Picking favorites in lieu of the impending and long-awaited reunion from the UK favorites
In a Monday night interview on England’s Channel 4 to promote his excellent new album Our Country: Americana, Act 2, Ray Davies confirmed that a reunion by The Kinks is officially on the books. The legendary band is gearing up for their first live shows together since 1996 and will also be recording their first set of new material since 1993’s Phobia. According to Davies, he and other surviving members guitarist Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory are presently in the studio working up songs, and the songwriter is using the tension that exists between the three men to their advantage sonically.
“The trouble is, the two remaining members – my brother Dave and Mick – never got along very well. But I’ve made that work in the studio and it’s fired me up to make them play harder, and with fire,” Davies explained to The Telegraph in a separate interview.
Davies also cites the latest Rolling Stones European tour as inspiration to get The Kinks back together, though he proclaimed that it “won’t be well-organized like the Rolling Stones…but The Kinks will probably be playing the local bar.” Spoken like the true father of Big Star and The Replacements.
And just a couple of hours ago, brother Dave confirmed the reunion, albeit throwing shade at the notion of a tour.
“Me and Ray have spoken about the possibility of us working on a new album,” the guitarist wrote on his Facebook page. “Ray has a few songs he wants to finish. I have 3 or 4 songs I’ve written with Ray. We’ve been talking about it for some time now. We haven’t discussed shows or anything else at the moment.”
Only time and an officially released single will tell if this most anticipated reunion is a lock. But in the meantime, here are eight Kinks albums worth checking out in anticipation of the band’s return, which, if either Davies brother’s latest works are any indication, has the potential to be a masterpiece on par with Village Green Preservation Society, Muswell Hillbillies and Sleepwalker. And while these following titles might not get as big a tidal wave of kudos and accolades as
Kinda Kinks (1965) Anchored by the no. 1 hit “Tired of Waiting”, the second Kinks LP served as a harbinger of things to come for the group as they inched further away from the Shel Talmy-propelled guitar crunch of “You Really Got Me” in favor of more arranged, melodic material like Side B highlight “So Long”.
Face to Face (1966) Prior to entering the studio to record their fourth LP, Ray Davies suffered from a nervous breakdown. But upon his recovery, the songwriting bard chose to shift gears almost completely away from the grit of their earliest work in favor of a softer, more reflective jangle that yielded some of the group’s best work in the 60s, including “Sunny Afternoon” and the music hall rave-up “Dandy”.
Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969) Originally conceived as the conceptual soundtrack to a scrapped Julian Mitchell teleplay for England’s Granada Television, the 7th studio album by The Kinks was quickly reimagined to loosely tell the tale of he and Dave’s brother-in-law Arthur Anning in the carpet business. What transpired was a meatier, beatier and headier approach to the pastoral majesty of its predecessor The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, as exemplified by the earthiness of cuts like “Shangri-La” and “Australia“.
Percy (1971) A personal favorite of our site’s founder Ken Kurson, this soundtrack to the randy British comedy adapted from a novel written by Robyn Hitchcock’s dad Raymond was a career peak for Ray Davies as a composer of large ensemble music that would come in handy during the Kinks’ flair for theater period in the early-to-mid-70s. To experience the full tilt pulchritude of Percy, however, look no further than “Moments“, a song that should be considered as essential as “Waterloo Sunset” to any Kinks Kompletist.
Schoolboys In Disgrace (1975) Considered the last album of the band’s “theatrical” phase that included Soap Opera and the Preservation Act LP’s, Schoolboys received a bump in interest in the late 00s/early 10s when it was revealed that comedian Bobcat Goldthwait—with the blessing of Ray Davies—was developing a film adaptation of the record with possible soundtrack accompaniment from Jack White. Nearly a decade after the news broke, we can only hope and dream this dream collaboration we never knew we wanted is still in production, but in the interim has helped us realize what many of us knew all along since feasting our eyes on that Mickey Finn cover artwork: Schoolboys is one of the best Kinks albums in their discography, as songs like the six-minute “Education” prove the Davies brothers were able to walk that thin line between prog and pop as deftly as Todd Rundgren ever could.
Low Budget (1979) Though primarily known for its hit single “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman”, it was the neon-blues swagger of sentimental faves like the uber-cheeky title track and “A Gallon of Gas” that made Low Budget and its socio-political bent surrounding the ripped-from-the-headlines energy crisis of ’79 that gripped much of the industrial world in the wake of the revolution in Iran.
Word of Mouth (1984) The Kinks closed out the early-80s in fighting form with 1983’s State of Confusion. With its quickly conspired follow-up, however, the Davies boys proved they can enter the Stranger Things era as seamlessly as Pete Townshend with a collection of sharp post new wave songs as catchy as anything we got from The Romantics or Joe Jackson back then, especially Dave’s masterful “Living on a Thin Line“.
UK Jive (1989) When this album came out as the 80s were coming to a close, the critics were not kind, especially as the follow-up to a dog like 1986’s disappointing Think Visual. But listening to UK Jive nearly 30 years later, one can undoubtedly hear the spirit of The Replacements and post-Big Star Alex Chilton through the scrappy maximalism of winning tracks like “Aggravation”. If there’s one album in the Kinks katalog that deserves to be heard again with fresh ears, it’s no jive to say Jive is worthy of a second chance to prove its worth in salt.