In Granada TV’s 1974’s Starmaker, head Kink Ray Davies proved once again that he’s not like everybody else, producing a rock opera for television that tells the story of an insufferable, vain, egotistical rock star (played by Davies, naturally) who switches places with an “ordinary person” named Norman, working in Norman’s crappy job and living Norman’s crappy life to find inspiration for his next album. (Well, it’s a little more complicated than that…)
Davies’ play reveled in breaking the fourth wall: cameras and microphones are visible throughout and the play’s author/star himself even ends up a member of the audience.
Starmaker was a dryrun for the themes of the Kinks’ 1975 album, The Kinks Present a Soap Opera.
Director and Kinks fan, Julien Temple beautifully captures Ray Davies’ wistfulness in his excellent documentary on the former-Kink, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man. Davies is allowed to gently meander around his past life, talking about his childhood, his family of 7 sisters and 1 brother, his early days with The Kinks, the development of his writing skill (the quality and consistency of which now makes him seem at times better than, if not on par with Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richard), and onto his life of fame, of parenthood, of growing-up, all of which seemed to happen so fast.
It would seem Davies has always lived his life with one eye on the past—from the nostalgia of The Village Green Preservation Society through to his film Return to Waterloo, Davies takes solace from the past. It gives his music that beautiful, bittersweet quality, as Milan Kundera reminds us that:
The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.
But it’s not just about wanting to return to some mythical past, it’s also about loss—whether this is the loss of the past, of opportunities, of career, or, even of memory—for without memory we are nothing. Memory keeps us relevant, and all artists want to be relevant. Throughout Temple’s film, Davies makes reference to this sense of loss, from the remnants of Hornsea Town Hall, to the changing landscape of London, or the songs he has written. And put together with the brilliance of the songs, the wealth of archive, and Ray Davies’ gentle narration, Temple has created a clever, beautiful, and moving film, which leaves you wanting to know and hear more.
Of course not—as we have a whole thirty-minute concert of The Kinks to watch! And it’s a candy box full of all our favorite centers!
02. “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues”
03. “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”
06. “Good Golly Miss Molly”
07. “You Really Got Me”
08. “All Day And All Of the Night”
09. “Waterloo Sunset”
10. “The Village Green Preservation Society”
Musician, cheeky-chappie, and renowned Boogie-Woogie pianist, Jools Holland takes a personal tour through the theaters, music halls and performance venues, at the heart of London’s diverse musical history.
Unlike Chicago blues or Memphis soul, London has no one definitive sound. Its noisy history is full of grime, clamour, industry and countless different voices demanding to be heard. But there is a strain of street-wise realism that is forever present, from its world-famous nursery rhymes to its music hall traditions, and from the Broadside Ballad through to punk and beyond.
Jools’s investigation - at once probing and humorous - identifies the many ingredients of a salty tone that could be called ‘the London sound’ as he tracks through the centuries from the ballads of Tyburn Gallows to Broadside publishing in Seven Dials in the 18th century, to Wilton’s Music Hall in the late 19th century, to the Caribbean sounds and styles that first docked at Tilbury with the Windrush in 1948, to his own conception to the strains of Humphrey Lyttelton at the 100 Club in 1957.
On the way, Jools meets Ray Davies, Damon Albarn, Suggs from Madness, Roy Hudd, Lisa Hannigan, Joe Brown and Eliza Carthy who perform and talk about such classic songs as “London Bridge is Falling Down”, “While London Sleeps”, “Knocked ‘Em in the Old Kent Road”, “St James Infirmary Blues” and “Oranges and Lemons”.
In June 2004, Dave Davies suffered a stroke as he was exiting a lift, in BBC’s Broadcasting House.
Suddenly the right hand side of my body seized up and I couldn’t move my arm or leg. Although I didn’t lose consciousness, I couldn’t speak. Luckily my son Christian and my publicist were there, so they carried me outside and called an ambulance.
Though he had warnings signs - waking up one morning to find he couldn’t move his right hand or speak when he opened his mouth - and was examined by a doctor, nothing indicated the imminence of his stroke. As Dave later wrote in the Daily Mail in 2006:
I was told I’d had a stroke - or, in medical terms, a cerebral infraction. An ‘infarct’ is an area of dead tissue and there was a patch of it on the left side of my brain - the bit that controls movement on the right side.
The doctors told me I had high blood pressure and that this was what had caused the stroke. They thought I’d probably had high blood pressure for at least ten years….
...Two weeks after my stroke, I finally plucked the courage to pick up my guitar. I held it across my lap, pressing on the strings. I could feel everything but the hand itself was virtually immobile.
I knew I was going to have to work very hard if I was to get better, and I started using meditation and visualisation. I thought if I could visualise myself running, walking and playing the guitar, it might prompt my brain to remember how I used to be.
It took Dave 18 months of physio, determination and hard work, to get “about 85 per cent back to normal”.
I believe my stroke was meant to happen to slow me down. I’d like to write and male films and start a foundation where I can help people be more spiritual…
...For now I appreciate my slower pace of life. I feel I have discovered an inner strength which I know will see me through any adversity.
Made in 2011, Julien Temple’s pastoral documentary Kinkdom Come is a touching portrait of the other half of The Kinks, Dave Davies.
Opening with Davies in the wilds of Exmoor, where he revels in the desolation and the quiet, Temple’s film moves through Dave’s life story, examining key moments in his childhood, his career as guitarist with The Kinks, his openness about sexuality, his (some would say torturous) relationship with his brother Ray, and the damagingly high cost of that all of his fame, success and position as “iconic Sixties figure” has cost him.
Throughout, Dave comes across as an honest, gentle soul, slightly lost, beautifully innocent, almost ethereal, as if he is a visitor from some other galaxy.
Though his stroke in 2004 made Dave Davies more mindful of what he is doing and “appreciative of the chance to do it,” there’s still little chance of a Kinks reunion anytime soon, as Dave tells Neil McCormick in an interview over at the Telegraph:
“About an hour with Ray’s my limit, so it would be a very short reunion.”
Dave talks to Neil about his relationship with Ray, his time in The Kinks and his thoughts about being a sixties superstar:
‘I felt that I was indestructible, but rock and roll does that, you strap on that guitar and think, ‘F—- the world.’ I wasn’t a very academic kid, and music was the way for all that feeling and angst and sex and love and anger to be channelled.”
Dave has always been “the other Kink”, and it is his dysfunctional relationship with his more famous, more acclaimed and, arguably, more accomplished brother that has come to define him in the public’s eye. They could be the prototype for the Gallagher brothers, their bickering, battling relationship so mutually dependent and disharmonious that, even though the Kinks disbanded in 1996, Ray still constantly hovers at the edges of conversation, alluded to directly and indirectly.
One moment Dave will describe Ray as “a vain, egotistical arsehole”, but another he will profess profound respect and affection, saying: “How could I not love my own brother? I just can’t stand to be with him.”
Dave and Ray grew up in a large (six girls, two boys) working-class family in Muswell Hill, close to where we meet. “I had to look sibling rivalry up in the encyclopaedia: for years, I didn’t even know what it meant. He was my older brother. I looked up to him; he inspired me.
“I thought what we were doing in the Kinks was collaborative. But Ray uses different words to me. He would talk about me as his muse. So I’m important to be in his life, but only as a support for what he’s doing. That’s a pretty hard pill to swallow.”
Davis is still performing, and claims he sounds and plays better now than ever before. He is working on a ‘new’ alum, and though never as prolific as Ray, Dave is still a fine songwriter, as this classic track, “Death of a Clown” attests.
The the former Kinks frontman and one of our greatest living pop songwriters and observers of working-class life, Ray Davies, turns 67 today!
Although stories have long been told about what a prick Davies is supposed to be in real life (especially those tales told by his estranged younger brother Dave Davies) I got a chance to meet him in the late 80s and he was super cool. He had to change a shot on the master of a music video he’d directed (I can’t recall for what, but it took place on a rooftop) and I was given the job at a video post house where I was working at the time. He was cheerful and friendly.
I was looking for just the right video—my first choice would have been a live “Shangri-La” or “This is Where I Belong” from the sixties or early seventies, but neither can be found on YouTube—and came across a clip I had not seen before of The Kinks performing on the Once More With Felix program hosted by American folk singer Julie Felix, in 1969.
Below, watch a terrific performance of “Picture Book,” from their classic album, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. This is one of those things that would have been lost to time—and the idiotic BBC policy of wiping their video masters to re-use the tapes!—had not a former BBC video engineer named Bob Pratt defied BBC policy and made his own copies of significant programs and event coverage.
Birthday bonus, a great “Days” from Pop Go The Sixties:
It doesn’t get more Lahndan Tahn than than this. Taken from a 1979 BBC TV Play For Today drama written by Barrie Keeffe and directed by RIchard Eyre, this clip sees Ray Davies’ mid-60s paean to young romance belted out on a rickety ole joanna by Queenie Watts. Watts was a well-loved Cockney performer who appeared in such classic British TV shows as Dad’s Army and Steptoe and Son. She and her husband Slim also ran the Rose and Crown pub in London’s East End, where they would perform with a band, entertaining a mixed crowd of locals, celebs and gangsters. Queenie’s take on The Kinks’ classic makes the connection between the swinging 60s and the city’s earlier music hall history, and it just drips Cockney charm. Cor blimey!
Here’s an excellent performance-documentary of The Kinks in concert at the Rainbow Theater in London, 1972. It was shot around the time of their classic album Muswell Hillbillies, and the performance footage was originally shown as part of the BBC’s In Concert series.
What makes this program especially wonderful is the way highlights form the concert have been inter-cut with documentary footage with interviews from the band, vox pops, celebrity fan / film and TV producer, the late Ned Sherrin, together with clips from The Virgin Soldiers, and Ray Davies wandering around the disappearing London haunts of his childhood. Tracks include:
“Till the End of the Day”
“Top of the Pops”
“She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina”
“Acute Schizophrenia Paranoid Blues”
“You Really Got Me”
I once met Ray Davies in a bar. I literally bumped into the great man just as I was exiting the toilet. Which isn’t the most auspicious place to meet a pop legend - between cubicle and urinal - or to announce an undying love for the man’s god-like talent. But ‘carpe diem’ and all that, so I did, and also said how brilliant I thought his film Return to Waterloo. Considering the amount of daft punters, myself included, he no doubt has to deal with on a daily basis, The Kinks’ genius was exceedingly gracious and kind.
I guess it was because I was rather middle-aged in my teens that unlike my contemporaries, who were out drinking, taking drugs and enjoying the folly of youth, I was at home the Friday night Return to Waterloo aired on telly. I’m glad I was, for Davies film was an incredible piece of TV, and unlike anything I’d seen before.
Looking back, it was a daring commission by the broadcasters, Channel 4, for here was a first time director’s film with no real plot, no dialog, just a series of vignettes tied together by a cycle of songs, about the day in the life of a Traveler (played by the superb Kenneth Colley) - his hopes, his fears, his desires, his failings, his loss. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But believe me, it was.
The film erupts out of a dark railway tunnel into a summer’s day. The Traveler wanders a railway station, through its crowds, then follows a girl with blonde hair, a newspaper headline with identi-kit picture - a rapist / murderer is on the loose. The Traveler follows the blonde (a memory of his missing daughter? a possible victim?) down into the underground, he passes a Busker (Davies, himself), and follows the girl along the platform. An underground train approaches. The Traveler’ nears the platform’s edge, its lights bleach out his face, and suddenly, as the day’s events rattle by, we return to the beginning.
It’s an opening that makes you sit up and take notice, as we are presented with several possible scenarios. Are we watching a murder mystery? A thriller about a missing daughter? A tale of sex/adultery/incest? It soon becomes clear these story-lines are unimportant, as what Davies is doing is something far more clever, subtle and personal.
Davies was thirty-nine when he made Return to Waterloo and it is filled with the disillusion of a man creeping towards his middle age and possible mid-life crisis. At the time, Davies was splitting up from his lover, Chrissie Hynde, with whom he had a daughter, and the film is tinged with a remorse for family life, for things that could have been, the pain of love lost. The question is how much does the Traveler represent Davies? How much is it a refraction of his own feelings?
Dear lonely heart, I wish things could be the way they were at the start…
But as we see, they can’t. Actions, or the lack of them, bring their own unexpected results.
Ken Colley has a list of credits from The Music Lovers, through Ripping Yarns to Star Wars and Return to Waterloo. He is one of cinema’s and television’s greatest character actors - a far better performer than most leading men. Colley does what many actors forget to do, he acts with his eyes. When you watch Colley, you know what his character is thinking, what he’s feeling, what is going through his mind.
The train journey is a metaphor for the Traveler’s life, in much the same way as Sylvia Plath once used it to describe her pregnancy:
Boarded the train there’s no getting off
Nearing Waterloo Station, the Traveler fantasizes of a way of “getting off” - by giving his younger self the keys to his future, here’s what will happen, kid, here’s what you can do.
Lime Street, Liverpool
Did you know that Waterloo Sunset was originally Liverpool Sunset? It was Davies’ paean to the city he loves:
“Liverpool is my favourite city, and the song was originally called Liverpool Sunset. I was inspired by Merseybeat. I’d fallen in love with Liverpool by that point. On every tour, that was the best reception. We played The Cavern, all those old places, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
“I had a load of mates in bands up there, and that sound – not The Beatles but Merseybeat – that was unbelievable. It used to inspire me every time.
“So I wrote Liverpool Sunset. Later it got changed to Waterloo Sunset, but there’s still that play on words with Waterloo.
“London was home, I’d grown up there, but I like to think I could be an adopted Scouser. My heart is definitely there.”
As we approach our destination, there’s a question: why did Davies call his film Return to Waterloo? What was he returning to?
Millions of people swarming like flies ‘round Waterloo Underground
But Terry and Julie cross over the river
Where they feel safe and sound
And they don’t need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
They are in paradise
This description from Waterloo Sunset does not fit with Britain in the 1980s. The sixties promise of “paradise” has been bartered and sold, by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Tory policies during that decade knew the price of everything, but the value of nothing. But let’s not get too political, for the next song is as much about a private heartbreak as it is about public disillusion.
Now all the lies are beginning to show,
And you’re not the country that I used to know.
I loved you once from my head to my toe,
But now my belief is shaken.
And all your ways are so untrue,
No one breaks promises the way that you do.
You guided me, I trusted you,
But now my illusion’s shaken.
We had expectations, now we’ve reached
As far as we can go.
Return to Waterloo reaches its destination, a brilliant and original film, which leaves one wondering why Davies hasn’t written and directed more for film and television?
A few years ago, a friend told me Ray Davies allegedly has this burning ambition to write a sitcom - now wouldn’t that be something?
Excerpts from Ray Davies’ ‘Return to Waterloo’ after the jump…
The campaign to Save the 100 Club continues apace with support from a host of rock musicians including Mick Jagger, who came out in support of the campaign earlier this month saying:
There’s a real need for these places - they have a connection with the past. And what is important is that you have places where bands can cut their teeth and places of a certain intimacy and size, that new bands can experiment in. There aren’t that many great places in London, or indeed any city, that you can say that about.
Jagger isn’t the only legend offering his support, Ray Davies of The Kinks has said:
Simon Cowell should underwrite the money needed to save the 100 Club, that would be a real payback. The amount of money he takes out of pop music he could put some back in. I’‘m very concerned about the 100 Club, The Kinks played there and it’s such an iconic venue we shouldn’t allow things like that to close down. Everything is being overrun by the chain stores and the conglomerates and it such a pity that the 100 Club has to suffer like that.
Other musicians including Mick Jones and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie have also spoken out against the possible closure, while Brian Travers from UB40 said:
It feels like live music is being pushed out of our cities to make way for car parks and duplex apartments. You are not on your own, all over the UK small live venues are being closed down. Just last November in Birmingham, the city’s premier live music venue The Rainbow was threatened with closure as well as noise abatement orders because a private property company had built downtown duplex apartments for the upwardly mobile who now don’t like the sound of downtown and wanted to turn it into a haven of peace and tranquility, live music being the first noise they wanted to mute.
This is a much bigger issue than just a noisy musicians being told to turn down the volume, this an all out attack on the UK’s finest export, music. If we are not careful our culture will be irreversibly damaged. As you have quite rightly said pretty soon there will be no where left for young bands to learn their craft.
Steve Diggle from The Buzzcocks said:
The 100 Club is as important as St Paul’s Cathedral!
While Frank Black from The Pixies has pledged £100,000 to the campaign and Liam Gallagher wrote a letter in support saying the 100 Club is “very rock n roll” and that its a shame as he “fancied playing there with the mighty Beady Eye.”
Save the 100 Club organizer, Jim Piddington tells Dangerous Minds that £150k has already been raised, but more is needed if they are to reach the target of £500k. A fund-raising gig is to be held at the venue on Thursday, 25 November, headlined by Specials guitarist Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels, and a line-up that also includes Chas Hodges, and a selection of “very special guests” who “are also expected to join the bill”.
If interested in attending the gig or in Saving the 100 Club please check details here.
You’ve really got to hand it to Dave Davies: neither a stroke, nor advanced age, has seemed to mellow the former Kinks guitarist’s… intense hatred for his older brother, Ray. If this new interview from the Daily Mail is anything to go by (!) don’t expect the famously feuding Muswell hillbillies to reform the Kinks anytime soon, if ever. This is classic!
“The last time we were all together was at my 50th birthday party.
Ray had the money and I didn’t, so he offered to throw it for me.
‘Just as I was about to cut the cake, Ray jumped on the table and made a speech about how wonderful he was. He then stamped on the cake.”
A Kinks reunion? Never! Not since my brother Ray stamped on my 50th birthday cake (Daily Mail)
Below, a clip of Dave Davies performing “Death of a Clown,” a song about the great Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame. From the Kinks LP, Something Else.
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