Friday, February 10, 2006

Kinks anyone?

by David Zahl

I've never been so excited for Valentine's Day in my life - after years of waiting, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan finally comes out on Criterion Collection DVD! What's more, on the same day, we also get the first ever solo album from Ray Davies (of the Kinks)! To celebrate, I've put together a list of my 17 favorite lesser-known Kinks songs:

1. Sweet Lady Genevieve – Preservation Act 1. From the period where the whole band had long hair and beards and no one listened to them.
2. This Is Where I Belong – Face to Face (single). I’m pretty sure Ray wrote this after the band got mysteriously banned from the States in 1965.
3. Shangri-La – Arthur. The first of many British Empire-themed rock operas from Ray. Cynical and sentimental at the same time, with great drumming.
4. This Time Tomorrow – Lola vs. The Powerman and the Moneygoround, pt. 1. I suspect this song sums up everything we need to know about “life on the road”. I never understood why Ray and Dave stopped singing together like they do on this song/album.
5. Deadend Street – Face to Face (single). With the exception of this song, the working-class-hero bit is the least interesting side of Ray's persona.
6. Starstruck – Village Green Preservation Society. Hard to pick only one from this album. No one ever talks about how awesome the Kinks’ back-up vocals were.
7. It’s Alright – The Kinks (b-side). Also, they sure could rock!
8. Nothing in This World Can Stop Me Worrying About My Baby – Kinda Kinks. Otherwise known as the song from Rushmore. I always wonder how the super-long title came across in 1964.
9. No More Looking Back – Schoolboys in Disgrace. Frampton Comes Alive was only two years away, and you can tell. In a good way…
10. A Rock n Roll Fantasy – Misfits. Worth it if only for the Beach Boys-style breakdown toward the end.
11. Til The End of the Day – The Kink Kontroversy. In the early days, people would accuse Ray of shamelessly recycling the “You Really Got Me” riff. But I don’t see how you could listen this song and fault him for it.
12. Animal Farm – Village Green Preservation Society. I have no idea what he’s talking about here, but it’s really English and really catchy.
13. Something Better Beginning – Kinda Kinks. My father’s favorite Kinks song. Note the brevity.
14. No Reason – Something Else. Is this bossanova? I don’t know. But even if it is, I love it.
15. Art Lover – Give The People What They Want. Latter-day Kinks. Weird and slightly perverted but clearly fantastic.
16. Autumn Almanac – Something Else (single). I just really like the way Ray sings the word, “almanac”, stretching it into four syllables.
17. I’m On an Island – The Kink Kontroversy. JAZ’s favorite Kinks song. Probably their most successful foray into calypso.

While I’m at it, here are 9 of my favorite well-known Kinks songs:

1. Waterloo Sunset – Something Else. As close to perfection as it gets.
2. All Day, All of the Night – The Kinks. Best of the riff-songs, no question.
3. Tired of Waiting for You – The Kinks. Sometimes it takes girls a long time to get ready.
4. Better Things – Give The People What They Want. Sappy but terrific.
5. David Watts – Something Else. More inspired back-up vocals.
6. Days – Village Green Preservation Society (single). More inspired sentimentality.
7. Sunny Afternoon – Face to Face. I heard he wrote this in twenty minutes.
8. Apeman – Lola vs The Powerman and the Moneygoround, pt. 1. I can’t think of any other band that pulled off the mean/silly combination so well so often.
9. Celluloid Heroes – Everybody’s in Showbiz. Why do people sing about Rudolph Valentino so much? Who was he?


John Zahl said...

Does anyone else agree with me that The Kinks absolutely trounce both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in a "Best Britsh Invasion Band" contest? The only actual competitors, as far as I'm concerned, are The Zombies...and maybe The Troggs. The Kinks cover all of my down-to-earth, heart-felt, testosterone-laden, apathetic and angry emotio-musical needs, while the Zombies have the market cornered on all my high-fallutin', artistic, ecstatic, escapist, Public School (in the English sense) tendancies as found in the British Invasion. Right? --JZ

John Zahl said...

Two other thoughts:

1) As far as Village Green is concerned, you missed the out-and-out gem, and, boy, is it a rare one; it's an out-take: "Wicked Annabella". My other favorite Kinks tune (one of them anyway).

2) Dave, T. Rex pull off the mean/silly thing pretty well too. And it's no wonder that Ape Man sounds a lot like a T. Rex song. Of course, T. Rex are a whole other story, sort of like the Kinks with a heavy dose of teen-pop insecurity meets Sun-Ra.

I love music! (the more obscure the better?)


p.s., Any thoughts Caleb?

DZ said...

Johnny -
I should've seen that coming, "Wicked Annabella" has your name written all over it. My only problem with it is that it's sung by Dave (Davies) not Ray, which in my book rules it out as first-rate Kinks.

your brother in/out of Christ,


Anonymous said...

I always thought David Watts was a Jam song. Now I know.

King Billy Drake said...

What a sweet photo of DZ!!
where did he get that tie? and the ambiance of that party looks fantastic!

pzahl said...

Important entry, David. I do think I miss "You Really Got Me". When we first heard that on 1390 WEEM (a Chevy Chase station in the mid-60s), we could not believe our ears. It was so terse and basic. And that broken guitar solo -- one could never be the same.
Thanks for a great salute!

cate west said...

I, for one, am just SO excited that you, DZ, seem to not have ANY other reasons to be excited about Valentines day. Thats a relief!

I'm glad to finally really be confident in knowing that "media" (music, film, sci-fi trading cards) truly come FIRST, for you.

Dylan Potter said...

Wow...a post from Dave, the missing (reclusive?) member of the legendary Zahl family? Thanks for the play list...I'm running, not walking to pull up some of these tunes on my PC right now.

John, I am nonplussed right now due to your "Best Britsh Invasion Band" comment. C'mon...NOBODY beats the Beatles...and despite the gratuitous appeal to authority, I'm pretty sure PZ would back me up on this one.

Dylan Potter said...

I just listened to "Art Lover"...I feel a bit like I'm listening to a pedophile...ugh! Perhaps I am off, but for those of you who don't have the luxury of listening to it, peep the lyrics!

Sunday afternoon there’s something special
It’s just like another world.
Jogging in the park is my excuse
To look at all the little girls.

I’m not a flasher in a rain coat,
I’m not a dirty old man,
I’m not gonna snatch you from your mother,
I’m an art lover.
Come to daddy,
Ah, come to daddy,
Come to daddy.

Pretty little legs, I want to draw them,
Like a degas ballerina.
Pure white skin, like porcelain,
She’s a work of art and I should know
I’m an art lover.
Come to daddy,
And I’ll give you some spangles.

Little girl don’t notice me
Watching as she innocently plays.
She can’t see me staring at her
Because I’m always wearing shades.
She feeds the ducks, looks at the flowers.
I follow her around for hours and hours.
I’d take her home, but that could never be,
She’s just a substitute
For what’s been taken from me.
Ah, come to daddy, come on.

Sunday afternoon can’t last forever,
Wish I could take you home.
So, come on, give us a smile
Before you vanish out of view.
I’ve learned to appreciate you
The way art lovers do,
And I only want to look at you.

Anonymous said...

Those lyrics are amazing. I don't listen to the Kinks, but I will now! So where's the best place to start?

Tim Galebach said...

My post is the same as that of anonymous.

David said...

Dylan, I may be wading into shark-infested waters, but I really don't care for the Beatles. Give me the Stones every time.

"Lola" is another great song by the Kinks. Tranny love unawares is always a good topic.

Anonymous said...


The March issue of MOJO is dedicated to The Kinks (it even comes with a Ray Davies tribute album). You should check it out. I'd let you borrow my copy but you still haven't given back the Oasis issue I lent you (it's been over eight months).


Dave Zahl said...

A quick post-script for anyone who's still not sold on the kinks: in 1971, right after Lola had put them back on the map, Ray wrote the soundtrack to the movie Percy, a little known british film that dramatized the historical, first ever transplant of the "male organ". true to form, the project produced some awesome songs, e.g. "God's Children", "Moments" and "Animals in the Zoo". Rock on!


p.s. the sequel to Percy was called "Percy's Progress"...

dave zahl said...

Looks like Other People's Lives has been delayed a week.

Tim Galebach said...

Dave Zahl, just have to post a big thank you for the mention of Metropolitan. I watched it today, and it was megasweetass.