunny Afternoon," "Waterloo Sunset," "Victoria," "Days," "Apeman," "Lola," "Celluloid Heroes," "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman," "A Rock and Roll Fantasy," "Come Dancing," and so many more I've lost count over the years. Still, I've been a BIG fan since the very beginning, and so figured you should know about this singular talent of our times.
Ray has also acted, directed and produced shows for theatre and television, a logical offshoot of his many concept albums which were theatrical in nature and produced some amazing songs. His styles range from American rock and roll and blues to British Music Hall, and he's given us many tunes influenced by vaudeville, trad jazz, ragtime, and many more styles. He's sophisticated, witty, satiric, and his sense of irony has enabled him to skewer social hypocrisies and class systems through social commentary almost never seen in pop songwriting.
So today I'll give you a few of his best, and best known, for your enjoyment. As with Brian Wilson, there are just too many to give you a sense of the breadth of his genius, but enjoy what I've found, and check out the lyrics on some of them, since they're even better than the tunes, which is remarkable in itself.
From early in his career with the Kinks,
From 1965, a live performance on Shindig of the song that kicked the doors wide open when it hit the charts in 1964! "You Really Got Me." And here’s a great live performance from 1972 on the Beat Club of the Kinks doing “You Really Got Me”
A great two-fer! I don’t know where this concert is, but it’s another very exciting live performance from 1966 by the Kinks whipping out “You Really Got Me” with Dave doing a frenetic lead solo! And from that same gig, a fantastic live performance of the awesome "Till the End of the Day"
Their second major hit, "All The Day and All the Night"
Here’s a very early Ray Davies composition, “Stop Your Sobbin’” And here Ray’s old girlfriend Chrissie Hynde cranks it out as a hit for the Pretenders! Yes, it’s lip-synched, but whatever, since it’s still great footage from 1979. “Stop Your Sobbin’”
From 1965, the Kinks doing “Set Me Free”
The original recording of the B-side of "Set Me Free," the rocker "I Need You""Well Respected Man"
From 1966, live and cranking it up, the awesome "Till the End of the Day"
Moving into their "middle period" later hits, and some extraordinary social commentary, we bring you:
From a 2007 live show, here’s Ray doing his hit "Dedicated Follower of Fashion"
From a live 1973 show, a very short version of “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”
From a 1972 tv program “At the Rainbow,” a mix of great performances and interviews. I still can’t find the link for part 1, so you’ll have to enjoy parts 2 through 6, and I’ll see if I can find part one for the February 2015 Dave Davies birthday celebration.
From BBC television, here’s 30 minutes of the Kinks! The Kinks Live in Concert - 1973
Here’s a great find! From Christmas 1977 at the Rainbow, here are the Kinks live performing a great Christmas show!
The Kinks Christmas Concert part 3 (includes Sunny Afternoon, Waterloo Sunset, All Day and All of the Night.)
The Kinks Christmas Concert part 5 (Celluloid Heroes)
(Part 6 is nowhere to be found)
The Kinks Christmas Concert part 7 (Lola, Alcohol)
The Kinks Christmas Concert part 8 (Skin and Bones and of course, Father Christmas for the encore!)
From 1969, the Kinks live on TV doing “Last of the Steam Powered Trains” and “Picture Book”
Here’s Ray and the Kinks in a 1973 live performance in London doing the title track of the album “Village Green Preservation Society”
Ray live doing “Muswell Hillbillies”
From 2007, never done live before then, Ray's haunting comment on a not-so-comfortable middle class life, "Shangri-La"
An incredibly beautiful love song! For your enjoyment from 1969, the poignant "Days"
Live on top of the Pops, the Kinks' gender-bending mega-hit, "Lola"
Ray at his theatrical best doing the unique torch/drinking song, "Alcohol"
From the Rainbow Theater in 1972, “Alcohol”
Ray's wry take on the human condition! "Apeman"
From 1973, the great tongue in cheeky "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues"
From the same show, "Holiday"
A few from the late 70s and into the 80s!
Here’s another version from 1979 that’s a bit more electric!
From the same 1979 show in Providence, R.I, a song from "Arthur Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire." For your enjoyment, an incredible rocking version of “Victoria”
Live in 1979, the Kinks doing "Superman"
From 1981, Ray ripping himself off and reworking the same 3 chords that made him famous way back when! "Destroyer"
From 1982 in Australia, the Kinks cranking up “You Really Got Me” and “Destroyer”
Here’s a full 1 hour 50 minute video concert from Rockpalast in Germany! The Kinks Live at Rockpalast 1982
Here are Ray and Dave live and having a blast at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction! Enjoy "All The Day and All the Night" and "Lola"
Here's an interesting 30 minute documentary called "The Kinks BBC Documentary."
Thanks for all the great tunes across the years, and all those great hours of dancing to your amazing vision, wit, and incredibly catchy songs! May you rock on all the day and all the night, Superman Apeman, until you sail off on a sunny afternoon and find yourself in a Waterloo Sunset.
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson