God Bless The Kinks
The last words of this book, "After what they've been through to build it, they need someone to say: God bless The Kinks." The perfect end to an absorbing and entertaining story.
I love The Kinks and yet have barely scratched the surface in terms of their back catalogue. A comprehensive singles collection of the hits from the 1960s and 1970s, Village Green, Muswell Hillbillies, Arthur and that's about it. Needless to say with a recording career that lasted well into the 1990s there plenty more to discover. This book has really inspired me to do just that.
The Kinks must be contenders for The Most Dysfunctional Pop Group Ever award. The Gallagher brothers (Oasis) could learn a few tricks from Ray and Dave Davies. A fully qualified psychiatrist would struggle to analyse the behaviour detailed in this book. When Ray Davies says "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" he's completely serious. One story from the book gives an insight into the Davies brothers relationship: when Dave turned 50 Ray threw a party for him. As Dave was about to cut his birthday cake, Ray jumped on the table with the cake, gave a quick speech about himself, and then trampled all over the cake. Despite this sort of gesture their story is also interspersed with acts of mutual support and, somehow between them and the rest of the group, they created one of the most remarkable and enduring bodies of work. Music that, as Nick Hasted observes at the outset, evoked 1930s glamour as much as more obvious pop and rock tropes.
There are so many great insights in this book. Here's a few examples:
* The extraordinary highs and lows that the band, and each member, endured throughout their long and eventful career. Over 40 years The Kinks left a trail of irate ex-partners, and band members driven to despair, madness and violence.
* The band's extraordinary penchant for self-sabotage, a recurring theme is how the band manage to consistently shoot themselves in the foot at the most commercially inopportune moments - and all this despite one of the all time greatest songwriters in their midst.
* On 'You Really Got Me' and that iconic riff..."The completion of Dave's primitive experiments was the fusing of the radically different brothers in a moment's creative union, as the song's lightning hit. Everything that was special about them began to breathe then. Ray's art found its voice through his brother's wild freedom."
* The extent to which "The Village Green Preservation Society" album was equivalent to career suicide. And that the band had pretty much stopped playing live by this time.
* That Ray Davies produced Tom Robinson's first band Cafe Society - and then, when discussing it with Nick Hasted, Ray radically rewrote the history to make himself appear far more significant and influential.
* The madly ambitious vaudeville shows the band staged in support of some of their 1970s concept albums.
If you have any interest in pop music, popular culture, the band, or you just like reading biographies, then this book will provide you with much to enjoy.