Saturday, November 08, 2014

The Kinks - The Essential Kinks (Legacy, 2014)

Like any other band who's career has lasted this long, The Kinks have been anthologized in many ways, but surprisingly none seem quite as pithy and succinct as this one. While Legacy may pump these "Essentials" collections out as a cash grab for any band they have rights to, this one was really handled with care, by people who know and love the band. Of course, there are the early hits like "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" are here but just as importantly are the inclusion of the beautifully composed and arranged tracks from their extraordinary late '60's and early '70's albums, which flew under the psychedelic radar of the time, but stand as some of the most beautiful music of the period. Songs like the extraordinary "Waterloo Sunset", "David Watts" and "Village Green Preservation Society" present beautiful vignettes of English life, and were sadly all but ignored at the time. There would be one more hit, the winking "Lola" but it is the evocative and heartbreaking track "Strangers" that most poignantly closes out the first phase of The Kinks story. For the remainder of the bands career, they would suffer a series of ups and downs marked by squabbles the usual record industry folderol. Principal songwriter Ray Davies became a little overambitious during the mid 1970's, developing grand notions of rock opera and theatre which were neither musical nor financial successes. They persevered however and found success as an arena rock band, plying the heavy riffs of the earlier material to a new audience, along with some pithy songs that co-opted hard rock sound. Ironically, they found their hit not with a crunching riff but with a swirling organ sound that allowed "Come Dancing" to move past the nostalgia of it's lyrics and capture a wider audience. Though the continued to soldier on into the following decade, until Ray Davies successful solo album "Other Peoples Lives" and Dave Davies health challenges seem to have finally put paid to The Kinks long and fascinating journey. This collection is rounded out with a fine liner note essay including quotes from musicians the band has influenced. For a budget compilation you really can't hope for anything better than this. The music is expertly chosen and logically presented, making for an ideal addition to the collections of both newbies and long term fans alike. The Essential Kinks -

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